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Letter to Committee Chairmen on the Continuation of Aid to the Netherlands.

April 23, 1952

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I have been advised that a small quantity of petroleum exploration equipment was shipped from the Netherlands to Poland after the effective date of the Mutual Defense Assistance Control Act of 1951 (the Battle Act). This oil drilling equipment is an item listed by the Administrator, pursuant to Title I of the Battle Act, as one embargoed in order to effectuate the purposes of the Act. Any shipment of any such items listed automatically results in all military, economic and financial assistance to the Netherlands being cut off, unless I determine, in accordance with the powers granted to me by Section 103(b) of the Act, that "cessation of aid would clearly be detrimental to the security of the United States." The Administrator of the Act has advised me that aid to the Netherlands should be continued. He made this recommendation after consultation with representatives of the Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce; the Office of Defense Mobilization, the Mutual Security Agency, the Atomic Energy Commission and the Central Intelligence Agency.

I am informed that the facts are as follows;

The shipment, which took place recently, involved small quantities of oil drilling equipment. Technical experts in this country believe that this amount of this particular type of equipment would not add significantly to the capacity of the Soviet bloc to explore for, or to produce petroleum.

The shipment is the final one against binding obligations incurred in August 1949. The original contract was entered into in good faith by the Netherlands shipper and the Polish government enterprise two years before the passage of the Mutual Defense Assistance Control Act and prior to any international understanding that the equipment in question is of primary strategic importance. At the time the original transaction was negotiated, the Dutch shipper had obtained the consent of his government to complete the contract and subsequently had obtained a Dutch export license. By the time the embargo list was established, pursuant to Title I of the Battle Act, and became operative on January 24, 1952, the Dutch equipment had been practically paid for by the Polish enterprise. Before the final shipment took place, officers of the U.S. Government held discussions with the Government of the Netherlands in an effort to find a means of avoiding this shipment. The Netherlands Government considered that this equipment would not significantly contribute to the military potential of the Soviet bloc (a conclusion in which our U.S. technical experts agree). It also took into account the fact that the shipment had been virtually paid for and represented the final transaction under a binding contract made in good faith more than two years previously. The Netherlands Government, therefore, concluded that it would not block the shipment.

Cessation of aid to the Netherlands would materially weaken the whole system of defenses now being built up under the North Atlantic Treaty. Consequently, cessation of aid to the Netherlands would be "detrimental to the security of the United

The Netherlands is making a substantial contribution to the mutual security of the free world. The Netherlands has been a participant in the North Atlantic Treaty defense program since its inception and, notwithstanding a most difficult domestic economic situation, has made courageous political and military decisions and has taken positive steps in order to make its participation in the program effective. The Netherlands Government has demonstrated a cooperative spirit, and has displayed a genuine sense of concern and responsibility toward the mutual defense effort.

The Netherlands Government has committed itself to make substantial contributions-industrial, financial and military--to the North Atlantic Treaty defense program. In this connection, it should be noted that the Netherlands Government is carrying out on its own initiative a strict program of internal financial controls and is reducing the level of civilian consumption in order to provide added resources for defense.

From the standpoint of military strategy, the Netherlands occupies an important position. The Dutch have shown a willingness to cooperate in coordinated planning so as to make possible the maximum use to NATO forces of Holland's strategic location. In addition, the Netherlands Government has specifically committed itself to provide a substantial number of troops, naval vessels and air units and to be responsible for their maintenance and training. However, the Netherlands' contribution to the security of the free world--and, hence, to the security of the United States--cannot, in the absence of assistance, be carried out as planned.

The Netherlands Government cooperates with the United States and other countries of the free world to prevent or limit drastically export to the Soviet bloc of items that are considered to be strategic. The Netherlands controls are well designed to effectuate understandings arrived at and are efficiently operated.

Therefore, in accordance with the provisions of Section 103(b) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Control Act, I have directed that assistance by the United States to the Netherlands be continued. In reaching this determination, I have acted upon the advice of the Administrator of the Mutual Defense Assistance Control Act, Mr. W. Averell Harriman, and have taken into account "the contribution of such country to the mutual security of the free world, the importance of such assistance to the security of the United States, the strategic importance of imports received from countries of the Soviet bloc, and the adequacy of such country's controls over the export to the Soviet bloc of items of strategic importance."

Very sincerely yours,

HARRY S. TRUMAN

Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Kenneth McKellar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, the Honorable Richard B. Russell, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, the Honorable Tom Connally, Chairman of the Senate Committee on foreign Relations, the Honorable Clarence Cannon, Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, the Honorable Carl Vinson, Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, and the Honorable James P. Richards, Chairman of the House Committee on foreign Affairs.

The Mutual Defense Assistance Control Act of 1951 was approved October 26, 1951 (65 Stat. 644).

Harry S. Truman, Letter to Committee Chairmen on the Continuation of Aid to the Netherlands. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230569

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