106. Memorandum From the Director of Central Intelligence (Dulles) to the Acting Secretary of State1

Bob Anderson, on the telephone today, asked me to prepare for your consideration a message along the lines of the attached, to be sent … to Hank2 in Cairo. He felt that it would be highly desirable if we could have an answer by the time he comes here next Thursday.3

If you see no objection, I should also like to ask … Cairo for any thoughts they may have on the same subject to be transmitted together with Hank’s reply. If you concur that it is desirable to send this message—the language is mine, the idea Bob’s—please let me know and I will get it off immediately with any additions or changes you may wish to make.

As you know, we here are very skeptical as to whether any quantities of weapons can be supplied without threatening the [Page 194] disruption of the conversations, but I see no reason why we should not explore all possibilities.

Allen W. Dulles


Suggested draft of message to be delivered … to Ambassador Byroade.5

“Please pass following to Ambassador from Acting Secretary: As will be apparent to you the strongest pressures are building up and finding real support even outside of usual pro-Israel circles for us to agree to supply Israel with some quantities and types of defensive weapons. These pressures have substantially increased as result of publicity on Saudi-Arab tanks.6 I would appreciate your advising me as quickly as possible through this channel if you can think of any device by which, if this becomes absolutely necessary, we can make our action least offensive and damaging to our interests in Egypt and Arab world and to prospects of pending conversations. What is your estimate of amounts and kinds of weapons we could provide while still retaining hope of convincing Abd’l Nasr that no threat is being created to his security. If action should be taken how should the news be conveyed to Abd’l Nasr and how can he be best brought to an understanding of the overall requirements of the situation which make provision of certain arms unavoidable. Anderson will be here for conference Thursday and would appreciate your views by that date.”7

  1. Source: Department of State, NEA Files: Lot 59 D 518, Alpha—Anderson Talks w/BG & Nasser. Jan. ’56—memos, etc. Secret. The following handwritten note by Russell appears on the source text: “2/20. The Under Secretary called A[llen] D[ulles] and told him he approved of the message. FHR.”
  2. Henry A. Byroade.
  3. February 23.
  4. Secret.
  5. On February 21, the CIA sent the Department of State a copy of this message as transmitted to Cairo for Ambassador Byroade. (Department of State, NEA Files: Lot 59 D 518, Alpha—Anderson Talks w/BG & Nasser. Outgoing telegrams—Jan.–March 1956)
  6. On February 16, the Department of State, in response to a query from United Press, announced that 18 M–41 tanks were to be shipped to Saudi Arabia as part of the reimbursable aid agreement with Saudi Arabia of June 18, 1951. Open criticism of the transaction from some members of Congress and from Israeli Ambassador Abba Eban resulted, and President Eisenhower on February 17 ordered an embargo on the shipment of all arms to the Middle East.

    After Departments of State and Defense officials completed a review of all valid export licenses of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, the President on February 18 accepted the recommendation to cancel the arms embargo, thereby enabling the shipment of tanks to Saudi Arabia to proceed.

    For text of the announcement of the President’s decision to suspend the embargo, see Department of State Bulletin, February 27, 1956, p. 325.

  7. See Document 113.