19. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran1

118336. Subj: Secretary’s Audience with Shah of Iran. Ref: Tehran 4063.2

Following is approved summary of Secretary’s June 9 meeting with Shah of Iran in Tehran:

[Page 58]

Summary: The Secretary, accompanied by Sisco and Helms, had hour and forty minutes audience with Shah on 9 June. Subjects covered ranged widely to include Shah’s recent trip, détente in Europe, oil and gas, Pakistan and the Subcontinent, Iran–Iraq relations, US arms to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Arab-Israeli impasse, and CENTO and its relationship to Indian Ocean. Greece was not discussed.

1. After photographs and normal amenities, Shah touched on his recent trip, devoting some minutes to Yugoslavia which he believes has the possibility of becoming an important European country in the next five years or so. He remarked on how “fit” Tito appeared and referred to his energy as “amazing” in man of his age. He and Secretary exchanged views about Romania and its leadership after which Shah mentioned that Bulgaria appears most tightly tied to Soviet Union of East Bloc countries he has visited. He noted Bulgaria’s development of a reasonably sophisticated electronics industry.

2. After touching on the necessity of family planning in Iran with a current population of 31 million, 50 percent of which is 15 years of age or under, Shah passed on to a discussion of détente in Europe between the United States and the Soviet Union. He noted that the risk the US runs is in being obliged to bring American troops home. The Secretary pointed out that the danger for the Soviets lay in opening up their society to the extent which was required by this détente. He also expressed his concerns about Congressional attitudes with respect to the maintenance of American troops in Western Europe. The Shah noted his opinion that once the United States gets out of Europe, it will never send military forces back there whereas the Soviets can always be back in Central and Western Europe within 24 hours. He then mentioned his talks with Heath and Brandt along the lines that peace in Europe is directly linked with the situation in the Middle East. As he puts it, if a regular supply of oil does not flow to Europe from the Middle East, Europe could collapse without firing a shot. He feels that both Heath and Brandt have got the message, i.e., that something must be done to bring about a resolution of the Arab-Israeli stalemate.

3. At this juncture the Secretary congratulated the Shah on the signing of the oil agreement on May 24.3 The Shah expressed his pleasure at the outcome and noted that Iran and West Germany are negotiating an arrangement whereby 500,000 barrels per day of Iranian refined products will be sold to Western Germany. He then spoke of Iran’s gas resources stating “Iran has twice as much gas as all of the Arab states combined.” Thought is being given to building a pipeline to the Turkish border and on to Iskenderun. A more ambitious project [Page 59] would have this gas pipeline continue on to Europe through Yugoslavia, Trieste and branching out from there to Western Europe. He noted certain conversations with Jamieson of Exxon about the possibility of piping Saudi Arabian gas to Iran and hitching it into such a pipeline. There is no doubt that the Shah is more pleased about his arrangements on gas in the new agreement with the consortium than on any other aspect. He is pushing the sale of LNG to Japan and the United States.

4. After expressing his well-known views about subversion in the Persian Gulf and the maintenance of Pakistan integrity, the Shah referred to a recent conversation between Marshal Grechko and the Iranian War Minister during which Grechko’s queries about Iran’s purchase of arms from the United States were greeted with the comment that one may only pursue a policy of peace from a position of strength. To this Marshal Grechko was obliged to agree. The Shah pointed out that the stronger his country becomes, the wiser his policies are permitted to be. He noted to the Secretary that he told Kosygin that Iran could “crush Iraq in a few hours,” a fact of life which kept Iraq from adventures against Iran. He feels that the only thing which keeps Iraq from shelling the Abadan refinery or other depredations is the knowledge of what Iran could do in retaliation. He alluded to a point which he had covered in greater detail in an earlier conversation with the Ambassador, that is, Iran can afford arms purchases on the scale envisaged, because it is spending as much money as makes sense on domestic development. As an example, the Shah pointed out that if he were to take money from the military to build hospitals, he could not find or train the doctors and nurses to man the hospitals. He said that there are 1200 Iranian doctors presently in West Germany who have been trained there and who like the bright lights and blond girls. He feels that they will gradually come back to Iran, but there is no way of forcing them at the moment. In addition, there are 4,000 Iranian nurses in New York City alone, and he points out there is no country known to him which has enough nurses at present, therefore he would not be able to import them if he wanted to. Put another way, the Shah believes that two years of military training either on direct military work or in the health and literacy corps inculcates a kind of discipline which the young people of his country need.

