368. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom 1

3000. AP report datelined London Oct 12 claims UK contemplating sale 15 jet Hawker Hunters to replace piston engine Sea Fury Fighters now in possession Cuban Air Force and matter will come before cabinet in next week or so.

Department has been working on revision Caribbean arms policy in consultation with British Embassy and agreement reached to continue ban export combat aircraft to Cuba and Dominican Republic.

British Embassy today presented justifications for making sale Hunters an exception indicating transaction would be held up until Department has had opportunity present its views.2

Department believes possession of Hunters would significantly increase Cuban military potential, re-open entire question of arms for area, produce a highly unfavorable public reaction in the US and upset the tentative balance in arms between Cuba and D.R. possibly generating arms race between two countries.

In addition transaction could easily be interpreted by other supplier countries as signaling end of British cooperation with US policy on Caribbean arms shipments with result they might relax their restrictions to protect interests own suppliers. Therefore, Department strongly opposes reported transaction.

Department preparing detailed exposition these views for presentation British Embassy here. Meanwhile, Embassy requested bring these preliminary views of Department to attention Foreign Office soonest at appropriately high level.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.5621/10–1459. Confidential. Drafted by Owen and Vallon, cleared in substance with James D. Moffett (BNA) and C. Arnold Freshman (SCA/MC), and approved by Vallon who signed for Herter. Repeated to Havana and Ciudad Trujillo.
  2. A copy of the British Embassy’s note of October 14 on this subject is attached to a memorandum of November 18 from Rubottom to Herter. (ibid., Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, November 1959)