Suez Canal - 23 October 1956

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Suez Canal - 23 October 1956

P.M. 

Now seems tht. I. won't attack.  We can't hold our mil. prepns. for more than a week or so.  Winter opn. wd. not be satisf. 
 French are much concerned.  They have had provn. over supply of arms by E. to Alg. rebels.  They may wish to act alone – or even with I. – and ask for facilities in Cyprus.  Best course : get Pineau over this p.m. & see how gravely they regard provocation.  We mght support them in action over that.

A.H. 

V. unwise to hold reservists much longer.
 Condn. of vehicles loaded in ships has already deteriorated.  Can't delay much longer re-loading.

P.M. 

Also know now tht. I. wd. intervene if we acted.

S.Ll. 

Egyptians will offer to discuss – w'in S.C. resolution.

H.M. 

Shd. we summon them to submit proposals of a specified kind?  Keep initiative?


S.Ll. 

We can now secure internatl control of Canal – by negotn.  We can't however secure our 2nd. objective of cutting N. down to size.  Nor cd. we complete negotns. before date on wh. we will need to dismount our opern.


P.M. 

If we have to go to Geneva, we must release reservists.


H.M. 

If we decide tht. we can't miss this opportunity (R. & U.S. otherwise engaged) we must consider best method.  Most honourable course is to put in ultimatum based on 18-Power resoln.


R.A.B. 

That wd. be v. diff. decn.  Parlt. wd. be dismayed – coming in middle of negotn.


A.H. 

Cd. you have a better occasion for force, later in negotns.


P.M. 

V. unlikely.


S.Ll. 

You cdn't attack later, on this issue.  There will be others.


P.M. 

But not occasions on which we cd. act – e.g. Libya or fall of Nuri.

Taken from C.M. 72(56) - Meeting held on 23 October 1956.