276. Memorandum From Secretary of State Herter to President Eisenhower0


  • The Khrushchev Visit: Soviet Pressures on Iran

The difficult situation in Iran which has confronted us due to Iranian uncertainties over the meaning of the Khrushchev visit and their dissatisfaction with the magnitude of our aid and our position regarding the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) has acquired a new urgency during the past few days. As you know, you told the Shah, in response to a recent letter from him,1 that you would raise the question [Page 653] of the Soviet propaganda campaign against Iran with Mr. Khrushchev if circumstances permitted.2

Starting with a meeting between Khrushchev, Gromyko and the Iranian Ambassador in Moscow on September 2, 1959,3 the Soviets have now embarked on what appears to be an all-out campaign to win Iran over to neutralism in its foreign relations, holding out among the inducements the possible cessation of the Soviet propaganda campaign and among the threats, possible occupation of Iran under a distorted Soviet interpretation of a 1921 treaty.4 There are many in Iran who favor neutralism and the Shah may well be susceptible to these pressures. I think in the circumstances that it is even more important than before that you find an opportunity to discuss the Soviet posture towards Iran with Mr. Khrushchev during the Camp David talks.

Since we desire a cessation of the hostile Soviet propaganda campaign, but not at the expense of a significant Iranian concession to the Soviets, I think the most useful approach would be to stress to Mr. Khrushchev that his country’s hostile propaganda campaign against a weak and small neighbor is not calculated to lessen world tensions and that it does not conform to his country’s frequent protestations that it does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. If he should allege that American bases are being established in Iran, you could tell him frankly that we have no such bases, we have not sought them, and that the Shah is on record as opposing the establishment of such bases. If we could tell the Iranians now that you will definitely raise this matter with Mr. Khrushchev, I think it would be most helpful.5

While I know that your plans for your visit to the USSR are still indefinite, I believe that it is increasingly important that a brief stop-over be made in Tehran. The Shah is deeply troubled over his country’s security position and your having a personal talk with him might do much to relieve his fears and uncertainties.

Christian A. Herter
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DullesHerter Series, September 1959. Secret. On the Department of State copy of this memorandum Mouser is the drafter and Henderson and Kohler concurred. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1471)
  2. See footnote 1, Document 274.
  3. See footnote 7, Document 274.
  4. The translated text of the telegram from the Iranian Ambassador in Moscow to Tehran, recounting the discussion between Ambassador Masud Ansari and Khrushchev, Gromyko, and the Chief of the Middle East Division of the Soviet Foreign Ministry is in telegram 531 from Tehran, September 14. (Department of State, Central Files, 661.88/9–1459)
  5. See footnote 4, Document 266.
  6. A note at this point on the source text indicates that the President approved the memorandum and Goodpaster notified the Department of State. Consequently in telegram 772 to Tehran, September 17, the Department of State agreed with the Embassy’s assessment that Khrushchev’s remarks on September 2 to Masud Ansari were an attempt to intimidate Iran on the eve of the CENTO meeting. The Department stated that Eisenhower would definitely make the proposed demarche on Iran to Khrushchev during his visit to the United States. (Ibid., 611.88/9–1459)