No. 347

740.5/10–1851: Telegram

The United States Deputy Representative on the North Atlantic Council (Spofford) to the Secretary of State 1

secret priority

Depto 481. At yesterday’s CD mtg Nor dep distributed text of Sov note (Oslo’s 3532) and read Lange’s statement (Oslo’s 3553). Stated he was not requesting action but wished to draw dep’s attention to situation and wld keep them informed.

In reply to UK query as to reason for presentation note at this time, he stated Nor Govt not clear but recognized numerous possibilities including:

1. Delayed reaction to Greenland and Iceland agreements,

2. Merely additional shot in barrage of intimidation and propaganda,

3. Recent Nor-Russian dispute over war graves,4

4. Specific reaction as mentioned in note to recent maneuvers and visits of aircraft and Allied milit officers,

5. Possible preparation for Spitzbergen move. He said last-named wld be blow not merely at Nor but at numerous other members who were signatories of treaty. He indicated privately that Russia might consider Spitzbergen soft spot in NATO area where they cld test NATO’s reaction.5

A memorandum of conversation, dated October 17, recorded a meeting between the Norwegian Ambassador and members of the Department of State. It reported that Morgenstierne did not appear especially alarmed, speculated that direct Soviet action in Spitzbergen could hardly be contemplated, and said he did not see what the Soviets could do, other than to make difficulties in commercial matters. (780.5/10–1751)

[Page 762]

Chairman noted revision of Spitzbergen treaty apparently only possible by consent of all parties, expressed gratitude that Nor Govt keeping NATO govts informed through CD of developments, referred to long series of Sov notes addressed to different govts alleging aggressive intentions and referring to bases, and noted Lange’s prompt and firm statement.

  1. Repeated to Oslo and Paris.
  2. Dated October 16; it contained the full text of the Soviet note handed to the Norwegian Ambassador in Moscow on October 15. Additional information on the note is in the editorial note, supra. (657.61/10–1651)
  3. Dated October 16; it contained the full text of the Norwegian Foreign Office release commenting on the Soviet note of October 15. (657.61/10–1651)
  4. See the editorial note, supra.
  5. A handwritten note at the top of the telegram, from Parsons to Wolf, read, “Before filing, do you think we ought to consult with Spofford re Spitzbergen—yr memo to Matthews, etc.” In answer, Wolf wrote, “No. Later cables give milder evaluation by Nors.” Below is the annotation, “No action—File,” dated October 22.