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368. Project Outline Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1

1. Objective:

To establish an effective political action/psychological warfare program in Iran with which to oppose Tudeh/Communists, and to build a stable, progressive Iranian government.

2. Origin and Policy Guidance:

a. Origin.

This is a continuing project which was originated in 1951, receiving approval from DADPC on 11 August 1951.2 The project resulted from CIA responsibility under NSC 10/2 (superseded by NSC 5412), NSC 107 (superseded by NSC 136), and conforms to NSC 5402, approved 2 January 1954 which authorizes covert action to direct Iranian nationalist feeling into constructive channels thereby strengthening the ability and desire of the Iranian people to resist Communist pressure.3

The project also conforms to the Letter of Instructions to the Chief of Mission, Tehran, Iran, approved 4 April 1954.4

b. The project originated in the field.

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3. Situation:

This project was originally approved at a time when Iran was facing a severe economic crisis, was plagued by pressure from foreign nations, and was evidencing to an increasing degree alarming symptoms of insecurity and instability.

At this time CIA was presented with the opportunity of undertaking a large-scale propaganda warfare/political action program, [2½ lines not declassified]. From the approval date of the project on 11 August 1951 until August 1953, the major portion of the PP work in Iran was carried out [1½ lines not declassified] in the following general fields: a) subsidizing publication media; b) producing and distributing propaganda material; and c) influencing religious leaders, Majlis deputies, Senators, and other government officials. Their primary target was the Tudeh Party, the Communist party of Iran.

Although the immediacy of the threat of a communist takeover in Iran has been reduced since the inception of this project, the task of defeating Communism within Iran is by no means accomplished. The membership of the Tudeh Party may have declined slightly in the past year, and the party is no longer free to operate openly and without restraint. However, the hard core of the party remains intact, and despite its losses the Tudeh Party must still be considered the best organized and most effective communist force in the Near East. Tudeh control of the Iranian government would greatly strengthen communist capabilities in neighboring countries and threaten the position of the western powers throughout the area.

In contrast with the opportunities of 1951, CIA is now in a much better strategic position, has gained the services of many additional agents and assets, and most important, has established a close relationship with the Shah and the present government. The fall of the Mossadeq government in August 1953 and the installation of the Zahedi regime created a situation containing greatly broadened potentialities for effective action against the Tudeh Party and in the interest of political stability. The Shah and the Prime Minister, cognizant of the need for assistance in their effort to capitalize on the present situation, have become willing collaborators with CIA.

[1 paragraph (10 lines) not declassified]

In addition to support for the Department of Press and Propaganda the [5 lines not declassified].

[1 paragraph (13 lines) not declassified]

The problem facing the Iranian government and CIA is the suppression of the Tudeh Party and the establishment of a strong, popular, progressive government, one that is in harmony with the throne, which serves as the strongest factor of stability in the political scene.

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4. Proposal:

It is proposed that CIA contract for the services of, and subsidize the activities of individuals hereinafter described, and others who may be recruited in the future, to support a political action/Psychological warfare program in Iran with the following objectives:

a. to establish and maintain a stable, progressive government;

b. [1 line not declassified];

c. [2 lines not declassified];

d. to formulate and give active guidance to an intellectual movement designed to promote progressive nationalism at all levels and in all significant facets of the Iranian society; and

e. to combat Tudehism/Communism.

5. [1 line not declassified]

a. [1 line not declassified]

(1) [1 paragraph (6 lines) not declassified]

(2) [1 paragraph (17 lines) not declassified]

(3) [1 paragraph (5 lines) not declassified]

6. Coordination:

a. Relation to other projects.

This project is viewed as the parent project from which sub-projects will be drawn for the sub-tasks listed in 5 a.

b. Extent of coordination.

Coordination within the Division and among the Senior Staffs concerned will be accomplished. There is no necessity for coordination with other agencies or with extra-government organizations.

7. Budget Data:

Total CIA funds required for Fiscal Year 1955: [dollar amount not declassified]. This amount was requested in the NEA Division Operational Program for FY 1955.

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files, Job 78–01521R, Box 5, Folder 14, [cryptonym not declassified]. Secret. The covering sheet indicates that the project was reviewed by Chief of the Near East and Africa Division [name not declassified] on June 28. Waller reviewed the outline as well.
  2. See Document 41.
  3. For NSC 10/2, June 18, 1948, see Foreign Relations, 1945–1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, pp. 713–715 (Document 293). For NSC 5412, see ibid., 1950–1955, The Intelligence Community, 1950–1955, pp. 475–478 (Document 171). NSC 107/2 is Document 35; NSC 136/1 is Document 147; NSC 5402 is Document 355.
  4. Not found.