6. Draft Statement of Policy Proposed by the National Security Council1
1. It continues to be in the security interest of the United States that Iran not fall under communist domination, either as a result of invasion or internal subversion.
a. Iran is located in a key strategic position, the occupation of which would enable an enemy to threaten the nearby oil producing areas, Turkey, the countries on the Eastern Mediterranean, Pakistan, and India. Iranian oil resources are of great importance to the economies of the United Kingdom and Western European countries. Loss of these resources would affect adversely those economies in peacetime.
b. Communist domination of Iran would damage United States prestige and seriously weaken, if not destroy, the will to resist in nearby countries, except Turkey.
c. Communist domination of Iran could only be viewed as one in a series of military, political and economic developments the consequences of which would threaten the security interests of the United States.[Page 24]
For these reasons, the United States should continue its basic policy to take all feasible steps to assure that Iran does not fall victim to communist control.
2. 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 should be continued. The vulnerability of Iran, particularly the northern part, and the paucity of the military resources available make it desirable that the United States and the United Kingdom jointly give early consideration to measures designed to strengthen the general area in order to give Iran support in depth.
3. Present conditions in Iran as well as Soviet threats to that country require that the United States further strengthen its programs in Iran in support of its basic policy. Accordingly, the United States should:
a. Continue to extend political support and military aid and accelerate economic aid as much as possible in order to (1) increase internal security in Iran, (2) strengthen the Iranian Government and people in their resistance to communist pressures, (3) bring them into closer association with the free world, and (4) demonstrate the intention of the United States to assist the Iranians to remain independent.
b. Press the United Kingdom to effect an early and equitable settlement of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company dispute.
4. In the event an Iranian Government, despite the foregoing United States measures, should take steps leading toward communist control in Iran and capitulation to the USSR, the United States should be prepared to undertake special political operations to reverse the trend and to effect Iranian alignment with the free world.
5. The United States should now make plans and preparations in conjunction with the United Kingdom to counter possible communist subversion in Iran and to increase support of the pro-Western Iranian Government in the event of either a communist seizure of power in one or more of the provinces or a communist seizure of the central government. Such plans and preparations should envisage political and economic support, including:
a. Correlated political action by the United States and the United Kingdom.
b. Conduct of special political operations by the United States and the United Kingdom.
c. Efforts to induce nearby countries such as Turkey and Pakistan to assist the legal Iranian Government.
d. As desirable, consultation with selected countries to attain support for the United States position.[Page 25]
e. Exposure of USSR responsibility and consideration of reference of the situation to the United Nations.
6. In the event of overt 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:2
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 settlement and the conditions upon which the United States would, in concert with other members of the United Nations, accept such a settlement.
(2) Obtaining 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 best contributing to the implementation of United States national war plans.3[Page 26]
- Source: National Archives, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Policy Papers, Box 194, NSC–107 (Section 2). Top Secret. NSC 107 was circulated to the members of the NSC on March 14 under cover of a letter from James S. Lay, Jr., Executive Secretary of the NSC. In his cover letter, Lay indicated that the enclosed draft statement of policy, based on an initial draft by the Department of State, was to be discussed by the National Security Council at its meeting on March 21. NSC 107 and its attached Staff Study are printed with redactions in Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 11–23 ( Documents 6 and 7).↩
- At the March 21 meeting, the NSC adopted NSC 107, although it noted the “following views of the Joint Secretaries regarding NSC 107, as read by the Secretary of Defense: ‘The Joint Secretaries recommend that NSC 107 be rejected in its entirety. The heart of NSC 107 is paragraphs 5 and 6; what to do in case of internal subversion in Iran and what to do in case of a Soviet attack, respectively. Neither paragraph faces up to the question. They are safe innocuous statements of generalities which do not indicate anything except watchful waiting. A policy document for Iran must bluntly face the facts. If we cannot do anything we should say so. If we can take concrete steps in either contingency we should specifically so state. Until a complete study as to specific manner and means by which we can protect the interests of the West in Iran has been completed we should not attempt to establish a national policy with respect to that country, particularly in view of current developments.’” (National Archives, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Official Minutes 1947–1961, Box 12, 87th Meeting)↩
- In a memorandum from Vice Admiral A.C. Davis, Director of the Joint Staff, to the Secretary of Defense, March 19, the JCS echoed many of the reservations expressed by the Joint Secretaries. Nevertheless, Davis wrote that the JCS, “from the military point of view, perceive no objection to the use of the statement of policy on Iran in NSC 107 as an interim working guide.” (Ibid., Policy Papers, Box 194, NSC–107 (Section 2)) President Truman approved NSC 107 on March 24 and directed the Department of State to submit monthly progress reports. (Memorandum from Lay to the NSC, March 26; ibid., Official Minutes 1947–1961, Box 12, 87th Meeting)↩