287. Editorial Note

At the 436th Meeting of the National Security Council, March 10, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles briefed the Council on Iran as follows:

“Mr. Dulles said he would cover certain situations which had developed during the absence of the President in South America. Growing strains had appeared in relations between Iran and the USSR. [4-½ lines of source text not declassified] The USSR continues to insist that Iran must ban all military bases, while the Shah is willing to go no further than giving assurances that he will not permit long or medium-range missile bases to be established on Iranian territory. The campaign of Soviet pressure against Iran is being intensified, with Russian radio propaganda [Page 670] being designed to play on the nerves of the Shah by emphasizing plots against his life. Mr. Dulles felt there might be some grounds for believing plots against the Shah did in fact exist. Bakhtiar had been making contingency plans for the situation which would exist in the event the Shah lost control. Soviet and Tudeh agents were trying to establish contacts with Iranian dissidents. Savak, the Iranian security organization, had recently arrested a number of Iranian officers for subversion and had placed Bloc nationals in Iran under surveillance. Mr. Dulles doubted that Soviet subversive efforts alone would be sufficient to overthrow the Shah, but was concerned about evidences of disaffection in the Army. In any case, the situation in Iran continued to be critical. The President felt it was wrong to worry constantly about the symptoms in Iran instead of dealing with the basic causes of the Iranian situation. He wondered why an Iranian Army officer would tend toward Communism. Our policies were apparently not effective enough in properly orienting the Iranian people. Nehru had told him that if the Shah proposed an adequate land reform program, the situation in Iran would be materially improved. The Shah has now proposed a program of land reform and nevertheless we still have doubts about the stability of the government. Either the Iranian or the U.S. Government is not doing something it should be doing. Mr. Dulles said the Iranians were very lax about following through on the plans they made; moreover, there was a great deal of corruption in circles close to the Shah. Mr. Dillon added that it took a long time for the effects of a land reform program to be felt. The President said the Shah evidently intended to complete land reform within two years. In any case we always appeared to be trying to devise emergency measures to remedy a critical situation. Mr. Dulles believed one of the difficulties in Iran was the old clique of office holders surrounding the Shah, a clique into which young and able officials could not break. The President said the situation in Iran sounded rather hopeless.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)