216. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1

5757. Subject: 155mm guns for Jordan.

Speaking “off-the-record” on 16th, Zaid Rifai read to me from a letter sent to King Hussein by “a British person.” The writer stated that his firm had been able to locate seventy 155-mm Long Tom guns which were immediately available. Shortly after finding these 70 guns, however, the “source of supply” had informed the writer of the letter that the guns had originally come from the U.S. Source alleged the American authorities had learned of Jordanian interest in them and had taken steps to insure that they could not be made available for sale to Jordan. The writer stated that he regretted that particular source was no longer available but that he was following up certain other sources (Zaid implied the other source was Turkey) and that he hoped to be able to find 20 or 25 guns for Jordan.
According to Zaid, King Hussein is furious about the indication that the USG has taken steps to cut off all possible sources of 155-mm guns for Jordan. The King has been making noises that he will accept Iraqi offers to supply new 122 (possibly 130) mm guns from the Soviet Union as a “gift.” Zaid said quite a “head of steam” has built up on this matter and that both King Hussein and General Khammash are determined that they must at least make up their losses in this category of weaponry. He said the King and Khammash are particularly upset that USG officials on the one hand have been implying that 155-mm guns are not available because they cannot be located, whereas, in fact, the USG seems to have taken steps to make them “unavailable.”2
Zaid indicated the JAA currently has eight 155-mm guns operational. This agrees with indication given DATT July 16 by Commanding Gen 2nd Div.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files, 1967-69, DEF 12-5 JORDAN. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Ambassador Symmes sent an official-informal letter to Rodger Davies on July 18 emphasizing the problem posed by the 155-mm guns. He noted that he had discussed the problem briefly with Ball and Sisco and had found them opposed to supplying such artillery to Jordan, “particularly in the period prior to November.” Symmes referred again to the King’s angry reaction and concluded: “I think whatever we do we have got to come clean soon with the King. We cannot continue this masquerade of ‘unavailability.’ It is causing further disenchantment with us and is not a correct way to deal with a friend.” (Ibid.) Davies responded in a July 25 letter that the Departments of State and Defense were puzzled by the reference to 70 155-mm guns. “We know nothing of this and most certainly have not been requested to assent to provision of 155 mm guns by the British.” He added, however, that Ball and Sisco’s reactions concerning the guns were generally shared in the Department. (Ibid.)