788.00/3–2550: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Iran

top secret
us urgent

342. Although there has not been time receive ur reply Deptel 334 Mar 24,1 because time for action may be short you are authorized, if you think it useful,2 speak frankly to Shah along fol lines (reurtels 509, 510,3 520 of Mar 23):4

You have heard Shah has said fight against corruption must be postponed. You wld naturally be interested to know whether this report is correct and what it signifies, especially in view his assurances to you Mar 21 re determination continue press for reform. If true, this change in attitude by His Majesty will cause deep disappointment and concern to Amer Govt and people, who had been greatly cheered by firm statements Shah made during US visit and after return. US Govt will be especially concerned at discouraging effect changed attitude will probably have on Irans sincerely working for benefit their country.
Although we continue our policy non-intervention internal Iran political affairs, you believe it your duty point out that in view outside world as well as patriotic Irans failure of Shah in near future to appoint key Govt officials who wld symbolize in public minds policies of progress and reform wld be taken as confirmation of report re postponement anti-corruption struggle and wld contribute to discouragement of Iran people as well as friends of Iran abroad. (FYI in speaking of need to appoint progressive officials “in near future” we have in mind possibility Shah may have valid reason, unknown to us, for choosing Mansur as PM at this particular time in order to perform particular task. We might not complain of appointment if dictated by sound reasons practical politics, but we wld wish to impress on Shah that less questionable political leadership shld be brought forward without too much delay. You shld of course refrain from raising specific objection to Mansur appointment.)
You have heard reports from several sources that secret negotiations with Russians are in progress and that they were undertaken because Iran failed receive what it considered adequate Amer assistance. You wld be glad to know whether these reports correct. If so, you wish point out history has shown neither Iran nor any other country can expect anything but disaster from enlisting aid of Russian [Page 505] bear. This does not mean US opposes Iran attempts satisfy just claims against USSR, such as gold balance improperly withheld by Moscow, or to establish normal, equitable trade and economic relations with USSR. However, you consider it wld be foolhardy to expect that Russians wld give special assistance of sort Iran apparently desired, except in return for far-reaching and ultimately fatal concessions. You are also obliged to point out development of any close relationship between Iran and USSR, involving real or apparent realignment of Iran polit attitude, wld have worst possible effect on Amer public opinion, including Congress.
Essential need of Iran, in view of US Govt, is progressive, courageous leadership, which only Shah himself can provide. With such leadership, progressive, patriotic, and competent Irans will rally in support and all national problems can be solved in time. Without it, we fear no amount of assistance from any source cld be effective. You regret that Shah’s recent attitude and actions, if correctly reported, have given impression he has faltered in his previous determination to show his people road to progress.
  1. Not printed.
  2. No evidence was found in Department of State files indicating that the Embassy in Iran acted on these instructions.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. Ante, p. 490.