15. Memorandum From Harold H. Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Message from Ambassador Helms and Reply

In the back-channel message at Tab B2 Ambassador Helms raises the point below:

1. He noted that the Shah raised with Secretary Rush as he had with Helms earlier his concern that Sadat might resume hostilities against Israel. He hinted at the possibility of Iran’s becoming involved in some sort of Arab-Israeli mediation. [Comment: It may be desirable to keep the Shah’s offer in the background, but it is difficult to conceive anything that he could do except as a supplement to movement in a more direct channel.]

2. The Shah indicated his desire to see prompt agreement reached in the oil negotiations. He seems not to want to drive crude oil prices too high because that would be reflected in the cost of goods that he must buy from the US, Europe and Japan. [Comment: These negotiations for the time being seem to be moving slowly along the track, and there is no call at present for USG involvement.]

3. Helms says he recommended to Secretary Rush that US diplomatic representation in the Persian Gulf be up-graded. [Comment: The present situation is that our ambassador in Kuwait is accredited to Oman, the Union of Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar. Upgrading our representation down the Gulf is surely one of the issues that will be dealt with in the study you have just requested on the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf. I have mentioned that in your reply to Helms.]

I see no other action that needs to be taken on the basis of this telegram.

Recommendation: That you approve the reply to Ambassador Helms at Tab A.3

[Page 49]

Tab A4


  • The White House, Washington
  • Henry A. Kissinger


  • Tehran
  • Ambassador Helms/Eyes Only

1. Thank you for Tehran 069.

2. We, of course, would welcome any advice the Iranians could give to Sadat against initiating hostilities against Israel. Sadat talks as if a resumption of fighting would lead to diplomatic progress. I see no reason to believe that another round of fighting would be any more likely to produce negotiations than the 1967 and 1970 rounds. What we need now at a minimum is the basis for making a credible argument that Sadat wants peace and is prepared to negotiate realistically.

3. On the other hand, I find it difficult at this stage to see exactly what concrete role the Shah could play in Arab-Israeli negotiations. He might have a role at some later point in providing supplementary encouragement or pressure. But it seems to me that there will have to be some specific framework established by others before an Iranian role could emerge.

4. I am inclined to agree with you about the need to upgrade our diplomatic representation in the Persian Gulf. We have just sent out a NSSM asking for a study of the Peninsula and the Gulf area.5 This issue will certainly be addressed.

5. Again, thank you for your continuing reports and suggestions.

Warmest regards,

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 603, Country Files—Middle East, Iran, Vol. V, May 1973–December 1973. Top Secret; Outside System. Sent for action. All brackets are in the original.
  2. Tab B, not attached, is backchannel message 69 from Helms to Kissinger, April 25. (Ibid., Box 425, Backchannel Files, 1973, Middle East/Africa)
  3. Kissinger initialed his approval of the recommendation.
  4. Sent as backchannel message WH31209 to Helms, May 16.
  5. NSSM 181, “U.S. Policy in the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf,” May 10. See Document 22.