740B 5/4–1354

No. 699
Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Bonbright) to the Acting Secretary of State

  • Subject: Negotiations with Iceland Concerning Implementation of the U.S.–Iceland Defense Agreement of 1951

The negotiations which began on February 2 have reached a critical phase owing to four points of difference: (a) whether the activities of the present U.S. prime contractor will be terminated on a date certain, or whether he will be allowed to remain as a “backstop” so long as required to “insure performance” by Icelandic contractors, (b) whether the U.S. will have the final decision on the question of the capability of an Icelandic contractor to do certain work, (c) whether U.S. personnel in Iceland are to be put under ostensibly severe “off-base movement” restrictions, possibly resulting in lowered morale and adverse publicity, although the Commander, Iceland Defense Force, believes he can live with the restrictions, which are to be liberally interpreted, (d) whether the U.S. will accept the Icelandic response granting only a portion of the additional facilities we requested in the negotiations.

On point (c), the “troop impact” problem, Under Secretary of the Air Force Douglas and an OSD representative take the position that regulation of “off-base movement” is a command function; that this matter should be removed from the Government level and be worked out between the Commander, Iceland Defense Force, and representatives of the Icelandic Government. This question is probably the crux of the problem and if it can be solved we are hopeful that (a) and (b) can be resolved.

We called this problem to the attention of the JCS at Mr. Murphy’s informal meeting last Friday.1 We merely wanted to flag the question in view of Lawson’s apprehensions of unfavorable political developments which might flow from a failure to reach agreement. We are somewhat concerned by reports that the Chiefs are going into all aspects in some detail with a possibility they may come up with a very firm position which will make it more difficult for us to make concessions.

Coordination and clearance of a U.S. position in response to the most recent Icelandic position has been made more difficult by a time factor—we received the Icelandic papers ten days ago and [Page 1531] were asked to develop agreement so that the Icelandic Foreign Minister could present the results to Parliament prior to adjournment April 14. He will now report to the Althing, probably today on the basis of no agreement.

  1. A record of the meeting, dated Apr. 9, is in State–JCS Meetings, lot 61 D 417, “Meeting No. 101”.