115. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)1


  • Policy on Shipment of Arms to the Caribbean Area

During our discussion last Saturday2 on the above subject, it was agreed that, in view of the lack of clearance on the part of the Department of Defense of our proposed circular telegram, the Department should continue for the immediate future to carry out the practices on authorization of arms to this area which have been in effect over the past weeks. Specifically, this involves careful scrutiny of all requests [Page 378] for sales of arms to the area, whether arranged through commercial channels or through those of the U.S. military services. Approval has been given to a very limited number of requests and only when there was a clear indication that such approval would not be contrary to our aim of reducing tensions in the area.

In order to implement this understanding on our part, two courses of action appear desirable:

Transmission to ARA posts and to posts in countries which are traditional suppliers of arms of an infotel (Tab A)3 explaining the current U.S. practice respecting authorization of arms shipments to the area and the reasons therefor; and
Presentation to representatives in Washington of these supplier governments of a classified memorandum (Tab B)4 explaining the U.S. practice and seeking these governments’ cooperation in adopting parallel practices.


It is recommended that (1) you authorize the transmission of the infotel;

(2) you authorize ARA to discuss this general question with representatives in Washington of supplier governments and to hand them copies of the memorandum; and5

(3) advice be given the Department of Defense by ARA that the Department contemplates this action prior to carrying out either of recommendations (1) or (2), if you approve them. No written expression of the views of the Department of Defense on our previous proposals has been yet received but ARA would expect to continue its close liaison with the Western Hemisphere Branch of ISA on this question.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 413.118/4–259. Confidential. Drafted by Little.
  2. March 29.
  3. Not attached to the source text; it is printed infra .
  4. Not attached to the source text; see Document 117.
  5. Murphy initialed his approval of these recommendations.