No. 690

249.1111–Oatis, William/7–1751: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Czechoslovakia 1


47. Some sections US press and number of Members of Cong, like Emb (ur 47 July 172), strongly urging retaliatory action in Oatis case. Some of suggestions, for instance Monroney res breaking econ relations to be followed by breaking dipl relations in 90 days if Oatis is not released,3 wld almost certainly have repercussions on our natl interests which Dept is not, at least for present, willing to risk. Other measures suggested involve multilateral action, either very complex and time-consuming in initiating or unfeasible. Many proposing various counter-measures do so in apparent misapprehension [Page 1382] measures they propose are simple to institute, wld be effective and that Dept not fully disposed in principle to be tough to obtain Oatis release when toughness offers such good prospects of success.

FYI Dept endeavoring institute available retaliatory actions deemed appropriate and offering reasonable prospects being effective. Meanwhile, Dept wishes sound out possibility of exchanging a Czech in Ger jail for Oatis and regrets Siroky’s reaction to your note was so violent (ur 40, July 164) unfortunately not feasible for you to explore this possibility at that time. (Our 18 July 85) We hope next time you see Siroky atmosphere will be such you can sound out possibility of exchange.

In addition this step Dept arranging for fol:

Denial mil permits with exception dipl and consular personnel, dipl couriers, emigrants and bargees. While this will affect comparatively limited nr it shld exclude Czech business reps from W. Ger. In expediting this step Dept has urged Brit and Fr Embs here seek concurrence their govts. Brit Emb states FonOff approves subj to views Brit Emb Praha; no word yet recd Fr Emb.
Vigorous démarche with new Czech Amb. Planned when he first calls to give him stern treatment and to state if he hopes to carry on dipl business with this govt this case will have to be settled satisfactorily.
Action to embargo US exports Czech. Value exports running only about $200,000–$250,000 month. This wld have limited impact in itself but might be effective in suggesting Czechs further and stronger action on our part to come. Dept requesting concurrence Dept Commerce (1) to use threat this step with Czechs and (2) to fol through, if necessary, by revoking outstanding licenses and denial of future applications for exports Czech.
Denial permission CSA overfly W. Ger. Because of probable difficulty in obtaining Brit and/or Fr concurrence in this step, desirable approach Brit and Fr on this after matter mil permits out of way.

Our course of action shld thus proceed in stages in which we try to avoid creation of great internatl issue raising obstacle to retreat of Commies by release Oatis but give impression skillfully to Commies that we are moving on step by step so that if they do not release Oatis pressure will constantly grow. We thus believe it desirable explore first and soonest possibility exchanging bodies and to exploit threat of exports embargo in private discussion with FonMin before going ahead to actual denial of export licenses and public announcement this effect.

  1. Drafted by Higgs and Vedeler (EUR/EE) and cleared by Wolf (EUR/RA), Auchinloss and Williams (GER/GPA), Bonbright (EUR), Sargeant (P), and E.
  2. Supra.
  3. Regarding resolutions introduced in Congress calling for action for the release of Oatis, see Document 703.
  4. Document 688.
  5. Not printed.