5. The Secretary and the Shah discussed military aid to Pakistan. They agreed that the Pakistan Armed Forces were a “Russian salad” made up of US, British, French, Chinese, and Russian equipment. The Shah expressed the hope that the US would send arms directly to Pakistan, the Secretary commenting that this was better than sending them through third countries like Iran. FYI: Secretary was referring to present limited policy. End FYI. The Shah assumed that Pakistan re[Page 60]quires spare parts, transport in the form of C–130’s, and assistance in retrofitting its tanks which can be done in Iran. The Secretary mentioned that USG had approved the sale of Iranian C–130’s to Pakistan. The Shah replied that he had so informed Bhutto on his recent visit to Tehran but had had no reply about this sale from him as yet. The Shah then stated that he was doing his best to make a bridge between Pakistan and India. He pointed out that he had told Bhutto that there was no point in the Pakistanis attempting a revengeful war against India. The Secretary and he discussed the possibility of POW trial and the bad blood which this would engender. Although Iran will not recognize Bangladesh until Pakistan does, the Shah feels that a tripartite meeting without preconditions is the best way to proceed towards sorting out the subcontinent. Both he and the Secretary noted that it would be useful if the British would reassure the Pakistanis by some gesture which would dull the impression that Britain is only behind India.

6. The conversation turned to the Persian Gulf. The Shah queried as to how Iran can help Kuwait if Kuwait does not request it. After reiterating his relief that the superpowers should stay out of the Gulf, he turned to the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi and indicated it was the last serious one in that part of the area. He opined that the Saudis should do more to be helpful to North Yemen, Oman and Kuwait. The Secretary and he discussed the sale of F–4’s to Saudi Arabia and to Kuwait, the Shah repeating his position that he had no objection to this development. Both the Secretary and he agreed that Saudi Arabia was very slow at reaching decisions. The US offer of a month ago to sell Phantoms being evidence of this since no firm reply has as yet been received from the Saudis. Sisco described his hearing before the HFAC during which he explained the Iranian military buildup.4

7. The Shah then asked the Secretary what could be done to keep Sadat from “committing suicide” i.e. going to war. The Shah stressed his oft-made recommendation that the Rogers Plan be reactivated in some form since Zayyat had told him “Egypt will accept the Rogers Plan.” The Secretary pointed out that the Egyptians sometimes do not seem to understand what the Rogers Plan entails. He indicated that nothing could now be done until after the Security Council debate on the Middle East. He stressed that the United States was prepared to do anything it could to bring about direct or indirect talks between Egypt [Page 61] and Israel. The Shah agreed but stated again that some proposal must be brought forward which does not seem one-sided in favor of the Israelis. He expressed the hope that the United States would pursue a more even-handed policy in the area. The Secretary pointed out that this was what the United States was trying to do and indicated that the United States has good relations these days with Lebanon, Jordan, the Sudan, and even with Algeria. It is doing everything it can to create a real impression of even-handedness including maintaining regular contacts with the Egyptians. The Shah indicated that there is no other way. The Secretary further pointed out that both Israel and Egypt trust the United States and that we still have hopes of being able to accomplish something. The Shah indicated that he would be glad to have Amb. Hoveyda at the UN get in touch with Amb. Scali to see if there is any way in which Iran can be helpful in New York at getting talks going.

8. The Secretary then queried whether the Shah would agree that CENTO is now a more useful vehicle than ever. Noting that the Pakistanis want CENTO to help against India the Secretary indicated that this was not possible but that CENTO could be used to strengthen and provide support to Pakistan. The Shah expressed agreement, then stated that CENTO will become important in the Indian Ocean area as Iran becomes a naval power of increasing size. This in his view should establish a deterrent in the Indian Ocean particularly when Iran has long-legged Phantoms, air to surface missiles on her planes, and a refueling capability to cover the area almost as far as Diego Garcia. The Shah then noted that Iran has relations with South Africa and that General Frazer, former Chief of Staff, is coming to Iran as South African Consul General. He concluded by again agreeing with the Secretary that CENTO has an increasingly important role to play.

9. Shah did not raise Greece as anticipated. We assume this was because he had commented on this matter in his talks with Amb. Helms earlier in week.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 603, Country Files—Middle East, Iran, Vol. V, May–December 1973. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Helms on June 13 and approved by Sisco and in S. Repeated to Belgrade, Islamabad, New Delhi, Jidda, Kuwait, Ankara, London, Moscow, Tel Aviv, and Cairo.
  2. Not found. According to telegram 1304 from Copenhagen, June 13, telegram 4063 from Tehran transmitted a preliminary draft of the record of this conversation. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, ORG 7 S) Secretary Rogers was in Tehran to attend the CENTO Ministerial meeting June 8–11.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 10.
  4. On June 6, Sisco testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which was holding hearings on U.S. interests in and policy toward the Persian Gulf, U.S. arms sales to Persian Gulf countries, and the current status of Israeli-Arab relations. For Sisco’s testimony, see New Perspectives on the Persian Gulf: Hearings Before the House Subcommittee on the Near East and South Asia of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, 93rd Congress, pp. 1–34 (1973).