70. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Argentina1

310191. Subject: Sales to Argentine Armed Forces

1. Department has authorized export of pontoon bridges and recommend to Department of Commerce approval of Bell commercial helicopters. Although Argentine Embassy in Washington has been advised of action, post also may wish to advise GOA of U.S. action on these cases, which serve as evidence of USG interest in a better [Page 245] relationship with Argentina—one which we hope will evolve favorably as Human Rights situation improves.

2. On December 19, Argentine Ambassador appealed to ARA Deputy Assistant Secretary Mcneil for prompt action on export of Pontoon bridges, helicopters and Neptune aircraft.2

3. On December 20, Department authorized export of almost $3 million in aluminum pontoon bridges. These items had been purchased under FMS and paid for in full.

4. On December 27, sale of 8 commercially configured Bell helicopters to air force was approved in Department.3 Department of Commerce has been notified. We understand these helicopters will be used inter alia for rescue purposes, and we were informed that Argentina became very concerned about its deficiency in helicopters during November earthquake relief efforts as well as Australian airlines crash resuce operations. Furthermore, Argentines agreed to deletion of armor and Collins kit which had placed helicopters previously on munitions list, and assured us that the helicopters “would be used for customary air force purposes.”4

5. Decision on Neptune aircraft for cannibalizing will be communicated to you as soon as possible.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780003–0409. Limited Official Use; Priority. Drafted by Rondon, cleared for information by Oxman and O. Jones and in EB/ITP/EWT and H, approved by Zimmermann.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found.
  4. On August 30, Todman told Aja Espil that “the helicopters would be sold, but the machine gun mounts would not be permitted on any of the planes, and armor plating would be allowed on only those two aircraft used to transport President Videla. Todman also informed Aja Espil that assurances would have to be given by the Argentine government that the aircraft would not be used for internal security purposes.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770321–0095)