196. Editorial Note

Following the National Security Council meeting held on the morning of April 30, 1982 (see Document 195), Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr. made a statement to the press at 11:30 a.m., outlining both the course of U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the South Atlantic crisis to that point as well as the future direction of U.S. policy toward Argentina and the United Kingdom. Haig noted that the crisis was “about to enter a new and dangerous phase in which large-scale military action is likely” following Argentina’s April 29 rejection of the draft framework agreement offered by Haig. “The United States has thus far refrained from adopting measures in response to the seizure of the islands that could have interfered with our ability to work with both sides in the search for peace. The British Government has shown complete understanding for this position. Now, however, in light of Argentina’s failure to accept a compromise, we must take concrete steps to underscore that the United States cannot and will not condone the use of unlawful force to resolve disputes.”

Haig continued: “The President has therefore ordered the suspension of all military exports to Argentina, the withholding of certification of Argentine eligibility for military sales, and the suspension of new Export-Import Bank credits and guarantees. The President has also directed that the United States will respond positively for requests to materiel support for British forces. There will, of course, be no direct U.S. military involvement.”

The Secretary concluded his statement: “American policy will continue to be guided by our concerns for the rule of law and our desire to facilitate an early and fair settlement. The United States remains ready to assist the parties in finding that settlement. A strictly military outcome cannot endure over time. In the end, there will have to be a negotiated outcome acceptable to the interested parties. Otherwise, we will all face unending hostility and insecurity in the South Atlantic.” The complete text of Secretary Haig’s statement is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, June 1982, pp. 87–88.

In addition to this statement, the new direction of U.S. policy was also spelled out in a message from Haig to the Foreign Ministers of [Page 428]all American Republics, which was transmitted by the Department of State in telegram 116903 to all American Republics diplomatic posts, April 30. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D820227–0109) A corrected text was transmitted to the same recipients later that day in telegram 117273. (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Cable File, Falkland File 04/30/1982 (3)) Copies of the Secretary’s message were also sent to Secretary General of the United Nations Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, transmitted in telegram 116904 to the Mission to the United Nations, April 30, and to the Foreign Ministers of all member countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), as well as the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Spain, transmitted in telegram 116907 to all NATO capitals, Canberra, Tokyo, Wellington, and Madrid, April 30. (Department of State, Central Foreign Policy File, D820227–0125 and D820227–0141) Also on April 30, Secretary Haig signed a Determination formally suspending Export-Import Bank credits to Argentina on non-economic grounds. A signed copy of the Determination, attached to a covering April 30 action memorandum sent to Haig by Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department of State Alvin P. Adams, is in the Department of State, Executive Secretariat, S/S Special Handling Restrictions Memos 1979–1983, Lot 96D262, ES Sensitive April 27–30 1982.

In response to the U.S. statement, Argentine Foreign Minister Nicanor Costa Méndez delivered a formal letter of protest to Secretary Haig on May 2. The text of the letter, which described the U.S. action as “highly unfriendly” and “surprising,” was transmitted by the Department of State to the Embassy in Buenos Aires in telegram 118584, May 3. (Reagan Library, Executive Secretariat, NSC Cable File, Falkland File 05/03/1982 (1))