S/P–NSC files, lot 62 D 1, NSC 107 Series
Statement of Policy Proposed by the
National Security Council
It is of critical importance to the United States that Iran remain an independent and sovereign nation firmly aligned with [Page 72] 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:
- Threaten the security of the entire Middle Eastern area and also Pakistan and India.
- 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.
- Increase the Soviet Union’s capability of threatening important United States-United Kingdom lines of communication.
- Damage United States prestige in nearby countries and, with the exception of Turkey, seriously weaken if not destroy their will to resist.
- 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.2
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.
- 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:
- Continue to extend political support, primarily to the Shah as the only present3 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 help4 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.5
- 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.
- Continue … to assist in aligning the Iranian Government with the free world and promoting internal security in Iran.
- Encourage whenever opportune the adoption by the Iranian Government of necessary financial, judicial and administrative reforms.
- 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.
- 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, might6 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 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 the United States would have to be determined in the light of the world situation at the time.
- 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,7 increasing United States influence in the Middle East, and increasing United States strength.
- 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 [Page 75] 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:
Correlated political action and military discussions8 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.
. . . . . . .
- Coordinated United States–United Kingdom support for pro-Western Iranian elements.
- Efforts to induce nearby countries, particularly Turkey, to assist the legal Iranian Government.
- As desirable, consultation with selected countries to attain support for the United States position.
- The perfection of plans concerning the handling of the matter by the United Nations when that becomes necessary.
- 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.
- 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 immiment.
Accordingly, the United States should then immediately:
- Seek by political measures to localize the action, to stop
the aggression, to restore the status
quo, and to ensure the unity of the [Page 76] free world if war nevertheless
follows. These measures should include direct diplomatic
action and resort to the United Nations with the objectives
- 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.
- Obtaining the agreement of the United Nations authorizing member nations to take appropriate action in the name of the United Nations to assist Iran.
- Consider the possibility of a direct approach to the highest Soviet leaders.
- Place itself in the best possible position to meet the increased threat of global war.
- Consult with selected allies to perfect coordination of plans.9
- 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.
- 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.
Attached to the source text were a cover sheet and a note, dated June 27, by Acting Executive Secretary Gleason stating that the statement of policy had been adopted by the Council at its 95th meeting on June 27 and was being submitted to President Truman for approval. The statement of policy, the cover sheet, and the note by Gleason were circulated as NSC 107/2.
The statement of policy in NSC 107/2 is a revision of the draft statement in NSC 107/1, dated June 6, prepared by the NSC Staff pursuant to NSC Action No. 454–f, which called for the review of NSC 107 (see Document 7) no later than July 1. The NSC Staff also prepared a Staff Study that was circulated to the Council as an annex to NSC 107/1, dated June 20. Copies of NSC 107/1 and the annex to NSC 107/1 are in S/P–NSC files, lot 62 D 1, NSC 107 Series.
On June 21 the Executive Secretary of the NSC, at the request of the Secretary of Defense, circulated to the Council a memorandum by the JCS to the Secretary of Defense, dated June 19, in which the JCS requested revisions to NSC 107/1. The Executive Secretary on June 21 also circulated to the Council the revisions to NSC 107/1 recommended by the NSC Senior Staff after it had reviewed the revisions recommended by the JCS. These revisions are indicated in footnotes below.
At its 95th meeting on June 27, with President Truman presiding, the NSC discussed the situation in Iran and adopted the statement of policy contained in NSC 107/1, subject to the revisions recommended by the Senior NSC Staff except for the proposed new paragraph numbered 8, an amendment to paragraph 2–a, and a new paragraph offered by the Secretary of State at the meeting. The NSC agreed with the suggestion of the Secretary of Defense at the meeting, that, if the statement of policy in NSC 107/1 as adopted by the Council were approved by the President, it should be kept under continuing review. (NSC Action No. 500)
On June 28, the Executive Secretary of the NSC informed the Council that the President had that day approved the statement of policy contained in NSC 107/2 and had directed its implementation by all appropriate executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government under the coordination of the Secretary of State. (Memorandum by Lay, June 28; S/P–NSC files, lot 62 D 1, NSC 107 Series)↩
In NSC 107/1 this paragraph is lettered “f” and another paragraph lettered “e” reads as follows:
“e. Create doubts in the free world as to the willingness of the United States to help them remain free.”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the NSC Senior Staff recommended the deletion of paragraph 1-e of NSC 107/1.↩
- The word “present” was not in the text of NSC 107/1. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that the words “at present” be inserted after the words “political support,” in the first line of paragraph 2-a and that the words “as the only source of continuity of leadership” be deleted from the second line. The NSC Senior Staff recommended instead that the word “present” be inserted between “only” and “source”.↩
- At its meeting on June 27 the National Security Council substituted the words “whenever such assistance will help” for the words “in order,” which had appeared in NSC 107/1.↩
The final sentence of paragraph 2-a in NSC 107/1 reads:
“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 actively solicit British support and assistance.”
The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that the words “and actively solicit British support and assistance” be deleted from the final sentence of paragraph 2-a. The NSC Senior Staff recommended instead that the word “actively” be deleted and the words “for them” be added at the end of the sentence. The JCS also recommended that “throughout the duration of the present uncertainties of the situation in Iran the implementation of the policies set forth in subparagraph 2-a of NSC 107/1 be kept under continuing review by the National Security Council.”↩
- In NSC 107/1 the word “would” appeared at this point in the text instead of the word “might”. The Joint Chiefs of staff recommended that the word “would” be changed to “might” and the words “tend to” be inserted between “would” and “produce” in “would produce a chaotic situation in Iran”. The NSC Senior Staff recommended that the word “might” be substituted for “would”.↩
- In NSC 107/1 the last part of this sentence following the word “capabilities” reads “and increasing United States strength.” Both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the NSC Senior Staff recommended that the phrase “increasing United States influence in the Middle East,” be inserted in the sentence after the word “capabilities”.↩
In NSC 107/1 the word “planning” appeared at this point instead of the word “discussions.” The JCS recommended that paragraph 5-a read as follows:
“a. Correlated political action, and military discussions by the United States and the United Kingdom. The United States should be prepared in the event of a seizure or a clearly imminent seizure of power by Iranian Communists to give the British full political support and to consider whether or not military support would be desirable or feasible.”
The NSC Senior Staff recommended that the word “planning” be changed to “discussions,” but did not accept the deletions and additions proposed by the JCS on the ground that the remainder of the paragraph “incorporates several saving clauses clearly indicating that the question has not been prejudged as to whether the United States should furnish the British military support in the contingencies envisaged by the paragraph.”↩
The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that a new subparagraph 7-d be added to read as follows:
“d. Examine what steps, political or military, might be taken to secure or deny Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrein.”
They recommended that subparagraphs 7-d and e in NSC 107/1 then be relettered 7-e and f, respectively. The NSC Senior Staff did not accept the recommendation, but compared the language of the new paragraph 8 adopted at the National Security Council meeting on June 27 at the suggestion of the Secretary of State.↩