20. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

4639. Subject: Shah’s Visit to U.S. Ref: A. State 122217, B. State 128324, C. State 118336, D. Geneva 1942.2

Summary: This is first of two messages on Shah’s forthcoming visit to U.S. This message seeks to describe current status of U.S.-Iranian relations and Shah’s perceptions of these relations. Second message will deal with topics Shah may raise with President.3 End summary.

1. When President visited Iran just over year ago, Shah characterized U.S.-Iranian relations as never having been better. We feel confident in saying Shah will be arriving in U.S. at time when relations are even better and more solidly based than ever before. Further, President will be receiving a friendly and seasoned Chief of State, who is at height of his power, fully confident about wisdom of his policies and direction he is taking his country and justifiably proud of Iran’s and his remarkable achievements. Shah values his friendship and meeting with President, and looks forward to comparing notes and further developing close relationship and cooperation between U.S. and Iran which are important to Shah and which help him guide his country into assuming greater role and responsibilities in this troubled part of the world—in best tradition of Nixon Doctrine.

2. During year since President’s visit here, Shah and Iran have moved from strength to strength domestically; country remains politically stable and economy continues to develop vigorously. Massive new Fifth Plan has just been launched over three times size of Fourth Plan calling for $36 billion investment in country’s future. However, dynamism of Iranian economy and of Shah’s outlook are such that Shah has started talking about overhauling Plan as already too modest for his goals. Attracted by Iran’s political stability and economic prospects, American, British, French, German, Japanese, and other businessmen are beating paths to Tehran to negotiate vast variety of economic and business arrangements which will further move this [Page 63] country forward and provide more balanced economy against day when Iran’s oil reserves will be depleted. Lengthy and complex negotiations with oil consortium have been successfully completed and new oil arrangements have been established which Shah believes to be mutually advantageous to Iran and consortium and which should ensure secure supplies to consumers and substantial income to Iran. Typically, Shah is looking forward to new areas of development such as Iran’s extensive gas reserves.

3. On international front, Shah is moving ahead energetically to gain further recognition and respect for Iran as stable and responsible member of international community. In last year he has received world figures and has visited several important capitals. He is embarked on what he calls “independent” foreign policy involving friendship with all and good relations with major powers (US, USSR, PRC and Britain). Last year also marked by strengthening of ties with Eastern Bloc and establishment of relations with East Germany, North Korea and several African countries. Shah does not aspire to major power status but he believes these initiatives enhance Iran’s prestige and role in world as country with friends in all camps which can make positive contribution to settlement of international problems. Shah has also sought to improve relations with PRC and this policy is paying off handsomely, as evidenced by forthright endorsement of Iran’s foreign and defense policies by Foreign Minister Chi during recent visit to Tehran.

4. Iran’s relations with the U.S. continue to prosper. In spite of Iran’s efforts to improve its relations with USSR, and to establish or expand relations with Communist nations, Shah continues to look on U.S. as Iran’s closest and most trustworthy friend. Progress has been achieved on several fronts. U.S. has moved ahead of Germany in the last year to become Iran’s largest trading partner. Arms build-up based largely on purchases from U.S. and on assignment of American military and civilian technicians to advise Iranians on build-up are progressing satisfactorily. There are no important problems between our two countries and both of us continue to benefit significantly from this desirable state of affairs.

5. Perhaps even more important is new texture which has been introduced into our relations in last year and which gives them even greater substance. This is sense of greater equality by Iran in its cooperative dealing with U.S. This comes about because we have mastered tendency in recent years to second-guess Shah about his policies while Iran in turn has recovered from its client status attitude. Turning point occurred when President came to Iran last May. Important agreements were reached at that time regarding our willingness to assist Iran in its arms build-up, but even more significant and lasting result of visit was acknowledgment that henceforth we would accord Iran right and [Page 64] wisdom to make decisions regarding its national security and other policies and stop questioning their merit. Several events during year contributed to cement further this new cooperative relationship. Shah’s prompt agreement to President’s request for transfer last fall of Iranian aircraft to Vietnam was one such example.4 While transaction posed some problems for Shah, we surmise its net effect was to add another important and positive bond to our relations in that after many years of being on the receiving end of assistance, Shah could now come to help of U.S. in significant way. When all of returns were in, we believe Shah stood a little taller and our relations with Iran acquired even healthier basis.

6. In summary, Shah will be coming to Washington as a close and good friend of U.S. and as enlightened, successful and confident Chief of State. He will be accompanied by beautiful, intelligent, and popular Queen. It is relevant in this regard to note Shah’s visit will be brief. He will, of course, be pleased with honors and ceremonies accorded him, but his principal business will be talks with President. Once this has been accomplished he will forego tours and sightseeing that customarily associated with such visits and return home.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 603, Country Files—Middle East, Iran, Vol. V, May–December 1973. Confidential; Exdis.
  2. Telegram 122217 to Tehran, June 22, provided itinerary details of the Shah’s upcoming visit. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 IRAN) Telegram 128324 to Tehran, June 29, included a memorandum of conversation between Sisco and Zahedi discussing the recent U.S.-Soviet summit in Washington. (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy Files, [no film number]) Telegram 118336 to Tehran and telegram 1942 from Geneva are Documents 19 and 14, respectively.
  3. Document 21.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–4, Documents on Iran and Iraq, 1969–1972, Documents 224 and 226.