414. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

1164. Paris for Secretary.2 Shah received me this morning and seemed in cordial mood. After presenting message of sympathy from President on earthquake disaster3I then read to him, leaving copies, a memorandum based upon Department’s 1160, December 10.4 Shah listened attentively but made no particular comment. It was evident to me that he either did not understand full import of my statements or that he had discounted in advance possibility of budgetary aid as such. He did however state that he hoped we would examine all avenues with respect to supplying military soft goods. This question he touched on at several later points in our audience. When I told him that his own procurement system was such as to render it difficult for us to supply under PL 480 anything other than wheat and barley he replied that if that were the case his procurement system could easily be changed. He thanked me for the memorandum and said that of course it would have to be closely studied by the competent authorities of his government. I told him that during his absence the Embassy would discuss the problem with the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister and anybody else the Prime Minister should designate.

It was clear to me that as I have reported several times before the Shah’s primary interest is in increased military aid. He referred to previous conversations with me and General Seitz and to his message conveyed by Ardalan to Prime Minister Menderes of Turkey.5 He reiterated in strongest terms that he felt that he must have sufficient increased military aid in the form of military hardware and training to equip additional divisions so that Iran could take its place in the line with its neighbors. He noted that at Yugoslav request US military aid to that country had been suspended and inquired whether the savings [Page 960] from such action could not be re-directed towards Iran. In particular he felt that he should be supplied with Nikes and Honest Johns. He did not accept my explanation that the missiles supplied to Turkey were part of an over-all NATO plan but said he needed missiles for defense of the right flank of NATO and of Iran itself. He was perfectly prepared to send Iranians to US schools to learn their use and maintenance. He also complained that the US was not giving sufficient attention to his fleet and said that he had been deeply disappointed with the British who last summer first indicated they would sell him cheaply two destroyers and then reneged. He left implication that he felt that British reneging may have been US inspired. (See in this connection Embtel 1166)6

Shah said that he was prepared to accept Baghdad Pact military recommendations with respect to the size of his forces. (See Embtel 1165)7 He emphasized however that he must have satisfaction in the buildup of his forces because of his particularly exposed position with respect to the Soviet Union. Otherwise he had no choice but to reevaluate his position with respect to the Baghdad Pact.

Shah said he delighted General Taylor would visit Iran prior to rather than after BP Council meeting.

Shah concluded substance of interview with a statement that he would be grateful for an indication at the earliest possible moment of the extent to which we could help him in his prospective budget deficit by the supply of military soft goods including not only food but particularly boots and surplus uniforms or cloth.

Meeting ended in pleasant atmosphere with Shah joking about poor performance of Soviet dancers at command performance last night.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 888.10/12–1557. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Baghdad, London, Ankara, Karachi, and Paris.
  2. Dulles was in Paris for the North Atlantic Council Ministerial meetings, December 16–19.
  3. In the Hamedan-Kermanshah area, December 13–15.
  4. Supra.
  5. The Embassy in Tehran described this message in telegram 1156 from Tehran, December 13, as follows:

    Menderes will undoubtedly take up with Secretary Shah’s oral message to him delivered by Foreign Minister Ardalan at recent Ankara meeting to effect that US does not pay due attention to Iranian views that military aid to Iran has been neglected and that Iranian situation is becoming precarious both from point of view military preparedness and domestic politics. Ardalan further quoted Shah as stating that in event continued failure US supply military assistance ‘we will be compelled to effect a phased-appraisal of our policy’.” (Department of State, Central Files, 888,10/12–1357)

  6. Dated December 15; see footnote 2, infra. (Department of State, Central Files, 746D.022/12–1557)
  7. In telegram 1165, December 15, the Embassy reported the Shah had stated that a Baghdad Pact working paper that envisioned Iran’s land forces at 16 full-strength divisions, 5 skeleton divisions, and a palace guard brigade, was a realistic estimate of the forces needed by Iran to carry out its commitments to the Baghdad Pact. (Ibid., 780.5/ 12–1357)