Secretary’s Letters, lot 56 D 459, “DOD—Jan.–June 1952”

No. 687
The Secretary of Defense (Lovett) to the Secretary of State

top secret

Dear Mr. Secretary: You will recall that the North Atlantic Ocean Regional Planning Group invited the Governments of Iceland and the United States to reach agreement concerning the fulfillment of certain military operating requirements in Iceland (NAOR/32 CC/50, 16 November 19502). Among the requirements stated in the invitation were a maritime and fighter air base, a transient air base and a strategic air base. The first two of these requirements have been met by the present arrangements under the agreement with Iceland of 5 May 1951,3 permitting limited United States military operations in the area of Keflavik Air Field. The strategic air base requirement has not yet been implemented. The expanded defense program has now created an urgent need for the development of this strategic air base and for certain other military operating rights not covered by the present agreement with Iceland.

I have been advised that the Secretary of the Air Force has held informal discussions with Mr. Lawson, United States Minister to Iceland, and representatives of your Department with regard to procedures to be followed in initiating and conducting the negotiations for the additional requirements. I understand that it was informally agreed that these negotiations would be initiated based upon the total military requirements of the three Services which are now known. Accordingly, there is attached a statement of all [Page 1513] presently known U.S. military requirements in Iceland.4 This statement of requirements is furnished to you as a guide in the conduct of the negotiations. If, in your opinion, it is politically inopportune to seek the rights to implement all these requirements at this time, this Department will cooperate in meeting the political situation by deferring all but those most urgently desired for immediate implementation. You are advised, however, that due to the length of time required to develop a new air base, the right to select a suitable agreed area and to develop thereon a new air base is of the greatest urgency.

The military rights for the implementation of the above-mentioned military requirements, if successfully negotiated, will require amendment to Technical Schedules Nos. 1 and 2 of the defense agreement between the United States and Iceland of 5 May 1951. Proposed amendments are attached5 for use as a guide by your representatives in their conduct of the negotiations.

For your information tentative programs now under consideration for Fiscal Year 1953 provide for both the development of this additional air base and for further development of Keflavik Air Field.

On the basis of the above information, it is requested that you open negotiations with the Government of Iceland for the military rights necessary to implement all or a part of the stated requirements. This Department is prepared to provide your representatives appropriate military personnel, as technical advisors, to aid in the conduct of negotiations upon your request.

I would appreciate being kept informed of the progress of these negotiations and assume that you will afford me the opportunity of reviewing and concurring in any arrangements with Iceland prior to their conclusion.

Sincerely yours,

Robert A. Lovett
  1. Not found in Department of State files.
  2. For text of the Defense Agreement Pursuant to the North Atlantic Treaty Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iceland, see United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (UST) vol. 2 (pt. 1) 1195, or Department of State Bulletin, May 21, 1951, p. 812.
  3. No statement was found attached to the source text. For a summary of these requirements, see Document 689.
  4. Not found attached to the source text.