473. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Pakistan 1

87856. Ref (Notal): (a) Rawalpindi 1269;2 (b) State 61581;3 (c) Karachi 807;4 (d) Rawalpindi 1724;5 (e) Rome 3081;6 (f) Teheran 2471;7 (g) Rawalpindi 2279;8 (h) Teheran 25029; (i) Bonn 6251;10 (j) Rawalpindi [Page 930] 2019;11 (k) Teheran 2563.12 Subject: Military Supply, M–47 Tanks, and Peshawar.

While some loose ends remain, principal pieces involved in Pak tank problem now seem on table. We wish to (a) move to decision ASAP and (b) avoid possibility of misunderstanding among several parties involved in complicated procedure. US position must rest on following basic points, which Embassy Rawalpindi authorized convey (except as noted FYI) to GOP.
We are prepared in first instance to act only on up to 100 tanks and request to us from any seller country should be so presented. When contractual agreements are completed for the first 100 tanks, we would be willing to consider other requests including second 100 tanks. This is as responsive as we can be at this time.
We have now received from GOP assurances that (1) it will scrap obsolete tanks (M–24s) one-for-one for any US-controlled tanks acquired (ref d, para 3 and ref j, para 7c); (2) that GOP has total of 150–160 ChiCom tanks with no additional tanks on order from ChiComs (refs d, para 3 and g, para 3); and that (3) GOP will procure no additional tanks from any source without consultation USG.
Approval by us of any sale would be conditioned on absolute and unequivocal confirmation of 3 above. Should it become apparent after approval that Pakistan had already arranged, by contract or other less formal mode, for more than the stated 150–160 ChiCom tanks we would have to withdraw our approval. Embassy Rawalpindi should now ask for such confirmation. In addition we believe that you should reiterate importance we place on continued reduction in defense spending in both Pakistan and India which is basic objective whole military supply policy.
While we are gratified at close and cordial relationship between Iran and Pakistan underlying the Iranian offer described by Admiral Khan (ref f, para 2c), we strongly prefer in light current USG arms [Page 931] discussions with Iran that GOP go to European source rather than to Iran.
FYI: We do not wish to make an issue of Iranian offer with GOP and believe above is as far as you should go in explaining our negative reaction re Iranian sale. In fact, however, we would appreciate all possible efforts your part to steer GOP away from involvement with Iran in this matter. The GOI has recently informed US of plans to embark on a large new five-year military procurement program at a time when we are having difficulty in meeting our existing MAP and credit sales commitments because of Congressional action. In our efforts to persuade the GOI to reduce the scale of its military program, we believe we have been successful in persuading the Shah at least tentatively to avoid heavy expenditures for new tanks by rehabilitating older M–47s. We cannot, therefore, approve Iranian tank sales to Pakistan and an Iranian request would be extremely embarrassing to us at this time. End FYI.
Information we have to date on European sources, costs, condition of tanks and delivery times is as yet incomplete and in part contradictory. Subject to closer look when more facts are in, terms offered to date do not seem preclude our approval of sale.
Should GOP wish us act on Italian proposal, it will be necessary clarify discrepancies between ref f, para 2, in which first 50 tanks are said to be Italian owned with remainder to be procured from Germany and ref e, para 1b, which indicates all tanks to be from surplus stocks in Germany. We do not exclude possibility of Italy acquiring and rehabilitating up to 100 German tanks for GOP, but all parties concerned should understand before the event that if later pressed we will have to indicate we knew and agreed that tanks sold by FRG to Italy were to facilitate Italian sale to Pakistan.
FYI: Re possible FRG role, we note (ref i) that FonOff now considering whether Cabinet and Bundestag might agree to direct sale tanks to Pakistan. We would appreciate Embassy Bonn’s prognosis. End FYI.
Paks stated second preference as M–47 source, Belgium, might be most acceptable from all points of view. If GOP seriously interested it should stimulate Belgian request to USG, complete with info on costs, condition of tanks, and projected delivery schedule. FYI: If current negotiations with Italians for cooperative logistics agreement are successful, we might prefer Italians as best source. End FYI.
