35. Note by the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Security Council (Gleason)1
THE POSITION OF THE UNITED STATES
WITH RESPECT TO IRAN
- A. NSC 107; NSC 107/1 and Annex to NSC 107/12
- B. NSC Actions Nos. 500, 473 and 4543
- C. Progress Reports by the Under Secretary of State on NSC 107, dated May 2 and May 31, 19514
- D. Two memos for NSC from Executive Secretary, same subject, dated June 21, 19515
- E. NIE–6; SE–66
The National Security Council, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of Defense Mobilization, at the 95th Council meeting with the President presiding (NSC Action No. 500),7 considered the draft statement of policy on Iran contained in NSC 107/1 together with the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the recommendations of the Senior NSC Staff with respect thereto contained in the reference memoranda of June 21, 1951; and adopted NSC 107/1 subject to the revisions recommended by the Senior NSC Staff except for their proposed paragraph 8, and to an amendment to paragraph 2–a and a new paragraph 8 proposed by the Secretary of State at the meeting. NSC 107/1, as amended and adopted, is enclosed herewith.[Page 107]
Accordingly, the National Security Council, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Director of Defense Mobilization submit the enclosed statement of policy for consideration by the President with the recommendation that he approve it and direct its implementation by all appropriate executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government under the coordination of the Secretary of State.
S. Everett Gleason
STATEMENT OF POLICY
proposed by the
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
1. It is of critical importance to the United States that Iran remain an independent and sovereign nation firmly aligned with the free world. Because of its key strategic position, its petroleum resources, its vulnerability to intervention or armed attack by the USSR, and its vulnerability to political subversion, Iran must be regarded as a continuing objective of Soviet expansion. The loss of Iran by default or by Soviet intervention would:
a. Threaten the security of the entire Middle Eastern area and also Pakistan and India.
b. Deny the free world access to Iranian oil and threaten the loss of Middle Eastern oil. These developments would seriously affect Western economic and military interests in peace or in war in view of the great dependence of Western Europe on Iranian oil, particularly the refinery at Abadan.
c. Increase the Soviet Union’s capability of threatening important United States–United Kingdom lines of communication.
d. Damage United States prestige in nearby countries and, with the exception of Turkey, seriously weaken if not destroy their will to resist.
e. Be one in a series of military, political, and economic developments, the consequences of which would seriously endanger the security interests of the United States.
For these reasons the United States should continue its basic policy of taking all feasible steps to make sure that Iran does not fall victim to communist control.[Page 108]
2. The immediate situation in Iran is such that, if not remedied, the loss of Iran to the free world is a distinct possibility through an internal communist uprising, possibly growing out of the present indigenous fanaticism or through communist capture of the nationalist movement. It is important that there be a government in power in Iran on the side of the free world, capable of maintaining internal order and determined to resist Soviet aggression. The United States should therefore:
a. Continue to extend political support, primarily to the Shah as the only present source of continuity of leadership, and where consistent with Iran’s ability to absorb it, accelerate and expand military, economic and technical assistance by the United States Government whenever such assistance will help to (1) restore stability and increase internal security, (2) strengthen the leadership of the Shah and through him the central government, (3) demonstrate to the Iranian people the intention of the United States to assist in preserving Iranian independence, and (4) strengthen the ability and desire of the Iranian people to resist communist subversion and pressure. The United States should, unless it would be detrimental to United States policy in a particular instance, coordinate these programs closely with the United Kingdom and solicit British support and assistance for them.
b. Bring its influence to bear in an effort to effect an early settlement of the oil controversy between Iran and the United Kingdom, making clear both our recognition of the rights of sovereign states to control their natural resources and the importance we attach to international contractual relationships.
c. Continue special political measures designed to assist in aligning the Iranian Government with the free world and promoting internal security in Iran.
d. Encourage whenever opportune the adoption by the Iranian Government of necessary financial, judicial and administrative reforms.
e. Encourage the Government of Turkey and other governments whose influence might be effective to adopt a more active general policy in Iran with a view to acting as a moderating influence and to creating closer ties between Iran and stronger free nations of the area.
