2. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


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[Omitted here is material unrelated to Iran.]

Shah’s Views: General Burchinal (Deputy CINCEUR) recently had a good talk with the Shah, the highlights of which were:

—They discussed Iran’s present and future military requirements at some length. The main points that emerged were that the Shah [Page 20] clearly intends to develop a highly reactive mobile land force with helicopter fire support to handle border incursions in limited areas, while his air force uses the latest model U.S. aircraft to strike across borders. He is also intent on developing a capability to project the Iranian naval force into the greater Indian Ocean area.

—The Shah foresees a shift in strategic interest to the Middle East, where Iran will be the most powerful country. The U.S., he said, is better off to have two strong friends in the area, not just Israel, since there are certain limitations on Israel’s usefulness to the U.S., which is not true of Iran.

The Shah stressed that he intended to make Iran a major Indian Ocean power. This stems from his belief that the Soviets are moving through India, Aden, and Somalia to control the access to the vast energy resources of the Persian Gulf.

—The Shah observed that there was a strong leftist and socialist tide sweeping toward the Middle East from Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. He is particularly concerned about Pakistan and its ties with the PRC and feels that we should have appointed an ambassador to Pakistan before we did for India.

The most important new element in the Shah’s thinking is his now apparently firm intention to play a much enlarged naval role in the Indian Ocean area—beyond what he seemed to be considering last May when you visited him. To this end Iranian planning is moving ahead for a large three-service base at Chah Bahar in southern Iran, and Iran will purchase two destroyers from the U.S. and two frigates from the UK over the next two years to add to the thirty ships it already has. The scheduled purchase of six P–3 aircraft will also give the Iranian Air Force a substantial reconnaissance and ASW capability over the Indian Ocean. Finally, Iran is providing military assistance to Oman on the opposite side of the mouth of the Persian Gulf and apparently has expressed an interest in port facilities and naval cooperation with Mauritius, South Africa, and Australia.

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Iran.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 49, President’s Daily Briefings, January 18–31, 1973. Top Secret; Sensitive. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. The extract is based on USCINCEUR telegram 181330Z to the JCS, January 17. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 12–5 IRAN)