238. Telegram From the Embassy in Kuwait to the Department of State 1

1304. Ref: State 210122.2

Amir proposes Bedu chicanery by changing manifests to permit tankers to carry oil to UK or US.3 Ambassador Arthur thinks this ruse once discovered may lead to public demand for stronger action against companies and that Amir would be obliged to act. I also consider it risky.
Inasmuch as Gulf sells most of its share KOC crude to Shell the problem is essentially a UK one in first instance. Amb Arthur was told by Amir several days ago and made arrangements with UK Foreign Office about secrecy which I think should be revised to bring KOC Director Lee into act for consultation at once.
Arthur promised cable my views London and I agreed to leave it UK to tell us in Washington and/or London on need-to-know basis. Hope you will deal with it that way in first instance.4 Seems to me there is time to deal this way.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. Secret; Exdis; Immediate. Passed to the White House.
  2. Not found.
  3. Ambassador Cottam’s earlier reports of his meeting with the Amir were restrained, and he declined to commit the details to paper until he had spoken with his British counterpart. (Telegram 1299 from Kuwait City, June 10; Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Kuwait; and telegram 1303 from Kuwait City, June 10; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, PET 17–1 ARAB)
  4. On June 14 the Department suggested that the Ambassador not raise the issue with the Amir. “Should he inquire you authorized tell him on personal basis you think suggestion might have number real problems.” The Americans left the British to deal with BP and Shell. (Telegram 210928 to Kuwait City, June 14; ibid.) The next day a British Foreign Office source told the Embassy in London that both companies felt such a move would be a mistake. “FonOff indicated its own concurrence in this view saying this matter of prudence rather than ethics, but noting also that effort at deception, particularly with flags, would raise number of difficult questions concerning maritime law and insurance. Without specific reference to Kuwait situation, Esso, Mobil and Gulf London reps indicated their view that companies should follow closely destination advice of Middle East governments.” (Telegram 10390 from London, June 15; ibid.)