Volume #23 - 79.|
QUESTIONS DE DÉFENSE ET SÉCURITÉ
Le sous-secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
au haut-commissaire au Royaume-Uni
le 3 janvier 1956|
Dear Mr. Robertson,
The purpose of this letter is to bring up-to-date the information which has been sent to you on the question of alerts procedures.
2. As your know, Mr. Heeney called on the Secretary of State on April 29. His visit followed shortly after one by the United Kingdom Chargé d'Affaires. He left with Mr. Dulles an informal memorandum outlining the points in paragraph 5 of telegram No. EX-743 of April 22 to Washington, which went to you as telegram No. 664.67 These were that there had been some preliminary discussion of the subject of alerts procedures between Mr. Pearson and representatives of the U.K. Government at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meetings; that the Canadian Government attached importance to reaching tripartite agreement on the matter; that we were aware of the U.K. working paper;68 and that it seemed to us, from what we knew of it, that it might serve as a point of departure for further discussion on a tripartite basis.
3. Mr. Dulles raised no objection in principle, and it was left that our Embassy in Washington would have some further consultation with officers of the State Department after the question had been examined more fully by them.
4. There the matter rested, officially, until quite recently. Unofficially, we heard from a variety of sources that the tripartite proposal was being opposed by several interested agencies of the U.S. Government, in particular by some sections of the Pentagon and by the Intelligence Advisory Committee of the National Security Council.
5. Nevertheless, on November 18 the State Department called in Mr. Glazebrook and handed him an Aide-Mémoire69 (copy attached), dated the same day, stating that subject to certain general and specific comments, the interested United States agencies see no objection to the procedures outlined in the British Memorandum and that the State Department would be happy to explore further with representatives of the Canadian and British Embassies the procedures for political consultation. A similar communication was made to the British Embassy.
6. While at first sight this reply is more encouraging than we had anticipated, a preliminary examination of the Aide-Mémoire here has given rise to a number of questions on which, it seems to me, we shall have to seek clarification. Horsey of the State Department in fact anticipated this by telling Glazebrook that the Aide-Mémoire was a composite document, the meaning of which was not entirely clear even to the State Department.
7. The points which occur to us as needing clarification are as follows:
Paragraph 1 of the General Comments
We are not clear what is meant by the phrase or that of their treaty partners. While we fully expected that the United States Government would reserve its freedom of action to exercise its right of self defence, this phrase might be taken to mean that it was free to take action involving its treaty partners without consultation. On the other hand, it may merely be an indirect reference to the wording of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Paragraph 2 of the General Comments
The Aide-Mémoire states that the procedures outlined in the U.K. paper should be regarded as exceptional. While we would agree that the proposed procedures are supplementary to existing NATO Alerts Procedures, as the Aide-Mémoire suggests, we think there may be some difficulty in determining the criterion whereby these special procedures would come into force, in the light of the next sentence which points out that the procedures would only take effect where sensitive information was involved. This may or may not present a problem but we are inclined to think we should seek further clarification.
Paragraph 4 of the General Comments
While we are not inclined to question the flow of intelligence between Washington and Ottawa, we are not satisfied that the present channels are either sufficiently clearly established or expeditious. Although we receive the United States Watch Committee Reports, we do not have direct liaison with that body or with the Indications Centre. If this paragraph means that the United States would exchange no more than current periodic Watch Committee reports, then we do not think that our principal worry is met. As you know, in a period of rising international tension we should like to receive the results of any crash meeting of the Watch Committee or the Intelligence Advisory Committee but I do not believe there is any assurance at the moment that we should necessarily do so. So far as speed is concerned, we believe that Ottawa requires a direct line between its J.I.C. organization and whatever central organization the United States authorities choose to nominate, whether this be the Indications Centre, or the Watch Committee or the I.A.C. We believe, therefore, that we should seek clarification as to what the United States authorities would actually do under the terms of paragraph 4, in the event of information being received in Washington which, on examination, might lead them to apprehend a state of war. It may be that the chief problem is a mechanical one but, at the moment, we are a little inclined to doubt it.
You will note from the above that we doubt the validity of the second sentence. As to further discussions on the procedures for political consultation, although we are not sure what the United States authorities have in mind, we believe that, in an emergency, some procedures for more direct consultation than through Embassies might be necessary. In any event we consider that there is a requirement for the expeditious exchange of information of a kind which, if examined, might cause any of the three Governments to conclude that there was a possibility of hostilities occurring within the NATO area. The exchange of assessments based on such information is, of course, of equal importance and we are not clear whether the United States Aide-Mémoire envisages procedures between the intelligence authorities which would cover this requirement. If the U.K. authorities agree, we might re-open the intelligence problem through the U.S. invitation to discuss procedures concerning political consultation, on the grounds that political consultation can only work satisfactorily if a satisfactory system of exchanging intelligence is in being.
