788.5 MAP/3–1850

Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, Department of State ( Ohly ), to the Director of the Office of Military Assistance, Department of Defense ( Lemnitzer )

top secret

Subject: Theory of Ensuing Equipment List Discussions with Iranian Representatives.

As informally agreed upon between our respective staffs, it is believed desirable to reduce to writing the theory which should govern the impending discussions of the end item lists in the Iranian Program with the Iranian representatives. Specific instructions for the United States representatives are concurrently being forwarded under separate cover.1

It is believed desirable that a representative of this office should act as chairman of the United States group and of the discussions. However, as the majority of the discussions will deal with technical military matters, it is anticipated that a large part of the burden of setting forth the military concepts upon which the United States positions are based will naturally devolve upon the senior representative from the Department of Defense.

The Department believes it essential, in view of the fact that no bilateral agreement has yet been negotiated with Iran, that there be no possibility of the Iranians construing these discussions to be other than exploratory. It is therefore intended that the chairman will clarify this point at the outset of the meeting, and that an aide-mémoire expressing this concept will be given to the Iranian representatives.2 This aide-mémoire will also emphasize the secret nature of these discussions.

Should the question of the United States views on either joint staff talks, or of the views of the United States as to the role which Iran should play in any major war be interjected by the Iranian representatives, it will be indicated that those matters are totally separate and apart from the instant discussions, and should be dealt with accordingly.

The theory upon which the discussions should be pursued is that there should be full exploration to seek to obtain the minimum Iranian desires which are consonant with the views of this Government as to the composition of the equipment program. To this end, it is believed [Page 489] desirable that at the outset of the conversations we should solicit from the Iranians their proposal, in writing, as to absolutely all of the items which should be included in the Program. We should simultaneously, upon receipt of this information from them, tender to them our proposal as to the equipment which we believe should be, in their best interest, contemplated.…

It will probably ensue that an adjournment will be indicated at this stage in order to permit both sides to study the respective proposals. It is anticipated that the Iranian proposal will include a request for medium tanks and for destroyers, and possibly will also seek other equipment not included in the United States proposal. In consonance with the general theory of the discussions, every appropriate effort should be made to fully portray to the Iranians all of the military reasons upon which we base our conclusion that medium tanks are fully unsuited to the Iranian needs. This should be explored most thoroughly in an effort to convince the Iranian delegation of the good faith of the United States in differing with their position, and in a thorough attempt to persuade them to depart therefrom.

Such a thorough discussion of the fitness of the medium tank for the Iranian Program would also constitute the groundwork for the necessary further exploration of the strength of the desire of Iran to receive these tanks. Should the Iranian representatives still persist in seeking to obtain the tanks, it might be indicated that the inclusion of the tanks might possibly cause serious damage to the transfer to Iran of considerable military equipment which in the opinion of the United States warrants a higher priority as indicated by the United States list. This should lead, if appropriate, to suggesting that the Iranians should obtain reconsideration of their instructions in light of the views expressed by the United States, ere the United States delegation seek a change in their instructions. The reaction of the Iranian Government to these steps will provide evidence upon which final determination of the political necessity of including the tanks in the Program can be made.

Should the efforts to dissuade the Iranians from their desires prove fruitless, and upon final determination that an offer of tanks should be made, efforts should be made to persuade the Iranians to accept the medium tank armed with the 75 millimeter gun. Advantages of time of delivery, more efficient motor assembly, suitability for use in light of anticipated enemy action, and all other aspects thereof should be fully explored. Should the Iranians indicate a desire to further explore the 76 millimeter tank, every opportunity to give them full facts should be presented, at the same time stressing the United States belief that the tank with the 75 millimeter gun might be adequate, if [Page 490] indeed not preferable, in view of the early delivery date. Final choice of the item again will depend upon the strength of the Iranian view and the political need to meet the Iranian desires.

The United States representatives should seek to avoid reference to specific financial limitations upon the Iranian Program, although general allusions to the undefined limitations would be in order. The necessity of seeking funds from Titles I or II of the Act in order to meet the request for tanks should not be referred to.

Other additional items which might be included in the Iranian list should be dealt with, after indication of due contemplation, upon the general basis that the Program cannot, within its limitation, support them.

It is believed that pursuit of this general line of discussion should permit final determination of the equipment list appropriately to be made after conclusion of the bilateral agreement.

John H. Ohly
  1. Not printed; the present memorandum covers the substance of the instructions (788.5 MAP/3–1850). This memorandum was initialed by Mr. Jernegan and Mr. Ferguson of GTI as well as Mr. Wolf and Germaine B. Angle of S/MDA.
  2. Aide-mémoire of March 24, p. 502.