Dulles Thinks Egyptian-communist Arms Deal Will Be Carried out
Menu JTA Search

Dulles Thinks Egyptian-communist Arms Deal Will Be Carried out

Download PDF for this date

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles refrained today from criticizing Egypt for entering into an arms deal with the Soviet bloc. He told a press conference “it is difficult to be critical of countries which, feeling themselves endangered, seek the arms they need for defense.”

The Secretary reported that Assistant Secretary of State George V. Allen’s talks with Egyptian Premier Nasser enabled the United States to gain insight into Egyptian motives while Col. Nasser “gained insight” into American motives, As a result there was achieved “better understanding than before.”

Asked if it was likely that the United States would make arms available to Israel to maintain the balance of power, Mr. Dulles replied; “No, I could not say whether it would be likely.” He explained that the United States does not know the “size or character” of arms Egypt might get from the Soviet bloc or if such shipments would in fact upset the balance of power. He reiterated that it is the American policy to avoid participation in an arms race.

As to whether Egypt would implement its Communist arms deal, Secretary Dulles said he had no reason to believe it would not be carried through. No details were available to the United States, he said, pointing out that most of the Communist Egyptian deal may not yet be finally settled between the two parties.


Mr. Dulles reiterated hope that an arms race might be avoided. Referring to his address of August 26 he said he still hoped such a solution might be achieved. In this address he said the United States would undertake to issue a security guarantee to Israel and the Arab states if the parties involved could arrive at mutual agreement on frontiers.

At his news conference today, Mr. Dulles made the following statement: “At my press conference the last of August (August 30) I was asked about possible Soviet bloc shipments of arms to Arab countries. I made two observations. The first was that the Arab countries were independent governments and free to do whatever they wished in the matter. My second observation was that from the standpoint of U.S. relations with the Soviet Union, such delivery of arms would not contribute to relaxing tensions. These two observations stand today.”

In commenting on Egypt’s arms deal with countries behind the Iron Curtain. Secretary Dulles declared: It is difficult to be critical of countries which, feeling themselves endangered, seek the arms which they sincerely believe they need for defense. On the other hand, I doubt very much that, under the conditions which prevail in the area, it is possible for any country to get security through an arms race. Also it is not easy or pleasant to speculate on the probable motives of the Soviet bloc leaders.

“In my talk about this matter of August 26. I spoke of the fear which dominated the area and said that I felt that it could be dissipated only by collective measures to designed to deter aggression by anyone. I proposed a security guarantee sponsored by the United Nations. That, I said, would relieve the acute fears which both sides now profess. It is still my hope that such a solution may be found.”


Mr. Dulles revealed that he had talked with Soviet Foreign Minister V. Molotov about the supply of Communist arms to Egypt. The first occasion was two weeks ago when he first arrived in New York, he said. The second took place when Mr. Molotov, and the British and French Foreign Ministers had dinner with Mr. Dulles. The Secretary said he took the same line in addressing Mr. Molotov then as was reflected in his statement of today–that delivery of arms to Egypt would not contribute to relaxation of tensions.

Asked about his interpretation of power in the absence of President Eisenhower and specifically about the dispatch of Assistant Secretary Allen to Cairo. Mr. Dulles said that it was not necessary to consult Mr. Eisenhower on the Allen mission. He said that he usually sent his assistants, such as Mr. Allen, on missions without consultation with the President, although he indicated he normally would have informed the President of it.

The Secretary was asked if it was clear whether the deal involved the Soviet Union as well as Czechoslovakia. He replied that it was hard to draw much distinction between the two Communist countries.

Meanwhile, it was learned here today that Assistant Secretary Allen left Egypt for Beirut this morning following his second meeting last night with Premier Nasser. After his hour long conference with Col. Nasser, Mr. Allen said of his mission that it had given him a clear understanding of Egypt’s policy, and that while the United States was not “in 100 percent agreement” with that policy, the U.S. could now develop its own policy on a more realistic basis.

Mr. Allen also told newsmen that he had read with “great interest” alleged French and British documents which Col. Nasser had shown him and which the Egyptian Premier had claimed in a public address proved that the West had favored Israel in arms sales while believing that Egypt was less aggressive than Israel. (The New York Time reported from Cairo today that an American diplomat in Cairo said that Egypt would obtain 100 Soviet designed MIG fighters from Czechoslovakia and that this might give the Arab states a combat advantage over Israel.)

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund