145. Memorandum From Clinton E. Granger and Robert B. Oakley of the National Security Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • Defense Request for Study of Relations with Iran

A memorandum from Secretary Schlesinger to the President (Tab A)2 requests that a study be initiated within the NSC system to review US defense and security interests in Iran. Schlesinger recommends that the study address policy options, looking five and ten years ahead. He identifies the following as issues of particular concern:3

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—Iran’s limited ability to absorb vast inflows of military equipment, the related requirement for large numbers of DoD personnel or for US citizens on a contract basis in country, and the likelihood that an enlarged presence will result in anti-US sentiment

—regional suspicions of the Shah’s long-range purpose

—Iran’s inclination to promote foreign policy interests by transferring US arms supplied under MAP and FMS to third countries without our approval

—increasing divergence of the positions of the US and Iran on important issues (oil, economics, US presence in the Persian Gulf, arms supplies)

—Congressional and public concern with our Persian Gulf arms policy

Schlesinger’s letter also notes that we are facing similar, although somewhat less acute, problems with Saudi Arabia.

We think a study along the general lines suggested by Secretary Schlesinger is a good idea. We also believe it is imperative that any study we undertake be regional in nature, both because the problems are regional and because we would not wish to single out Iran as an object of special concern. Events are moving swiftly in the Persian Gulf and we have not had a comprehensive review of our policy toward the region since NSSM 66 in 1969.4 In addition to the specific problems mentioned by Secretary Schlesinger, such a study would reassess (in light of these problems and other considerations—i.e. growing importance of Persian Gulf oil) our interests in the area now and in the future, and how those interests can best be served by our security relationship with Persian Gulf nations, particularly Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

It seems to us that we should aim at January for the Persian Gulf Study. The current review of Israeli arms requests, and the related issue of Arab arms, will have a bearing on this study, as will evolving Congressional attitudes on Middle East arms policy. OPEC oil-price policy and Congressional reaction thereto will also be a factor. We should have a clearer reading on these factors by the end of the year, and NSSM 223 on our general arms transfer policy will also be completed by then.

If you concur that such a study would be a worthwhile follow-on to the pending Israeli NSSM, we will submit a draft NSSM to you in January.

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That you sign the memorandum at Tab I5 requesting the President’s approval of a memorandum from you to Secretary Schlesinger agreeing to the idea of a study of our defense and security interests in the Persian Gulf, to begin in January 1977.6

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files, Box 42, NSSM 238 (3). Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Printed as Document 142.
  3. On another copy of this memorandum, Kissinger wrote of these issues: “All these prejudge the answers. Of course story will leak.” (Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files, Box 26, Meeting Materials—NSC Ad Hoc Technical Panels—Log Number 7506250, Proposed Study U.S. Defense Relationship with Iran)
  4. NSSM 66, “Policy Toward the Persian Gulf,” July 12, 1969. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXIV, Middle East Region and Arabian Peninsula, 1969–1972; Jordan, September 1970, Documents 73 and 82.
  5. Attached but not printed.
  6. In an October 10 memorandum to Schlesinger, Kissinger wrote that “the President agrees with your recommendation,” but “would prefer, however, that the review be extended as well to our defense and security policies in the entire Gulf region,” and that such a study “can most usefully be undertaken after the major decisions have been made concerning our overall policy on arms transfers generally (NSSM 223) and our revised defense relationship with Israel.” (Ford Library, NSC Institutional Files, Box 26, Meeting Materials—NSC Ad Hoc Technical Panels—Log Number 7506250, Proposed Study U.S. Defense Relationship with Iran)