187. Instruction From the Department of State to Certain Diplomatic Missions1



  • Spanish Membership in NATO

Paris for Embassy, USRO and Knight for Gruenther. USLO Norfolk for SACLANT. The purposes of this circular instruction are (1) to acquaint the recipient posts with recent developments on the question of Spanish membership in NATO, (2) to communicate the Department’s current position on this issue, and (3) to elicit comments.

[2½ lines of source text not declassified] On February 10 at an Embassy dinner, the Spanish Ambassador in Washington, Sr. Areilza, indicated to Ambassador John Davis Lodge that Spain wished to enter [Page 542] NATO. Subsequently on February 15, the Spanish Ambassador called at the Department and brought up the same matter [4½ lines of source text not declassified].

On March 4 General Vigon, Chief of the Spanish High General Staff, asked General Kissner, head of the Joint United States Military Group in Madrid, to determine the possibilities of obtaining authorization at a military rather than a political level for a Spanish military observer on the staff of SHAPE. It was explained to General Vigon that such a proposal would require the sanction of each NATO nation at the political level.

About the same time, the representatives of various NATO powers approached the Department for its views regarding Spanish membership in NATO. [11 lines of source text not declassified]

[1 paragraph (3½ lines of source text) not declassified]

Congressional interest has also been noticeable, the Department having been specifically asked by several Congressmen whether there is a possibility of Spain becoming a member of NATO.

In order to clarify U.S. policy on the subject, the Operations Coordinating Board included Spanish membership in NATO as an emerging problem in its Progress Report on NSC 5418/12 covering the period June 9, 1954, through April 27, 1955. The OCB requested the National Security Council to review U.S. policy toward Spain with regard to the latter’s association with NATO. The NSC met on May 12, 1955, and recorded the following action taken:

[Here follows the text of paragraphs b (1) and (2) of the action taken at the May 12 NSC meeting; see supra]

In the meantime, fourteen resolutions have been introduced in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate (Senate Con. Resolution No. 34, dated May 24, in which 14 Senators joined) all of which stated:

“That it is the sense of the Congress of the United States that the Department of State should take all proper and necessary steps to bring about an invitation to Spain to become a party to the North Atlantic Treaty and a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”

Pursuant to the guidance furnished by the NSC, the Department is taking the following position which will constitute the substance of the Department’s comments to the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees with respect to the resolutions referred to above:

Begin Unclassified.

“It is United States policy to maintain and develop its friendly relations with Spain. The United States also seeks to encourage the improvement of relations between Spain and other nations of Western [Page 543] Europe, in order to tie Spain as closely as possible into plans for the regional defense of Western Europe and to create a climate favorable to eventual Spanish participation in NATO.

“The United States favors Spanish membership in NATO. It must be recognized, however, that the effectiveness of the NATO alliance depends in large measure upon the sincere willingness of all member nations to cooperate with one another. Not only does the admittance of a new member to NATO require the unanimous consent of all NATO governments, but the intimate working relationship that has evolved within NATO can be successful only if all members are prepared to work together on the basis of mutual confidence. While Western European attitudes toward Spain appear much more friendly and conciliatory than a few years ago, it is apparent that several nations are not prepared at this time to agree to Spanish membership in NATO.

“In the present situation it is believed that a strong United States initiative in behalf of Spanish membership in NATO would not be profitable. On the contrary, it might adversely affect the solidarity now existing within NATO itself without accomplishing any concrete results.

“The prospects of attaining the ultimate objective of Spanish membership in NATO will be enhanced as relations between Spain and the other NATO powers continue to improve/The primary responsibility for such an improvement in relations lies, of course, with Spain and the other countries concerned. However, the Department of State is constantly following the situation and will continue to take all appropriate steps to encourage the improvement of relationships, in the hope that full Spanish membership in NATO will finally become practical. In the meantime, it is believed that the concurrent resolution under reference would not serve the purpose for which it is designed and might, for the reasons set forth above, prove counter-productive.”

End Unclassified.

If approached regarding Spanish membership in NATO, the recipient posts are authorized to communicate to appropriate government officials the above position outlined to Congress. Without raising the matter specifically with foreign ministries, the Embassies are requested to submit their comments with respect to local attitudes on this subject, particularly with regard to timing.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/6–2955. Secret. Drafted in WE on June 7; cleared with RA, H, GTI, G, P, EUR, and OEE; and approved by Merchant. Sent to Madrid, London, The Hague, Brussels, Oslo, Rome, Ankara, Athens, Lisbon, Bonn, Copenhagen, Luxembourg, Reykjavik, Ottawa, and Paris.
  2. Document 185.