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170. Memorandum Prepared in the Directorate of Plans, Central Intelligence Agency1

CAPABILITIES OF CIA CLANDESTINE SERVICES IN IRAN

1. To Prevent Assumption of Power by Tudeh: CIA clandestine assets in Iran are far from sufficient in themselves to prevent a Tudeh assumption of power. Moreover, what CIA assets in Iran are depends upon the use to which they will be put. For example, there are propaganda groups which could operate effectively to support Mossadegh but which would refuse to work against him. The same applies to other groups as regards the Shah. Specifically, CIA capabilities in the clandestine field are as follows:

a. Mass propaganda means (press, etc.): CIA controls a network with numerous press, political, and clerical contacts which has proven itself capable of disseminating large-scale anti-Tudeh propaganda. The network can also give effective propaganda support to Prime Minister Mossadegh. It could not, however, engage in anti-Mossadegh propaganda nor could it support a prime minister not acceptable to Mossadegh. There is another group serving CIA which is capable of providing reasonably effective pro-Shah propaganda. It would not, however, support a pro-Shah candidate for the Prime Ministry unless the views of that individual were acceptable to this group. CIA pres[Page 473]ently has no group which would be effective in spreading anti-Mossadegh mass propaganda.

b. Poison pen, personal denunciations, rumor spreading, etc.: CIA has means of making fairly effective personal attacks against any political figure in Iran, including Mossadegh. It should be pointed out, however, that this sort of activity, unless it is in support of a general propaganda program, will be so ineffective as to make it not worth considering under any plan seeking immediate results.

c. Street riots, demonstrations, mobs, etc.: CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] has proven an ability to produce anti-Tudeh demonstrations. It can do so, however, only under favorable conditions, and provided that the Central Government does not strongly object. In the event the power of the Tudeh Party increases in Iran, demonstrations such as could be produced by this group would be easily dealt with by Tudeh counter-riots or Government suppression. [less than 1 line not declassified] could also provide effective pro-Mossadegh demonstrations and it could provide fairly effective pro-Shah demonstrations on the condition that these demonstrations not be in effect anti-Mossadegh demonstrations. CIA has no group in Iran which could effectively promote riots demonstrating against Mossadegh.

d. Tribal support: The only tribal leaders now cooperating with CIA are pro-Mossadegh and rather anti-Shah. These leaders are extremely powerful, however, and have the capability of gaining for an anti-Tudeh pro-Mossadegh government the support of the most important tribes in Iran.

e. Assisting Iranians at internal security: CIA has no official liaison with Iranian security authorities and has contact with them only by virtue of the fact that several leading members of these security services are paid agents of this organization. Should this government adopt a policy in support of Mossadegh, however, it would be possible for us to establish an official relationship with the Iranian police and security forces through which we could greatly strengthen their ability to deal with Tudeh agitators, Soviet agents, etc. It is the view of our Teheran station that the Iranian Security Services, with our help and encouragement, could take positive action against the Tudeh Party such as would render it incapable of launching a coup d’état under present conditions.

[1 paragraph (8 lines) not declassified]

2. To Provide Assistance in Iran After Tudeh Take-Over: Should a Tudeh government take over all or a part of Iran, CIA capabilities would be as follows:

a. The most powerful tribe in Iran is prepared to undertake in our behalf general resistance activities to harass the Tudeh government. Moreover, they are willing (and able, we feel) to enlist other tribes in the area. [3 lines not declassified]

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b. CIA has one group in Iran which, it is believed, may be fairly effective in carrying on morale sabotage within the country and stimulating various types of small scale resistance.

c. Through a number of stay-behind agents [less than 1 line not declassified] CIA will be able to provide intelligence coverage of Iran under a Tudeh government.

[5 paragraphs (25 lines) not declassified]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDI Files, Job 80R01443R, Box 1, Folder 7. Secret; Security Information. A handwritten note on a sheet of paper attached to the memorandum indicates that it was prepared for the March 5 NSC meeting, but was not used. Another copy of the memorandum indicates that it was prepared in the Iran Branch of the Directorate of Plans. (Ibid., DDO Files, Job 80–01701R, Box 3, Folder 12, Misc. Correspondence TPAJAX)