21. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1
4661. Subject: Shah’s Visit to U.S. Ref: A. State 122217, B. State 128324, C. Tehran 4639.2
Summary: This is second of two messages dealing with Shah’s visit to U.S. This message lists subjects which Shah may raise with President and high USG officials he will be meeting during visit.[Page 65]
1. Summit Meeting and Détente: Shah is uneasy about implications for Iran and this general area of détente between Soviet Union and West, particularly United States. In spite of surface cordiality of Iranian-Soviet relations, Shah harbors deep distrust of USSR and reasons that détente with West will release energies and resources for Soviet machinations in Middle East and especially in vital Persian Gulf, Arabian Peninsula, and Iraq. Recurrent theme in Iran these days is that détente should be worldwide and if achieved in one part of the world, it should not be at expense of security of nations in other areas. Moreover, Shah feels that in atmosphere of détente U.S. may take more tolerant view of Soviet effort to enhance its position in this region than would otherwise be the case. He is concerned that we may let down our psychological guard to ultimate detriment of Iranian interests. He has on several occasions recently expressed to ranking USG officials his concern over agreements which may have been reached between President and Brezhnev that might have bearing on Iran’s vital interests. Secretary’s assurances to him on 9 June were noted, but he will want to be reassured (State 118336).3
2. Accordingly, Shah will be most interested in hearing from President about summit meeting, including not only any discussions or understandings reached concerning Persian Gulf and Middle East, but also more generally such subjects as prospects for détente in Europe, progress of SALT, CSCE and MBFR talks, etc. Shah will also look forward to President’s view on how U.S. regards Soviet activities in the Middle East aimed at securing dominant position in Gulf and Indian Ocean area.
He undoubtedly hopes U.S. is prepared publicly as well as privately to take firm position with Soviets that U.S. will stand firm on Soviet effort to expand its influence in Middle East, Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean regions and he may tell President that if we are steadfast in these areas USG can count on Iran to cooperate fully with us.
3. Relations with China: Iran has been pushing hard to improve its relations with Peking and its success can be measured by reassuring support which PRC is giving to Iranian position on rearmament and Persian Gulf. At present Iran welcomes what appears to be growing Chinese interest in this region both as a force to check Soviet ambitions, and also to shore up Pakistan, about which Shah is deeply concerned. Accordingly, improving relations between Peking and Washington are seen here in highly favorable light. Shah will be greatly interested in current status and direction of our Chinese relations. He will welcome anything we can say on this subject as well as status and trends as we see them of Peking–Moscow relations.[Page 66]
4. Persian Gulf, Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Arab-Israeli Dispute and Energy Crisis: This complex of subjects is increasingly interrelated in Shah’s mind. He may advance, but in low key, his well known thesis that peace and stability within the Persian Gulf should be the sole responsibility of the littoral states. This thesis is consistent with public and private statements we have made to effect that Gulf states should cooperate for their own security. At same time Shah would like reassurance on how we see our interests and commitments in the Gulf. He has not urged U.S. to involve itself directly in problems of area, but he welcomes U.S. willingness to provide Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with sophisticated weapons. However, he remains worried about insurrection at Dhofar, trouble between the two Yemens, fragility of UAE, and what he considers relative weakness and fecklessness of Saudi Arabia under King Faisal. In this context it would be useful to suggest to Shah that in his commendable efforts to improve relations between Iran and Arab states on other side of Gulf, it is incumbent on Iran as by far strongest power, to reassure Saudi Arabia of Iranian intentions and to take lead in seeking closer cooperation, particularly between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Foreign Minister Khalatbari’s trip to Jidda is welcome step in this direction.4
5. Iraq and Soviet Union: Shah continues to be uneasy about subversive activities of Iraq allied with Soviet Union. We have passed to GOI substance of various reports suggesting that honeymoon between Soviet Union and Iraq is over but he has countered with information suggesting Soviet influence in Iraq is increasing (Tehran 4475).5 Shah will be interested in any assessments we have of status and direction of Soviet-Iraq relations.
6. Arab-Israeli Dispute: Shah will express his concern that current impasse may lead Arabs to desperate acts and play into hands of Soviets. He can be expected to urge more even-handed U.S. policy in area and reactivation of Rogers Plan in some form.
7. Pakistan: In year since President’s visit here Shah has become increasingly concerned about Pakistan and maintenance of its integrity. Shah feels that we are not doing enough for Pakistan and will probably urge that we be more responsive to Pakistan’s requests for military assistance. Shah will, of course, be interested in having President’s views on Pakistan and its future in the wake of Bhutto’s visit to Washington.[Page 67]
8. Oil: Shah will almost certainly raise subject of oil. He is pleased at outcome of oil negotiations with consortium and is embarked on negotiations with several countries for Iranian refined products. In addition, NIOC is in last stages of negotiating with Ashland Oil Company of Kentucky (public knowledge) and with Apco Oil Company of New York (still confidential) for equity participation in existing oil refineries in the U.S. to be bought with guaranteed crude supplies. Shah is also very, perhaps even excessively, optimistic about future of Iranian gas and we have a long lead here with U.S. company (International System and Control of Houston) having formed Kalingas which will almost certainly be producing Iran’s first LNG exports. He will push for further such projects. On hardy perennial question of increased oil exports to U.S. we can at last be completely forthcoming following President’s energy message.6 Shah will be interested in evolving US–USSR relations on gas and oil and may wish compare notes on how to obtain hard currency payments from Soviets in such transactions.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 603, Country Files—Middle East, Iran, Vol. V, May–December 1973. Confidential; Priority; Exdis.↩
- See Document 20 and footnote 2 thereto.↩
- Document 19.↩
- A description of Khalatbari’s trip to Jidda, which was intended to deepen Saudi-Iranian cooperation in the Gulf, is in telegrams 4400 from Tehran, June 21, and 2619 from Jidda, June 24. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 33 PERSIAN GULF)↩
- Document 218.↩
- President Nixon delivered a special message to Congress on energy on April 18. The text of the President’s message and his remarks on transmitting the message to Congress are in Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pages 301–319.↩