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

117924. Subj: U.S. Reaction to U.K. Arms Sales to South Africa. Ref: State 116834.2

Dept Press Spokesman, in answer standing press inquiries, repeated verbatim statement reftel at noon briefing July 22.
In response press questions after statement, spokesman gave replies summarized below:
Although we informed by UKG in advance, we were not requested associate USG with this proposed UK policy. However U.S. in fact disassociating itself from British move.
Reference in statement to increase in flow of arms includes any increase whatsoever, even in arms solely for defense sea lanes.
U.S. is interested in freedom of seas and passage, and understands UK interest in Cape sea routes, but is not able associate with measure resulting in increased arms flow to South Africa.
Statement is better described as our own policy and attitude than as criticism British policy.
Our position on resolution on South African arms embargo pending before UNSC still under discussion.
No comment on similarity U.S. and Black African Governments positions, or on similarity Wilson government disassociation in 1968 from U.S. bombing Hanoi.
Statement constitutes reaffirmation our stand on arms embargo; it not intended weaken position we have held since 1963.
Statement means both that we cannot endorse proposed British action, and that we will not take same action.
One aspect of U.S. interest this question stems from U.N. resolution of 1963.3


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 12–5 S AFR. Unclassified; Priority. Drafted by Barr, cleared in draft in AF/P and AF/S, cleared in substance in S/PRS and EUR/P, cleared in EUR/BMI, and approved by Witman. Repeated to African diplomatic posts, Paris, and USUN.
  2. In telegram 116834 to London, July 21, the Department transmitted a statement to be delivered July 22, at the noon press briefing, on the U.S. reaction to U.K. arms sales to South Africa. (Ibid.)
  3. Security Council Resolution 181, adopted August 7, 1963, called on member states to “cease forthwith the sale and shipment of arms, ammunition of all types and military vehicles to South Africa.” (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1963, p. 20)