121. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Battle) to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)0
- Iran: Contingency Planning
Under the aegis of the Task Force on Iran, State and Defense have reviewed political and military contingency planning on possible United States actions to deter Soviet military action against Iran, as well as to meet other possible forms of Soviet pressure direct or indirect. The current status of military contingency plans is discussed in the attachment to this memorandum.
In reviewing possible and desirable United States courses of action in the event of heightened Soviet pressures against Iran, it was found that the United States was inhibited in both the military and the political spheres. It has been assumed that Soviet military attack on Iran means general war. There are therefore no plans for United States response to overt Soviet action on less than a general war level. Politically, deterrent actions have been circumscribed by the absence of a clear policy determination on several issues, including whether or not the United States would be willing to risk general war in order to defend Iran against Soviet military attack. If the United States is not, it must be determined whether the United States is willing to engage its prestige in a pretense that we are willing to go to general war, in the knowledge that if our bluff were to be called it might have disastrous results.
In an effort to cope with this situation, an informal joint State-Defense Working Group has been urgently preparing a study of those political and military deterrent actions which can be taken under present policies, and a parallel list of those actions which might prove feasible and desirable in the event of certain policy decisions being reached. It is anticipated that this study will be put in final form following the publication on October 5 of a Special National Intelligence Estimate on the [Page 285] Soviet threat to Iran.1 The Task Force will then be in a position to make concrete recommendations as to its disposition.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.88/10–461. Top Secret. Drafted by Marcy (NEA/GTI) and cleared by Colonel Price (JCS), Colonel Tucker (DOD/ISA), Talbot, and G/PM. This memorandum was written in response to a September 13 White House request; see Document 108. On October 5, Komer sent it to Bundy under cover of Document 122.↩
- SNIE 11–12–61, “The Soviet Threat to Iran and the CENTO Area,” October 5.↩
- Printed from a copy that indicates Manfull signed for Battle above Battle’s typed signature.↩
- For text, see Foreign Relations, 1958–1960, vol. XII, pp. 680–688.↩
- Document 51.↩