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160. Memorandum for the Record Prepared in the Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency1

SUBJECT

  • Minutes of Meeting with Representatives of State, Defense, and JCS, 25 February 1953

PRESENT

  • [less than 1 line not declassified]
  • State

    • Mr. Horsey (part-time)
    • Mr. Strong
    • Mr. Berry
    • Defense
    • Colonel Wright (JSPD)
    • Lieutenant Colonel Black (OSD)
  • CIA

    • Brigadier General Balmer, [less than 1 line not declassified]
    • [4 lines not declassified]
    • Mr. Waller [less than 1 line not declassified]
    • [2 lines not declassified]

[Omitted here are 3 pages of discussion on matters unrelated to Iran.]

4. Report on Iran:

Mr. Waller described current CIA psychological warfare and paramilitary operations and plans with respect to five possible conditions in Iran. These are: (a) the present government; (b) a more rational government oriented toward the West; (c) a more hostile government; (d) a government under absolute Tudeh control; and (e) Soviet occupation.

Under present conditions, the prime target is the Tudeh Party, and CIA is conducting operations to counteract its influence. Although there is widespread feeling in Iran against British and U.S. policies, CIA has influenced specific leaders, has tended to curb Tudeh’s outward manifestations, and has had some effect in making distribution of Tudeh literature more hazardous. The general line of attack has been to discredit Tudeh in terms of nationalism and religion and above all to blast open the front groups. CIA has also conducted operations against Soviet influence and has met with some success in influencing the government not to renew the Soviet fisheries concessions. CIA has also engaged in operations against the Nationalist leader, Kashani, and has tried to provoke him into taking a stand for or against the Tudeh Party.

If a more moderate government, oriented toward the West, should come into power, its greatest opposition would be that of the Tudeh Party. In Mr. Waller’s opinion, if CIA had the cooperation of such a moderate government, CIA could help restrict the Tudeh Party, at least temporarily, and help neutralize the influence of Kashani.

Mr. Waller reported that legalization of the Tudeh Party and significant increase in the power of the Tudeh would impair CIA’s capabilities, since it would be more difficult to get anti-Tudeh groups to speak out. Such a situation would probably not, however, interfere with CIA’s dealings with potential resistance groups. Under the condition of actual Tudeh control, Mr. Waller said that CIA’s political and psychological warfare capabilities would be severely curtailed, but that CIA could encourage and assist tribal groups to maintain control within their zones, Mr. Waller reported that CIA has stockpiled enough arms and demolition material to support a 10,000-man guerrilla organization for six months and has entered into a tentative agreement with [Page 455]certain tribal elements in the south of Iran to establish safe haven bases. [1½ lines not declassified]

Mr. Waller said that cartoons are especially effective in Iran because of the high illiteracy rate, and showed samples of cartoons in use at present.

Mr. Horsey asked what can be done to temper nationalism. Mr. Waller reported that CIA has tried to encourage moderate elements within the National Front and to oppose extremists, but so far this has consisted more in opposing than encouraging.

In answer to Mr. Berry’s question, Mr. Waller said that CIA is both attacking Kashani and trying to smoke him out on the Tudeh Party issue. In answer to [name not declassified] question about the British psychological warfare effort in Iran, Mr. Waller said that the British are in a stay-behind status already and have been very active with anti-Government tribal groups in Southern Iran. Mr. Waller also said that, should the Tudeh Party come into power, the U.S. would probably be allied with the British and reported that CIA had had some discussions with the British about this possibility.

Mr. Berry gave his opinion that the Iranian armed forces would be a big element in time of trouble and said that he hoped CIA is keeping close liaison with them. Mr. Waller agreed on their importance but stated that dealing with elements of the armed forces is difficult because of frequent re-shuffling of army commands. Colonel Black asked about a recent article in the New York Times reporting the presence of a Soviet agent in Iran. Mr. Waller said that CIA has had reports of Soviet agents among the Azerbaijani Kurds, but that CIA had been able to make little or no progress in counteracting Soviet influence in this very remote country. In answer to Mr. Berry’s question about the loyalty of the armed forces, Mr. Waller gave his opinion that it was doubtful if they would fire on their own people in the event of urban demonstrations or riots. Mr. Waller also expressed his view that one of the main troubles with Iranian security forces is lack of adequate riot control techniques.

Mr. Waller said that CIA’s operations could probably be more effective if more specific policy direction could be given as far as possible in advance. Colonel Black asked about the reason for the Soviet reaction to the Iranian cancellation of fishing rights, and Mr. Waller said it was possibly designed to contrast with the British reaction to the oil concession cancellation.

[name not declassified] raised the question of operational direction in case of gradual Tudeh infiltration of government agencies in which it is difficult to ascertain when the Tudeh has actually gained the upper hand. Mr. Berry agreed there is dangerous possibility that we would be too late in realizing Tudeh domination, and [name not declassified] asked [Page 456]if the Iranian Army is capable of proper assessment of Tudeh infiltration. Mr. Waller indicated in the negative, but said that the U.S. and British were more successful in so doing.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Iran.]

[name not declassified]
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO–IMS Files, Job 80–01795R, Box 9, Folder 6, Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) History 01Mar52–11Mar52. Top Secret; Security Information; Eyes Only. Drafted by [text not declassified] Prepared by [name not declassified] on March 3.