3. Although assurances have been received, the United States should continue to urge the United Kingdom to avoid the use of military force in settling the oil controversy. The entry of British troops into Iran without the consent of the Iranian Government would place British forces in opposition to the military forces of Iran, might split the free world, would produce a chaotic situation in Iran, and might cause the Iranian Government to turn to the Soviet Union for help. However, should the lives of British subjects in Iran be placed in immediate jeopardy by mob violence, the United States would not oppose the entry of [Page 109] British forces into the danger area for the sole purpose of evacuating British nationals on the clear understanding that this would be undertaken only as a last resort and that the British forces so introduced would be withdrawn immediately after the evacuation was completed. In the event of a British decision to use force against the advice of the United States, the situation would be so critical that the position of [Page 110] the United States would have to be determined in the light of the world situation at the time.
4. Because of United States commitments in other areas, the current understanding with the United Kingdom that it is responsible for the initiative in military support of Iran in the event of communist aggression should be continued but should be kept under review in light of the importance of Middle Eastern oil, the situation in Iran, British capabilities, increasing United States influence in the Middle East, and increasing United States strength.
5. The United States should be prepared in conjunction with the United Kingdom to counter possible communist subversion in Iran and, in event of either an attempted or an actual communist seizure of power in one or more of the Provinces or in Tehran, to increase support of the legal Iranian Government. Such plans and preparations should envisage joint support to the legal Iranian Government including:
a. Correlated political action and military discussions by the United States and the United Kingdom. The dispatch of British forces at the request of the legal Iranian Government to southern Iran should be supported in every practicable manner by the United States in the event of a seizure or a clearly imminent seizure of power by Iranian Communists. The United States should be prepared to give the British in this event full political support and to consider whether or not military support would be desirable or feasible.
b. The conduct of special political operations by the United States and the United Kingdom.
c. Coordinated United States–United Kingdom support for pro-Western Iranian elements.
d. Efforts to induce nearby countries, particularly Turkey, to assist the legal Iranian Government.
e. As desirable, consultation with selected countries to attain support for the United States position.
f. The perfection of plans concerning the handling of the matter by the United Nations when that becomes necessary.
6. In the event a communist government achieves such complete control of Iran that there is no legal Iranian Government to request Western assistance, and pending further study of this contingency by the United States and jointly with the United Kingdom, the position of the United States would have to be determined in the light of the situation at the time.
7. In the event of a Soviet attack by organized USSR military forces against Iran, the United States in common prudence would have to proceed on the assumption that global war is probably imminent. Accordingly, the United States should then immediately:
a. Seek by political measures to localize the action, to stop the aggression, to restore the status quo, and to ensure the unity of the free world if war nevertheless follows. These measures should include direct diplomatic action and resort to the United Nations with the objectives of:
(1) Making clear to the world United States preference for a peaceful solution and the conditions upon which the United States would, in concert with other members of the United Nations, accept such a settlement.
(2) Obtaining the agreement of the United Nations authorizing member nations to take appropriate action in the name of the United Nations to assist Iran.
b. Consider the possibility of a direct approach to the highest Soviet leaders.
c. Place itself in the best possible position to meet the increased threat of global war.
d. Consult with selected allies to perfect coordination of plans.
e. While minimizing United States military commitments in areas of little strategic significance, take action with reference to the aggression in this critical area to the extent and in the manner which would best contribute to the implementation of United States national war plans.
8. In view of the current situation in Iran, the United States should, individually and where appropriate jointly with the United Kingdom, examine what additional steps, political and military, might be taken to secure or deny Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrein.
- Source: National Archives, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Policy Papers, Box 194, NSC–107 (Section 3). Top Secret. The enclosed statement is printed in redacted form in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, pp. 71–76 (Document 32).↩
- NSC 107 is Document 6. NSC 107/1, dated June 6, and the annex to NSC 107/1, dated June 20, are not printed. (National Archives, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Policy Papers, Box 194, NSC–107 (Section 3))↩
- NSC Action Nos. 500, 473, and 454 are ibid., NSC Records of Action, Box 95, NSC Actions 407–598.↩
- Documents 21 and 31.↩
- Reference is to two memoranda to the National Security Council from Lay, dated June 21, that forwarded the recommendations of the JCS for revision of NSC 107/1 and then reported on the recommendation of the Senior NSC Staff that the suggested revisions of the JCS for NSC 107/1 be adopted by the NSC. (National Archives, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Official Minutes 1947–1961, Box 14, 95th Meeting)↩
- Documents 13 and 28.↩
- NSC Action No. 500, taken as a result of the 95th meeting of the NSC, is summarized here.↩