273. Telegram From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State0

136. Ben-Gurion told me in confidence following lunch at residence August 8 that Abba Eban plans to leave for Iran week August 10 and requested I talk Eban Weizmann Institute today.1

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Prime Minister indicated he had had important secret talk Major General Bakhtiar of Iran about July 27.

Bakhtiar whom Ben-Gurion described as “No. 2 man Iran who had ear of Shah” made following points:

Iran more or less forced to conclude recent bi-lateral pact US;2 that Iran now felt “let down” by US as Turkey and Pakistan received substantial arms while Iran was not with result Iranian 200,000 Roman army’s equipment now becoming obsolete.
Raised question Iranian-Soviet relations and specifically queried Ben-Gurion “should they (Iran) turn to Russia?”

Prime Minister said he stated to Bakhtiar Iran had no alternative but to stay closely allied West and that Iran clearly protected by US.

Bakhtiar commented on latter point and reportedly said “we are proud, independent and we want to be able to defend ourselves.”

Further, Ben-Gurion made point to Bakhtiar that Iran should continue raise standard of living its people to which Bakhtiar replied this is “also Shah’s view”.

I indicated that we knew Iran somewhat concerned Soviet broadcasts but that USG believed that broadcasts might go on whatever Iranian policy; that as regards arms this not a new question and involved absorptive and technical capacity of Iran to make use military equipment and economic aid. Added that I not familiar details but happy report Bakhtiar’s comments to Department and sure they would be carefully considered.

Ben-Gurion then said in view “important” to strengthen Iran; that US “appeared” to be doing more for Nasser than for Iran which clear friend; and that US as he understood it had done and was doing more militarily for Turkey and Pakistan than for Iran.

Prime Minister emphasized his belief that if more could be done militarily strengthen Iran and if Iran felt psychologically more clearly supported by US then this feeling and evidence this support might in turn encourage Afghanistan to “turn away more from Russia, more toward West”.

Finally Ben-Gurion said several Israeli “cultural” and agricultural experts had been to Iran at latter’s request and one Israeli now working consultant Iranian Ministry of Agriculture.

In strict confidence Ben-Gurion indicated GOI policy, details of which not clearly known “our people” based in part strengthening Israeli relations with Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia, Sudan and “maybe later” with Iraq.

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Comment: Efforts to strengthen Israel’s relations with Iran in particular and expression of concern over security of Iran and future course of Iran vis-à-vis USSR are significant in view of Israel’s dependence on Iran as source of oil for Eilat pipeline for which contract recently signed with Rothschild group. Ben-Gurion’s comments also indicative his clear belief importance US support for Iran to security and independence entire area.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 033.84A88/8–959. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Tehran and London.
  2. On July 24, the Shah announced that Iran had extended Israel de facto recognition, but emphasized that such recognition had been in existence since 1949 notwithstanding the fact that the Iranian envoy had been recalled from Tel Aviv in 1951. The Shah added that there was never any question of extending de jure recognition to Israel. The Shah’s announcement occasioned sharp criticism in the Arab world, especially from President Nasser, and the United Arab Republic’s representative in Tehran was declared persona non grata by the Iranian Government.
  3. See Document 267.