155. Briefing Memorandum From the Acting Country Director for Iranian Affairs (McClelland) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Handley)1


  • Talking Points for your meeting with CINCSTRIKE survey team making Persian Gulf defense study, August 29, 10:00 a.m.

During his 11-12 June 1968 visit,2 the Shah of Iran expressed concern to the President about the security of the Persian Gulf after the 1971 British withdrawal and asked the President what types of weapons the US would recommend that he obtain for the most effective defense of the Straits of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf area. The President agreed to look into the matter and later decided to offer the Shah a comprehensive military study of the problem. This offer was conveyed to the Shah by Ambassador Meyer on July 29 and was promptly accepted.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have drawn up the Terms of Reference for a military survey to be carried out by CINCSTRIKE (attached).3 A team of seven CINCSTRIKE officers headed by Major General Richmond, USAF, will call at the Department for a briefing a few hours before departure to Iran for an on-the-spot survey.

You may wish to make the following points for your briefing of the CINCSTRIKE team:

Background. This study is extremely sensitive and could have important implications not only for Iran but also for the other States of the Gulf area with whom we have good relations.
Our close diplomatic relations with Iran are to a large degree dependent on our military cooperation so that the study must take into account, in its conclusions, other than strictly military factors. Iran has reasonable but not unlimited financial resources, and its ability to absorb and maintain new complex equipment is limited. Our position continues to be to discourage large military expenditures that would adversely affect Iran’s economic development and not to recommend equipment that could not be effectively utilized.
Our policy in the Gulf is one of encouraging maximum cooperation among the Persian Gulf riparian States to work out the problems there. (We have been encouraged by the recently reported Median Line agreement.) The following factors must therefore be taken into account:
Iran’s armaments should not be so augmented as to frighten other riparian states and thus endanger prospects for Arab-Iranian cooperation. (By 1971, Iran will have 2 squadrons of F-4’s, a Radar Warning net, a destroyer, and several small craft in the area.)
Conclusions should take into consideration the international character of the Persian Gulf. c) We do not consider that there is an imminent threat to Iran in the Gulf (although the situation could deteriorate); nor do we believe that Iran could successfully meet a real Soviet threat by itself. What we believe is needed is a reasonable augmentation to the forces the GOI will have in the Gulf in 1971—if such an augmentation appears necessary—to improve Iranian defense of its “lifeline” and legitimate interests there.
Team Activities in Iran. We would hope that the team would be very guarded in any discussions with Iranian officials, give them no papers, and not indicate the directions in which their conclusions and recommendations tend. The team should take the attitude that it is going to Iran to learn and listen and will bring data back for technical evaluation before writing the report. (Para 7 of attachment covers the points of sensitivity of the study and prohibition of discussion with the Iranians.) Any problems or questions should be resolved with the Ambassador in cooperation with the Country Team (Para 6 of attachment).4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files, 1967-69, POL 33 PERSIAN GULF. Secret. Drafted by Acting Country Director for Iranian Affairs Walter M. McClelland.
  2. For documentation on the Shah’s visit, see Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, vol. XXII, Documents 290300.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. For a record of Deputy Assistant Secretary Handley’s briefing of the CINCSTRIKE Survey Team, see memorandum of conversation, August 29. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 33 PERSIAN GULF)