591. Letter From the Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense (Gates)1

Dear Tom: I have your letter of October 4, 19602 in which you refer to Castro’s recent statments indicating that he may unilaterally denounce the treaty under which we maintain the Base at Guantanamo. In your letter you informed me that you have reaffirmed your instructions to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that we hold this Base against all forms of harassment, including armed attack.

I appreciate your assurance that you do not anticipate taking any provocative steps, and I am in complete agreement that your contingency plans should be prepared to include defensive actions beyond the perimeter of the Base should this be required to meet armed attack. I am sure you will agree, however, that a decision of this nature should be made by the President.

It should, of course, also be borne in mind in planning against the contingency of an armed attack upon the Guantanamo Base that such an action by the Cuban Government would call for the immediate invocation by this Government of Article 3 of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance.3 As you know, this article concerns the responsibilities of all the American States when an armed attack upon one of them occurs.

With warmest personal regards,

Most sincerely,

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737. 00/10–1460. Secret. Drafted by Vallon. Also published in Declassified Documents, 1983, 918.
  2. Document 586.
  3. Signed at Rio de Janeiro on September 2, 1947; for text, see 62 Stat. (2) 1681.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.