263. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran0

1944. Re immediately preceding telegram,1 following is text letter from President for immediate delivery to Shah.2 Message should be marked secret. Begin text. January 30, 1959.

Your Majesty,

The direct contact which Your Majesty and I have maintained over the past years on matters of mutual interest has always been a source of gratification to me. It is in the context of these friendly exchanges that I now address Your Majesty with respect to certain reports I have received. I have in mind information to the effect that your Government is considering the conclusion of a new treaty with the Soviet Union. While we have no confirmation of this and no knowledge of the precise terms [Page 628] of any proposed treaty, I believe that in view of the possible far-reaching implications of the matter I should let you know of my concern.

The most troublesome aspect of these reports is the implication, as we see it, for the future security of your country. It is my profound conviction that the principal objective of the Soviet Union in Iran remains unchanged and that that objective is inconsistent with Iran’s independence and integrity and with the security and stability of Your Majesty’s regime.

History demonstrates that the Soviet Union has repeatedly used non-aggression and “friendship” pacts to lull prospective victims and make them less alert to their danger. I refer, for example, to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Poland and the Nationalist Government of China. The Soviet Union has recently manipulated its economic relations with Finland and Yugoslavia in attempts to interfere in their internal affairs. In a major policy speech January 27, Premier Khrushchev spoke in support of the Communist Party in the United Arab Republic and that Party’s opposition to that Government’s policies, and sharply attacked the United Arab Republic as “reactionary” because the government has adopted certain domestic measures to combat the internal communist threat.

I realize, of course, that Your Majesty has had long experience in dealing with Soviet pressures and threats, as well as with Soviet blandishments. From our many past contacts I know that you are aware that a Soviet objective is to separate Iran from its friends and allies and, as one means of achieving this, to destroy the collective security arrangements among Iran, Turkey and Pakistan, supported by the United Kingdom and the United States. Indeed, during his recent visit here Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Mikoyan made no secret of this. I feel certain that the Soviet Union still desires to create a situation in which its subversive efforts in Iran will be given a much better chance of success than now exists because of the firm policies of, and precautions exercised by, Your Majesty and your Government. It would suit Soviet purposes to achieve a situation in which it appeared that Iran’s devotion to the principle of collective security and Iran’s cooperation with other members of the Free World had been weakened.

I know, of course, that Your Majesty must do what you consider to be in the best interests of your country. In making your decisions, you have always wisely considered possible internal and external reactions. Almost regardless of the actual terms of any new treaty with the Soviet Union, the impact on your friends would be unhappy.

I understand that you are gravely preoccupied with the increasing pressures that have been placed on Iran by the Soviet Union and other countries. I am entirely sympathetic with you in this concern. My letter to you of July 19, 1958, was clear evidence of my country’s desire to [Page 629] strengthen Iran’s security position. Indeed, the whole history of Iranian-American relations is marked by examples of United States determination to help Iran in the preservation of its independence and integrity. We are no less determined to continue this policy.

It is inevitable that differences should arise between the best of friends, and Iran and the United States are no exceptions. Such differences as we have had, however, have never related to fundamental principles or to basic objectives. One difference has arisen over our respective estimates of the size of the military program that should be maintained, and could be supported, without grave jeopardy to the Iranian economy. It has been reported to me that you are also concerned with the role of your country in the Baghdad Pact and that you have some concern regarding the content of the bilateral agreements being negotiated pursuant to the London Declaration of July 1958. I do not want to burden you with a recitation of our position in these matters, but I do want to emphasize that our continued strong determination to support Iran’s independence and integrity has not in the past depended upon, and need not in the future depend upon, any particular provision of formal agreements between us. The consistent role of the United States in supporting its friends, and particularly Iran, is clear.

I recall with great pleasure the frank and cordial conversations we had when you visited Washington last summer, and I also recall your impressive grasp of world affairs and your appreciation of the nature of the threat, not only to your country, but to all free nations. I am confident that you would not knowingly take a step which would imperil your country’s security and possibly weaken Iran’s relations with its proven friends, and that we can continue to work together to accomplish our common aims in a spirit of frankness and mutual confidence. Certainly you can be assured of our continuing support for Iran.

I have asked Ambassador Wailes to discuss this matter with Your Majesty and to transmit to me as soon as possible Your Majesty’s response.3

With warm personal regard,


Dwight D. Eisenhower. End text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 788.5–MSP/1–3059. Secret; Niact; Presidential Handling; Verbatim Text. Drafted by Rountree; cleared in draft with the Secretary and Dillon; and cleared by Henderson, Freers, and the President.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Dulles and Eisenhower discussed this letter at 12:27 p.m., January 30, as follows: ‘The Pres returned the call and the Sec said we may have a suggested letter from the Pres to the Shah to submit the latter part of the afternoon. The Pres said he will be around—send it over and they will get it to him. The Sec went into a discourse about the situation there. The Pres said it is disturbing. Instead of taking a firm position and doing things right he is engaging in blackmail. Neither the Pres nor the Sec will play that way.” (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, White House Telephone Conversations)
  4. In telegram 1431 from Tehran, January 31, Wailes reported that he handed the Shah this letter at 12:30 p.m., on January 31. As grateful as he was for U.S. aid, the Shah stated that it was not enough to permit Iran to advance in both the economic and military fields. Therefore he was negotiating a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union to give Iran additional security. The Shah suggested that the Soviet and Iranian negotiators were far apart. Wailes thought that the Shah would welcome a breakdown of the talks if he could not get a complete agreement on his original proposal. (Department of State, Central Files, 788.5–MSP/1–3159)