299. Draft Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Nash) to the Chairman of the Planning Board of the National Security Council (Cutler)1


  • Course of Action with Respect to Iran

1. Recent events in Iran have at least temporarily halted the dangerous drift toward eventual communist control which was taking place under Mossadegh. However, the situation is far from stable and it is recommended that the U.S. initiate prompt action to insure the permanency of the Shah–Zahedi regime. Otherwise, we can expect increasing trouble from the Tudeh party which, you will recall, recently assembled over 100,000 supporters for a public demonstration in Tehran alone.

2. Doubtless Ambassador Henderson, based on his intimate knowledge of the situation, will submit proposals for U.S. action. Without wishing to anticipate or prejudge his recommendations, the following suggestions are forwarded as a possible course of action [Page 717] which would help stabilize the situation in Iran and insure the establishment of a firm, pro-Western government:

a. Make a clear-cut NSC decision to support the Shah–Zahedi regime.

b. Avoid any discussions of the oil controversy until initiated by the Iranians. Play down any publicity on this issue, either here and in England.

c. Have the President express publically his congratulations to the Shah for successfully re-establishing in Iran true democratic processes; i.e., rule of law, public security, individual freedom and freedom of assembly.

d. This Presidential message would also state that if the Shah wishes, we are prepared to dispatch to Iran a high Cabinet official, such as Mr. Stassen, to demonstrate our active interest in the success of the Zahedi Government’s program and to initiate a new U.S. program of economic and technical assistance.

e. Follow up this visit by expediting funds, equipment and technical assistance to Iran, in order that Zahedi can start implementing his eight-point program immediately. In particular, the U.S. could help his Government with its programs for the mechanization of agriculture, free medical treatment and the roadbuilding program.2

f. The British Government should be informed in advance of these steps, but should not be permitted to inhibit vigorous unilateral action on our part to exploit the current fortunate turn of events.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 330, Records of the Department of Defense, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Office of Military Assistance, Project Decimal Files, 1953, Box 35, 091.452.1 Iran. Secret; Security Information. Attached is a handwritten note from Black to General Stewart, August 24, that reads: “This was prepared as a matter of urgency in accordance with Mr. Nash’s instructions to draft a letter which would take advantage of the recent Iranian developments. Col. Bonesteel would like your views on the attached before the Planning Board meeting at 2:30 PM today.”
  2. A final sentence, “Toward this end, the Department of Defense is prepared to contribute road construction equipment and engineers upon request,” has been crossed out by hand.