780.5/3–2653: Telegram

No. 1389
The Chargé in Iraq (Ireland) to the Department of State 1


1180. British Ambassador has reviewed with me his recent talk with Nuri when he asked for additional information regarding defense plans as raised by Foreign Minister Suwaidi (Embtel 1158, March 222). Nuri said Iraq’s defense plans based on establishing four divisions to be brought up to full strength immediately with new divisions to be created thereafter. Divisions to be stationed as follows: Mountain division in north; armoured division at Khanaqin; motorized division at Basra and one reserve division composed of mountain, armoured and motorized units. Fighter squadrons to be located at Basra, Kirkuk, Mosul and Baghdad.

Military experts would assess equipment and funds required, but a preliminary estimate was cost of 60 to 80 million dinars. Iraq would provide as much as possible but it could not do all without serious adverse affect on economic development. Iraq was, therefore, turning for assistance to UK and US, in accordance with Articles 51 and 52 of UN Charter. Nuri emphasized the precedent of arms and funds to Turkey and that such aid had been given prior to Turkey’s participation in NATO. Nuri made it clear also that arms were not expected from United States but from United Kingdom. United States would, therefore, supply funds and UK equipment as had already been done with several NATO countries.

When asked how these plans fit in with MEDO, Nuri said while approach to Egypt was first requisite, Iraq could not wait indefinitely on Egypt. Iraq, in any case, should start building up its forces now which could be fit in with MEDO if it were set up.

In response to question how Iraqis understood word “self-defense” in requesting assistance, Nuri said word had been taken [Page 2347] from US note on 408(e) and that Iraqis interpreted it as used in that note (Department instruction 11, October 24, Embtel 617, November 143).

In regard to place of Anglo-Iraqi treaty in plans, Nuri said the treaty need not necessarily be abrogated but merely supplemented by arrangements growing out of application of Articles 51 and 52, which would provide rights for the British to store equipment, to transit and to training privileges. When Ambassador told Nuri that UK felt that right to station British air squadrons in Iraq very important, Nuri “shied off”. He thought it necessary only to provide opportunities for return in time of war.

At no point in the discussions did Nuri mention Arab colleagues. As for future talks with Turks, Nuri said Turks had been told that before Iraq could talk further, Turkey must find out from Iranians what latter proposed and could do on behalf of their own self-defense. United Kingdom Ambassador says that Suwaidi in this connection had informed him that Turk Chargé had been told that Iraq envisaged its future relations with Turkey as being on a bilateral basis.

In his conversation Nuri expressed the hope for a speedy answer and particularly that a reply would come before the visit of Secretary Dulles. UK Ambassador reminded Nuri that questions as raised would take time and that discussions would be necessary both in London and in Washington.

British Ambassador, in reporting conversations to Foreign Office, will say that while Iraqis had obviously not thought through all aspects of their plans, he hoped Foreign Office would give serious consideration to proposals, particularly since Iraq was now proposing to do at small price what we had been long urging all free nations to do in behalf of thier own self-defense. Joint US–UK military assistance was being proposed for Egypt. Iraq, in view of its forward position, would seem to deserve no less consideration. This Embassy in thorough agreement with British Ambassador point of view.

He also will say that he presumes that decisions by United Kingdom and United States will be taken on principle whether assistance would be given and that a tripartite commission would then undertake to consider implementation of any responses given.

UK Ambassador said he would point out to his government that premature revelation Iraq’s plans to Turks and French would certainly be most distasteful to Iraq. He did not propose to mention the proposals to Turks and French here unless so instructed.

  1. Repeated to London, Cairo, and Ankara.
  2. Supra .
  3. See footnote 1, Document 1385.