266. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Rountree) to Secretary of State Dulles0


  • Irano-Soviet Negotiations and Our Proposed Bilateral Agreement with Iran


Since my memorandum to you of February 2, 1959 (Tab A),1 at which time it appeared that Iran would break off negotiations with the Soviets, there have been developments of a mixed character. For a few days, it was very difficult for our Ambassador in Tehran to ascertain [Page 636] what was going on since the Shah was sick and incommunicado, the Prime Minister had taken to his bed, and still later the Foreign Minister also became ill. During this period, in a speech (Tab B)2 before the Iranian Senate, the Foreign Minister said Iran would continue to honor its Baghdad Pact obligations. In addition, the Prime Minister indicated to a member of the American press that Iran would sign “soon” the “controversial” bilateral defense agreement with the U.S. Meanwhile, the Russian delegation has remained in Tehran.

On February 7, Ambassador Wailes and British Ambassador Harrison were summoned by the Shah and told that he was prepared to sign the bilateral agreement, but he would also sign an agreement with the Soviets if they accepted his terms (Tab C).3 On the latter point, he said that if Iran were not to do so, he would be faced with an internal political problem since the proposed non-aggression treaty was so favorable to Iran. These terms be described as follows:

Neither signatory would join an aggressive coalition directed against the other;
Each signatory would respect the territorial integrity of the other, including land, air and sea areas;
Neither signatory would resort to aggression, direct or indirect, against the other;
Nothing in the treaty would override existing obligations of either signatory, or future obligations which might be undertaken pursuant to the UN Charter;
The treaty would be subject to arbitration; and
The treaty would run for 30 years.

In this same discussion, the Shah said that the Soviets might accept a protocol to the Treaty of 19214 which would cancel Articles 5 and 6 of that treaty. He provided no details as to the contents of such a protocol. He asked for our comments by Monday, February 9.

In commenting (Tab D)5 on the protocol proposal, Ambassador Wailes said that in his opinion this would be preferable to a non-aggression treaty. He added that if the Department agreed that a protocol of this nature could be controlled as regards reactions in the U.S. and elsewhere, we should probably sign our bilateral with Iran despite the possible conclusion of a protocol with the Soviet Union and that we should so inform the Shah.

[Page 637]

On February 8, in an instruction (Tab E) to Tehran,6 we reviewed the Irano-Soviet treaties of 1921 and 19277 and instructed Ambassador Wailes to speak to the Shah as follows:

That the interests of Free World collective security organizations would best be served if Iran could avoid signing either a nonaggression treaty or protocol;
That if the Shah is determined that he must sign something with the Russians, we would not be in a position to say definitely that a protocol to the 1921 treaty would be better than a non-aggression treaty until we had an opportunity to study the proposed contents.
That it we found that the provisions of a non-aggression treaty or protocol were not inconsistent with our bilateral, would not undermine regional collective security, and would not adversely affect our present MAAG arrangements or comparable assistance in the future, we would be prepared to sign the bilateral, taking into account the timing of the signing with the Soviet Union;
That the Shah should consult on an urgent basis with his Baghdad Pact allies; and that Turkey and Pakistan are being informed of our views.

Ambassador Wailes was authorized to act as he deemed appropriate with U.K. Ambassador Harrison in carrying out these instructions.

We have had no reaction to these instructions. We have had, however, a subsequent cable (Tab F) from Tehran8 indicating the Russians are now becoming restive and that the Iranian press reports the negotiations with the Soviets have been broken off. Our Embassy has no confirmation of this.


That we wait for the Shah’s reactions to our latest instruction to Ambassador Wailes (Tab D) before taking any further action with respect to the Irano-Soviet negotiations or the bilateral.

  1. Source: Department of State, NEA/GTI Files: Lot 61 D 407, Office Memoranda 1959. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Mouser and Owen Jones.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., Central Files, 611.88/2–259)
  3. Telegram 1472 from Tehran, February 4, not printed. (Ibid., 780.5/2–459)
  4. Telegram 1478 from Tehran, February 7, not printed. (Ibid., 788.5/2–759)
  5. The Soviet Union and Persia signed a Treaties of Friendship February 21, 1921; for text, see Leonard Shapiro, Soviet Treaties Series, 1917–1927, p. 93.
  6. Telegram 1500, February 8, not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 661.88/2–859)
  7. Telegram 2027 to Tehran February 8, not printed. (Ibid.)
  8. The Treaty of Guarantee and Neutrality, signed on October 1, 1927; see Shapiro, Soviet Treaties Series, 1917–1927, pp. 340–341.
  9. Telegram 1501 from Tehran, February 8. (Department of State, Central Files, 788.5–MSP/2–859)