20. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran 1

834. For Ambassador. UCLA officials are receiving increasing number reports to effect many hundreds Iranian students and sympathizers are planning massive, well-organized and well-financed demonstrations on occasion Shah’s participation commencement ceremony. They emphasize their primary concern is with outsiders, not with Iranian UCLA students, whom they believe can be controlled.

UCLA now not only has grave doubts that ceremonies can take place with dignity, but is concerned over possible danger to Shah’s [Page 37] physical safety. Ceremonies would take place in open field under extremely unfavorable conditions re control of crowds or individuals.

Dept is considering approach to Iranian Embassy to effect that since our analysis indicates danger of assassination attempt at Los Angeles ceremony cannot be completely eliminated, we feel Shah should accept cancellation this ceremony and confine his activities to East Coast, including ceremony at American University, where we can be sure of capacity to protect HIM from any possible assassination attempt by misguided student.

Do not mention foregoing to Iranian officials. Please telegraph your comments, including your estimate official Iranian reactions to such approach, along with any suggestions you may have as to modifications in approach, should we decide to make it. We would plan to base our approach solely on physical safety factor, even though our principal concern is actually over humiliation Shah might suffer in course of really large, well-organized demonstrations. We are aware that Shah’s enemies would exploit cancellation as victory.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 7 IRAN. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Drafted by Bowling, cleared by Jernegan, and approved by Talbot.
  2. In telegram 1022 from Tehran, May 13, Holmes responded that the Shah would understand if demonstrations took place despite the efforts of authorities to control them, but would not understand an effort to dissuade him from coming to Los Angeles in the absence of documented and reasoned cause. He pointed out that an April 27 letter from President Kerr had expressed the hope that a small but vocal group of dissident students would not deter the Shah from coming to California. Thus, if the situation had changed since April 27, this would have to be explained with full particulars. (Ibid.)