788.5 MAP/3–2450

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Iranian Affairs (Ferguson)


Subject: Call of Ambassador Ala on March 24, 1950.

Participants: The Iranian Ambassador, Mr. Ala
NEA—Mr. Hare
GTI—Mr. Jernegan
Mr. Ferguson
S/MDA—Mr. Wolf1


The Iranian Ambassador called on Mr. Hare at his own request to reiterate, he said, previous Iranian arguments for effective military assistance and to give the Department further information on Iranian military objectives. Mr. Ala said that the four officers who would conduct the discussions on military assistance with us were well qualified and would explain all of Iran’s needs and requirements in full frankness. The Ambassador said that he believed the American Military Mission in Iran had cooperated with the Iranian Army in preparing its lists and had sympathized with the Iranian aims, but he did not know whether General Evans had actually seen the lists the delegation had brought with them. He also said that he understood that General Koenig2 who had made a special trip to Iran was in full agreement with the Iranian program.

Mr. Ala expressed the hope that the meeting on March 24 would consist primarily of a preliminary get-together and would not resolve itself into a cut and dried presentation of demands on one side and “refrigerating restrictions” on the other. He said the Iranian Army, if properly equipped, would be able to offer an initial effective resistance to an invading army. Then, by strategic retreat, it could cut the invader’s lines of communication, etc., and play an important role in any world outbreak. He said that to carry out this program a minimum army of 150,000 was required equipped with the most modern and effective weapons.

Mr. Ala said it was not logical to look at each country in the Middle East separately; that there must be a coordinated plan with all the other countries of the area. He made particular reference to Turkey. “A chain,” he said, “is as strong as its weakest link”. He hoped in the [Page 501] discussions the American negotiators would be able to go outside the limits imposed by Congress3 and take into consideration the real requirements of Iran and not merely talk dollars. General Amini,4 Mr. Ala said, would develop the Iranian strategic plan in the discussions.

Mr. Jernegan informed the Ambassador that there was no intention to confine the discussions to merely one meeting and that there would probably be several, but none of the Americans present would be authorized to discuss war plans. Mr. Hare said it was difficult in any discussion of this nature to avoid being guided by the limitations set by Congress since if it had not been for the law enacted by Congress there would not be occasion for any discussions at all. Mr. Ala replied that the Shah while in this country had discussed his plans with the Secretary and with General Bradley5 and had expressed the hope that the present program was merely a beginning and that future years would see an increased program of military assistance for Iran. He said the Shah had understood that under the legislation enacted by Congress the President had authority to divert to particular countries certain funds allocated for others and that it might be possible for Iran to get a larger share than what would normally be allotted it by the division of the Title 3 funds. He mentioned the figure of 5 percent.6 Mr. Jernegan explained that we could not conduct the discussions in terms of dollars since the goal of the program was to give Iran what it could use most effectively and a great deal would depend upon whether the equipment furnished was surplus or had to be purchased new. Mr. Wolf said that it would be indeed helpful to know Iran’s complete needs. He explained to the Ambassador that it is beyond the capabilities of the United States to give every country receiving military assistance everything they need and that therefore it has to be reduced to a question of priorities and how the equipment furnished will be used. He expressed the opinion that “too much too soon” could be as harmful as “too little too late”. The Ambassador expressed the opinion that the Shah believes that to be in any way effective, our military assistance program must be sufficient for Iran’s very real needs.

  1. Joseph J. Wolf, Foreign Affairs Officer.
  2. Presumably Brig. Gen. Egmont Francis Koenig, USA (Ret.). The editors have found no documentation in Department of State files on a special trip to Iran by Brigadier General Koenig.
  3. Sec. 302 of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 authorized appropriation of $27,640,000 in fiscal year 1950 for assistance to Iran, Korea, and the Philippines; Public Law 329, 81st Cong., 1st sess., approved October 6, 1949 (63 Stat. 714).
  4. Brig. Gen. Mahmoud Amini, member of the Iranian military mission to the United States to discuss the military aid program.
  5. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  6. Sec. 407 (c) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949 provided for the use of 5% of any of the amounts available for any title of that Act for the purposes of any other title by Presidential determination communicated to the appropriate committees of Congress.