20. Letter From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Jones) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Bundy)0

Dear Mr. Bundy: The Department has received your letter to the Under Secretary, Number I–18109/61, dated February 23, 1961,1 in which you raised certain questions of interest to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in connection with possible internal disturbances in Iran.

The views of the Department of State on these questions are given below. They must be regarded as tentative and as subject to possible modification in the course of a broad review of our policies. We feel that United States responses to the situations envisaged by the Joint Chiefs must be within the framework of the Joint Congressional Resolution on the Middle East.2

What would be the United States reaction to a request by the Shah for help against a sizeable insurrection in the Iranian Army?

The United States should not contemplate military action unless there should be clear evidence that the insurrection represented a form of aggression by the forces of international communism; this would appear highly unlikely in terms of the present political situation in Iran.

In case the Government of Iran lost control of rioting mobs, should United States forces be dispatched to protect American lives?

Any United States decision should be within the context of approved Emergency and Evacuation Plans which are available to the Department of Defense; it is difficult to envisage any large-scale threat to American lives in terms of the present political situation in Iran.

What course of action should be taken by the United States if anarchy should ensue upon the sudden removal of the Shah from the scene?

Anarchy, as representing the absence of any political authority, is difficult to envisage; should it occur, the response of the United States should be through the United Nations.

What faction or personality does the United States prefer to succeed the Shah in case of his sudden death, abdication or overthrow?

The United States would prefer to see the stabilizing institution of the Monarchy preserved through the operation of a Regency Council on behalf of the minor heir-apparent; ideally, such a Regency Council should include one of the Shah’s older half-brothers, a representative of the moderate Mosadeqist elements, a professional military leader, and a representative of the more progressive traditionalist elements of society.

The Department of State will be in touch with the Department of Defense in the current re-examination of our policy toward Iran, which is now in its initial stages.

Sincerely yours,

G. Lewis Jones3
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.88/2–2361. Top Secret. Drafted by Bowling on March 8.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., 611.88/2–2361, and Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OSD Files: FRC 64 A 2382, Iran 000.1—1961)
  3. Reference is to the Middle East Resolution, P.L. 85–7, approved March 9, 1957; 71 Stat. 5. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1957, pp. 829–831.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.