398. Telegram From the President’s Special Assistant (Richards) to the Department of State1
2612. From Richards. Had two hour audience with Shah March 26 at Babol, accompanied by Mission members and by Stevens Embassy, GregoryUSOM, Seitz ARMISH–MAAG and Matlock2 Embassy of [and] Country Team Tehran.
Audience marked by good feeling with no discordant note. (However, believe his remarks largely repetition of previous presentations.) None of previous day’s expressions of disappointment were reiterated by Shah. Shah made number of informed comments on own position and other countries ME. He welcomed US interest in ME, which had never been imperialistic. Reviewed occasions beginning with Schuster Mission when US had been helpful to Iran. Noted fidelity US and UK to Second World War agreements with Iran, which Soviets had not respected. Delighted that US had at last committed itself to aid ME in defense its freedom and liberty.
Iran, Shah said, wished to be prepared for defense against any threat from any quarter, especially international Communism. Only hope of strength adequate this purpose was for US to provide necessary military equipment.
Iran had abandoned mistaken traditional policy of neutrality and joined propaganda. During visit Moscow Shah had told Soviets he had adopted policy defense because of their own actions. He now held duty to make policy successful. This was not easy matter in view Iran border with powerful aggressive Soviet Union. In addition to Soviet propaganda, Iran had also to face various forms subversive actions. Was necessary to inspire confidence of people by undertaking economic development to raise living standards and other steps to assure social justice. He hoped foreign capital would be interested in Iran. Had great hopes of Qom oil field’s development which would require foreign capital investment. Wanted pipeline to Turkey. Thought project would cost $400 million but if twenty million tons oil moved per annum, investment would be amortized in two years. Oil revenues including those from Qom would soon provide enough money for Iran’s economic development.[Page 927]
Reverting to military, Shah said he was worried by military weakness Iran, which was only country whose defense discussed in Baghdad Pact military committee. Iran was pivot of defense ME and obvious target potential attack. Defeat of Iran would outflank Turkey, yield Mesopotamian plain and Persian Gulf and jeopardize Indian subcontinent. Iran needed strength to hold line pending receipt US help and effect action US strategic Air against Soviet targets. He had decided on northern Elburz defense, which approved by Radford, but Iran was still weak link which invited attack. Needed much more military aid to achieve deterrent and defensive strength which would establish desirable “balance of power” with Turkey for Baghdad Pact area defense. Knew that US would win war if it came and was gratified by that for sake of world, but as Iranian he had to consider danger to Iran and what good to Iran if Soviets lost war but Iran destroyed in process. Iranian soldiers basically good material as Americans knew. US should help create with them an effective force. Would help deter war and if it still came, would reduce cost of US in money and blood.
In response to Shah’s remarks, I recognized general validity of what Shah had said. Indicated that assurances American Doctrine and US joining military committee gave at least as much security assurances as if US adhered to Baghdad Pact. Shah interrupted to say “even more” to which I agreed. I continued with explanations purposes and intent American Doctrine generally.
When US joined Baghdad Pact military committee, military planning would become easier and better on a regional basis. I said we would indeed win if war came but our object was to avoid war as we did not wish to make the world into a desert with nuclear weapons. Iran would, of course, pay a price for such a war but US would pay also through hostile nuclear attacks on American industrial cites. By making our intent clear to the Soviets we reduced the chances of a world war.
I stated that for our deterrent strength to be effective we had to conserve economic strength backing our military strength and had to conserve resources as we were already spread thin on world-wide basis. Warned Shah congressional attitude for future would give greater emphasis to loans in preference to grants. Gave Shah résumé decisions yesterday re aid to Iran (see aide-mémoire submitted separately).3 Shah expressed faith in American intentions and said he knew help would come in event war but as soldier he knew also that it would take time. He detailed practical difficulties from a military point of view bringing in US forces quickly. Deprecated possibility any British help. He saw nothing but American strategic Air as an immediate possibility of help. Reiterated arguments for Iranian troop strength, [Page 928]stressed need for Iranian tactical Air Force together with ground defense of airfields. Regarded ground to air guided missiles as the requirement in view of inability small tactical force to perform military mission and defend airfield too. Made strong plea for help in building additional airfields in Iran.
Shah did not press for any additional aid decision by Richards Mission but asked that later consideration his views and needs be given in formulation coming regular programs.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 120.1580/3–2757. Secret. Repeated to Tehran, Kabul, Baghdad, London, Paris, Cairo, Amman, Jidda, Ankara, Tel Aviv, Damascus, Aden, Beirut, Athens, Khartoum, Rabat, Tunis, Tripoli, Addis Ababa, and New Delhi.↩
- Clifford C. Matlock, First Secretary and Counselor of Political Affairs of the Embassy in Tehran; also special assistant to the Ambassador.↩