272. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Jones) to Acting Secretary of State Dillon0


  • Soviet Propaganda Pressures on Iran


A recent telegram from Geneva (Tab B)1 indicates that Secretary General Hammarskjold has not yet been successful in his attempts to bring about a cessation of Soviet propaganda broadcasts to and pressure on Iran. In addition, there are credible signs that the morale of the Shah and his advisers has been adversely affected. It is certainly true that the [Page 646] Shah believes that the United States and the United Kingdom have not supported Iran fully in the face of this hostile Soviet campaign.

According to recent statements by Khrushchev and now Gromyko, the Soviets are only willing to consider a cessation of their pressure if Iran is willing to pay a price. Such a price presumably would have to be some dramatic gesture such as conclusion of a non-aggression treaty with the USSR, abrogation of the U.S.-Iranian bilateral agreement, or some similar action seriously detrimental to Iran’s relations with the West and its Baghdad Pact allies. There is the clear danger that the Shah might be persuaded by the faint-hearted and the neutralists around him that he should take one of these steps to relieve the immediate pressure on his position in Iran. Were he so persuaded, he would not only endanger seriously his country’s relations with the West and his Baghdad Pact allies, but he would also undermine his position in the country in the long term.

In this situation we have two objectives: to induce the Soviets to cease and desist, which Mr. Hammarskjold has so far unsuccessfully tried to do, and/or to shore up the Shah’s morale sufficiently to resist the pressures towards accommodation being exerted on him.

Of the various means available to us, i.e. action in the Baghdad Pact, further bilateral discussions with the USSR, military and economic assistance, additional statements by U.S. officials and the UN forum, a bilateral approach to Gromyko in Geneva might be the most useful next step. While formal UN consideration of the problem would not necessarily resolve the issue, it would bolster materially the morale of the Shah and his supporters at this particular juncture. At the same time action in the UN might risk serious criticism that the United States is “spoiling” the atmosphere for a summit meeting. Before deciding finally on such action, therefore, we believe that we should recommend to the Secretary that he and Selwyn Lloyd discuss whether they might raise the issue with Gromyko in Geneva. The Secretary had previously been requested by the Iranian Foreign Minister, during the earlier Geneva meeting, to raise this matter with Gromyko, but he avoided such a step while Hammarskjold was actively pursuing the matter with the USSR. Such an approach to Gromyko might have the maximum impact if it came initially from the British who are widely believed to have a keen interest in a summit conference since it would suggest to the Soviets that Soviet pressure on Iran might itself jeopardize such a meeting. We have in mind that the Secretary and/or Selwyn Lloyd would tell Gromyko that we regret that Hammarskjold’s efforts have not been successful and that if the situation does not improve, we would have to consider sympathetically any Iranian request that the matter be discussed in the UN. We believe Iran has a good case that can be well documented.

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Whether or not it is decided by the Secretary to go to Gromyko, we could derive some advantage with the Shah by telling him that the Secretary and Mr. Lloyd are discussing in Geneva what might be done to assist Iran in this situation. We would propose, therefore, if the Secretary approves, to inform the Shah of what the U.S. and U.K. are doing to assist Iran in resolving this matter. Even should the Secretary and Mr. Lloyd decide against an approach to Gromyko, we would still have the subsequent avenue of recourse to the UN open to us. You will recall that we have already undertaken to consider with the Iranians possible recourse to the UN should Hammarskjold’s mission fail (Tab C).2


That you approve the attached telegram to Geneva (Tab A).3

  1. Source: Department of State, NEA/GTI Files: Lot 61 D 407, USSR-Iran Propaganda War. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Mouser and Marcy; cleared by Wilcox, Kohler, and Director of the Office of Soviet Affairs Richard M. Service; and cleared in draft with Deputy Director of the Office of United Nations Political Affairs Joseph J. Sisco, and Officer-in-Charge of UK and Ireland Affairs James W. Swihart.
  2. Reference is to Secto 335, July 16. Secretary Herter was in Geneva for the reconvened Foreign Ministers Meeting on Germany. (Ibid., Central Files, 661.88/7–1659)
  3. Reference is to telegram 129 to Tehran, July 10. (Department of State, Central Files, 661.88/7–1569)
  4. Sent as Tosec 393 to Geneva, July 25, not printed. (Ibid., 661.88/7–1659) In response Secretary Herter replied in Secto 406 from Geneva, July 28, that he had found little evidence of Soviet desire for a summit meeting. Furthermore, Herter had avoided bilateral conversations with Gromyko at the Geneva Conference and believed he should continue to do so. Herter concluded that the approach to the Soviet Union should be made in the United Nations. Ibid., 661.88/7–2859)