8. No doubt further questions will occur to you. I should be most grateful to have the U.K. comments on the Aide-Mémoire when you have had a chance to discuss it with Patrick Dean.
9. My own feeling is that we should accept the State Department offer to explore the procedures for political consultations with representatives of the Canadian and British Embassies in Washington. Presumably the stage has now been reached where the talks themselves could be tripartite.
10. The U.K. working paper is, of course, an outline of proposed U.K. procedures, and is not therefore entirely suitable in its present form for use by all three Governments. It seems to me that it would be worth exploring the desirability of adopting a general formula stating the principles for the exchange of intelligence within the context of the stated aim of the U.K. paper and for consequent consultation at all levels including between Ministers. Detailed procedures could, I think, be more easily worked out if these were related to some such general formula. The sort of formula I have in mind would be similar to that mentioned in paragraph 15 below, expanded in the NATO context.
11. Two subjects not dealt with in any detail by the working paper and Aide-Mémoire are crash procedures and procedures for non-NATO areas. On crash procedures the working paper says:
2. This paper sets out the stages which ought to be completed if time allowed. It is recognized that time may not be available for this and that a telescoped procedure will also have to be studied.
Concerning procedures for non-NATO areas the working paper says:
Major aggression by the Communist bloc is possible in other areas (than NATO) and suitable procedures would be required to meet these cases but it would be convenient to consider them separately.
And the Aide-Mémoire says:
5. No decision should be taken at the present time about the possible adaptation of these procedures to other areas of the world.
12. The question of crash procedures in connection with aggression against the NATO area would, I should think, come up at a fairly early stage. Whether or not it would be possible to lead from discussion of procedures for the NATO area to discussion of procedures for non-NATO areas is difficult to judge at present.
13. I should also like to bring you up-to-date on the question of strategic alerts in relation to the operation of our joint continental air defence system, which we raised in an exploratory way at our most recent meeting of consultation with the Americans on December 5.70 Our approach to this question, which we are attempting to keep separate from the questions of tripartite and NATO alerts, is outlined in paragraphs 7-10 and the Annex of a memorandum for the Minister, dated November 30, of which a copy is attached.71 The Americans present agreed that the formula attached to the Annex might serve as a useful basis for further discussions.
14. In telegram No. 2044 of December 15? (copy attached), Mr. Heeney has reported on action taken since the meeting of consultation. As you will see, our Embassy has informed the U.K. Embassy of the discussion of continental alerts, in accordance with our normal practice after a meeting of consultation, of which the State Department is fully aware.
15. We have subsequently learned that our Embassy in Washington has given a copy of our formula to the U.K. Embassy. You are therefore at liberty to give a copy of it to Dean.
16. We are most concerned to ensure that the British do not get any idea that, by raising the subject of continental alerts with the Americans, we are attempting to do an end run on the tripartite approach. I hope you will be able to satisfy Dean of this, pointing out to him that we have a special bilateral problem of alerts with the United States by reason of our joint air defence arrangements. At the same time, we must be careful to avoid any possibility of the Americans thinking that we are passing on to the British information which they should not have on our joint continental defence arrangements.
17. In replying to Mr. Heeney's telegram No. 2044 (in telegram No. DL-1 of December 30,? copy attached), we have agreed with the proposal that bilateral discussions should commence in Washington in the latter part of January. I do not think that the holding of these discussions before the tripartite discussions need present any difficulties. The bilateral discussions will be related to the special problems connected with the efficient operation of the continental air defence system, including the exchange of information which might lead to political consultation and the alerting of the system.
18. Could you ask Dean whom the U.K. authorities are proposing to send to the tripartite talks? Our own tentative view is that we would like to have the discussions on a J.I.C. level but clearly this will depend on whom the Americans name as their representatives. We would also assume that, if they are on the J.I.C. level, Dean himself would attend, presumably with a service representative.
19. I am inclined to agree with Mr. Heeney's suggestion that no formal reply need be made to the U.S. Aide-Mémoire until the situation is a good deal clearer than at present. I shall keep Mr. Heeney informed of your consultation with the U.K. authorities, and presume that the Foreign Office will likewise inform the U.K. Embassy in Washington.
20. We are hoping to get ahead with this question in the near future and I should be grateful to hear from you as soon as convenient.