In sum, if GOP wants action on tanks, it should: (a) unequivocally confirm assurances paras 3 and 4 above; (b) cast request in terms of 100 M–47s; (c) select optimum supply source, hopefully giving full weight to foregoing considerations; and (d) get source government to submit request to USG for approval to sell to GOP, such request to be [Page 932] accompanied by data on costs, condition of tanks, financing terms and delivery schedules to permit our response. FYI: We would prefer not to be faced at the same time with active requests from more than one country. End FYI.
FYI: We assume you will probably wish make above points to President Ayub or MOD Khan who has represented GOP in bulk of discussion this subject. We expect, however, to be filling in Pak Embassy here as well and wonder if it would not be good idea for you to touch base with MFA (perhaps Pirzada himself) in Rawalpindi also. Our views re connection between military supply and Peshawar which has appeared in discussions with Admiral Khan (refs a and f) follow in septel 13 which should be read with this message as guidance for further handling that matter. End FYI.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 12–5 PAK. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Spain and Lewis D. Junior (G/PM) on December 15; cleared by Heck, Country Director for Iran Theodore L. Eliot, Jr., Rockwell, Handley, Edwin D. Crowley (EUR/GER), Stabler (EUR/AIS), Edgar J. Beigel (EUR/FBX), Battle, Williams, and Hamilton, and in draft by Wolf, Newcomer, and Major Wix (DOD/ISA); and approved by Katzenbach. Repeated to Tehran, Rome, CINCSTRIKE, CINCEUR, Brussels, and Bonn.
  2. Document 464.
  3. Document 469.
  4. See footnote 3, Document 469.
  5. See footnote 7, Document 472.
  6. Telegram 3081 from Rome, December 11, reported that the Italian Ministry of Defense was prepared to refurbish and sell 200 M–47 tanks to Pakistan if authorized to do so by the United States. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 12–5 PAK)
  7. Telegram 2471 from Tehran, December 10, from Oehlert who was visiting Iran, reported on his conversation that day with Defense Minister Khan, who was also visiting Iran. Khan was at the point of returning to Pakistan following a “tank tour,” which took him to Belgium, Italy, and Iran. He felt that the terms offered by Iran were the most favorable available. Oehlert turned the conversation to the question of the extension of the agreement governing the U.S. communication facilities at Peshawar. Khan said that the Foreign Ministry would oppose an extension, but that he favored one and intended to press his viewpoint with Ayub. He anticipated that Ayub would agree with him. (Ibid.)
  8. In telegram 2279 from Rawalpindi, December 12, the Embassy reported that Defense Minister Khan had reviewed the price and availability of M–47 tanks from Italy, Belgium, and Iran and indicated a preference for dealing with Iran. (Ibid.)
  9. In telegram 2502 from Tehran, December 13, the Embassy expressed its reluctance to concur in the transfer of refurbished M–47 tanks from Iran to Pakistan. The Embassy noted that the proposed transfer would contribute to the problem of attempting to persuade the Shah to avoid heavy expenditures for new tanks. (Ibid.)
  10. In telegram 6251 from Bonn, December 13, the Embassy reported that the Foreign Office had been impressed by a briefing provided by the Embassy concerning Congressional sensitivities with respect to arms transfers, particularly transfers to the subcontinent. (Ibid., DEF 19–8 US–GERW)
  11. Document 470.
  12. In telegram 2563 from Tehran, December 18, from Oehlert, he expressed sympathy with the concerns outlined in telegram 2502 from Tehran. He noted, however, that the United States had indicated to Pakistan that it would give serious consideration to a third-country request to transfer 100 tanks to Pakistan if the terms were favorable, with the possibility of a subsequent transfer of an additional 100. The terms offered Pakistan by Iran were the most favorable of the offers presented, and Oehlert was concerned that if the United States did not authorize the sale by Iran there would be resentment in Rawalpindi. In the event that the Iranian sale could not be authorized, Oehlert asked for permission to inform the Ayub government that the United States would look with favor on a request from Belgium to transfer 200 tanks to Pakistan, provided that the price was favorable. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, DEF 19–8 US–GERW)
  13. Document 474.