4. Memorandum From the Plans Branch, Near East and Africa Division, Directorate of Plans to the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence (Jackson)1
U.S.-Iranian relations have been deteriorating for some time with the result that there has been a closer orientation of Iran with the Soviet [Union], and a number of reports bear witness to this fact. Ambassador Grady in January was sufficiently exercised to propose a quiet decrease in number of U.S. women and children in Tehran and to state that the [Page 18]situation was sufficiently serious to be brought to the attention of the President before it was too late. With the assassination of Razmara, deterioration of the situation receives new impetus.
As you know, ONE is presently working on N.I.E. 6, “Iran’s Position in the East-West Conflict.”2 However, due to new conditions arising from the death of Razmara and the general sensitivity of Iran, a Special Estimate or Intelligence Memorandum might be warranted in order to cover CIA until the final production of N.I.E. 6. Reasons for such an estimate might include:
(1) Hussein Ala, the new Premier, although pro-American, is reportedly not a very strong or forceful character and might not successfully cope with pro-Communist elements.
(2) Infiltration of agents may well increase, and with the further implementation of the Russian-Iranian Trade Treaty a large number of Russian “specialists” may enter the country.
(3) With Razmara’s death, the Communist Tudeh Party (presently outlawed) may have a new resurgence especially in the south where there have been numerous economic difficulties.
(4) Again, with the death of Razmara, the National Front and other parties probably will promote nationalization of oil with greater determination. If oil is nationalized, there is a presumption that the Iranians will turn to the Soviet [Union] instead of UK–US for technical advice. This would give the Russians a great opportunity to obtain a modicum of control in relation to Iranian oil and a further chance of obtaining northern oil concessions.
(5) There is also the ever-present Kurdish problem. The Kurdish group in the Caucasus under Mullah Mustafa Barzani are pro-Communist, and Barzani has already asked permission to pass (with a number of his followers) through Iran to Iraq. This permission, to date, has been denied as long as these Kurdish elements wish to carry arms. If, however, Barzani, and his followers are allowed to pass through Iran they would then be able to get in touch with Kurdish elements in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey. Many of these Kurds are long-standing dissidents, and trouble might ensue.
(6) The inherent weakness of the Iranian government has probably been increased by the death of Razmara. Increased infiltration of Russian agents, heated debate over such things as nationalization of oil and growing activity of dissident elements including the Tudeh Party, could lead to severe internal disorders and even possibly to the overthrow of the Iranian government. In such a case Russia might seize the opportunity to intervene overtly under the guise of maintaining peace [Page 19]in Iran specifically and the Near East in general. The chance of such an overt invasion of Iran would not appear probable but can not be completely overlooked.