118. Minutes of the Secretary of State’s Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Iran.]

Secretary Kissinger: Somebody said that the Shah wants us out of Bahrain.

Mr. Atherton: I was going to mention that also. We came to an agreement with the Bahrain Government some weeks ago on a renewal of the agreement. They have not yet ratified this; they are waffling on it.

They are concerned about the parliament. The parliament has a sense of parliament resolution pending which would in effect call for the removal. It wouldn’t be binding, because the government is trying to decide whether to go ahead and conclude before or after the parliament considers this item.

They’re just going to go on dragging their feet for some time.

Now, the Shah—

Secretary Kissinger: Can we use it in the meantime?

Mr. Atherton: Yes. We’re using it on the basis of the unsigned agreement. We’re using it without an agreement.

Secretary Kissinger: Then why do we care?

Mr. Atherton: Well, for the moment it’s not a problem. It’s a problem on the horizon. The Foreign Minister said he can even envisage a resolution by the parliament by next year which would call for [Page 341]the removal and would be binding on the government. His final words were that we could stay there until 1976, but after that he’s not so sure.

Now, this coincides with an interview the Shah gave before he left Tehran,2 in which he said that he felt there should be no major power presence in the Gulf. And he alluded specifically to the Mideast force as an example. But he put it in the context of it being conditional upon the Iraqis seeing that the Soviets didn’t have any facilities.

So this is not really a new line, and the Shah said this before—while telling us privately that he wants us to stay as long as the Soviets are around. What’s new really is timing—saying it at the moment just before coming here.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, but his intention is clear. His calculation must be that the Soviets must have a larger presence there than we; and he’d rather have us both get out than have them alone.

Mr. Atherton: That’s right. His goal is to see no outside force present, but this is not a request that we get out. But still the fact that he now said this publicly, I think psychologically is not good. And, in a way, I think it reflects the kind of state of mind in which he’s coming here next week.

I think we can focus on this because he’s coming with a lot of questions—some gnawing doubts about our determination and ability to play a role he wants us to play.

Secretary Kissinger: Why would he have this idea?

Mr. Atherton: Well, it’s been growing for some time. It’s been growing for some time—the hostile attitude of the Congress towards him is worrying him. I think we’re going to have a lot of work to do to send him away from this trip satisfied.

Secretary Kissinger: We have to face the fact that words are no longer enough. Our currency is talk. We can say six times a week that we maintain all commitments. Who seriously believes in the case of a North—what is more likely in the case of a North Korean attack—declarations of intent or talk? All the rest of it is nonsense. We can say it a hundred times. And if a war starts in Korea, in my judgment, it is more likely that the Congress will pass an evacuation resolution and permit us to put additional forces in and that we will face in Korea exactly the same situation as we did in Viet-Nam.

And other countries aren’t stupid, and I think that’s what we ought to focus on.

Mr. Sisco: Well, I can see this generalized concern on the part of the Shah, but I don’t see any basis for his complaint. I don’t think anything [Page 342]has been held up in any serious way with the Shah. He’s watching the trends. As far as the Bahrainis—I don’t know whether Roy would agree or not—this government has always been very, very nervous about this situation; and they have constantly referred to “How are the Arab-Israeli negotiations going?” I feel that the suspicion of the negotiations may very well have contributed to this further reserve on their part.

Secretary Kissinger: The Shah’s concern isn’t that we hold up the equipment. If he looks at the Congressional limit on arms sales, he doesn’t have to worry about what happens in any one year but what happens in two or three years. But what he’s worried about is our conducting an active foreign policy.

If I were the Shah, I would worry that maybe Pakistan is going to be dismembered. Who’s going to stop the Pakistanis?

Let’s put an aircraft carrier now in the Indian Ocean and see what happens. Would you consider it unlikely that there will be another attack on Pakistan? I don’t—not this year.

Mr. Atherton: No. In the course of—

Secretary Kissinger: The next three years.

Mr. Atherton: I’ve always felt that India has not given up the goal of seeing Pakistan further dismembered.

Secretary Kissinger: Within three years they’ll try to reduce it to the status of Nepal—just keep the Punjab, or something like that.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Iran.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Lot 78D433, Box 3, Secretary’s Staff Meetings. Secret. Kissinger presided over the meeting, which was attended by all the principal and regional officers of the Department or their designated alternates. A table of contents and list of attendees are not printed.
  2. Reference is presumably to the Shah’s comments to the London Observer. See Document 123.