309. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Allen) to the Under Secretary of State (Hoover)1


  • Department Circular No. 252 Authorization for Negotiation of Agreement with Syria on Sales of Military Equipment


The Government of Syria has expressed an interest in purchasing certain military equipment from the Government of the United States under the provisions of Section 106 of the Mutual Security Act of 1954, as amended.3

Section 106 requires that certain assurances be obtained before such sales are made to a country, such as Syria, which has not signed a grant aid agreement or joined with the United States in a regional collective defense arrangement. These statutory assurances stipulate that any equipment purchased is required for and will be used solely for internal security or legitimate self-defense (or to permit the purchasing country to participate in the defense of the area of which it is a part, or in collective security arrangements and measures consistent with the Charter of the United Nations). The purchasing country must also give assurance that it will not undertake any act of aggression against any other state.

In addition, in order to meet the statutory requirement that Section 106 be administered “in order to carry out the purpose of this chapter”, it is customary to include in agreements for the sale of military equipment assurances that the purchasing country will protect the security of any classified equipment or information furnished, and that it will not transfer title to or possession of any items purchased without the prior consent of the United States.

Such an agreement has already been concluded with Lebanon. The Embassy in Damascus believes that the Syrian Government would be prepared to agree to assurances such as those contained in the agreement with Lebanon.

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Such an agreement would not contain any commitment on the part of the United States to furnish Syria any arms, and would not appear to have any effect on internal law in the United States. Since an agreement of this nature is authorized and required by Section 106 of the Mutual Security Act of 1954, it could properly be concluded as an executive agreement.


It is recommended that you authorize the negotiation with Syria under Section 106 of the Mutual Security Act of 1954, as amended, of an executive agreement along the lines discussed above.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783.56/10–1155. Confidential. Drafted by Gray and Boardman; cleared with Frechtling and Phleger.
  2. Circular 25 contained Department of State guidelines for the proper exercise of the treaty-making power of the United States and the executive agreement-making power of the United States. Copies of the circulars are retained in the Department’s Bureau of Personnel.
  3. Amended by Public Law 138 of July 8, 1955. (69 Stat. 283)
  4. This memorandum did not gain immediate approval. On October 13, Secretary Dulles told the 261st meeting of the National Security Council of the Syrian request for military equipment and speculated that the United States would turn down the Syrian request. In the meantime, he added, the United States was awaiting the views of Nuri al-Said. (See infra)

    The source text indicates that Hoover initialed his approval of the recommendation on December 8. (See Document 314)