227. Memorandum From Director of Central Intelligence Colby to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Options for Consideration Regarding Increased Assistance to the Kurds

1. Based upon your discussions with the Shah of Iran and Ambassador Helms, plus Mulla Mustafa Barzani’s personal presentation to our Chief of Station in Tehran in mid-July,2 both of which concerned Barzani’s request for increased assistance, we submit the following options for your consideration in responding to the Kurdish request.

2. Options:

We do not wish to encourage Barzani to abandon his present defensive posture. If his forces were to launch offensive operations, Barzani would be embarking upon an extremely risky course of action from his own point of view. He would also require substantial increases in material and financial support going far beyond present levels and which could not be provided without seriously risking the exposure of U.S. involvement. Therefore, we must address the question of being responsive to the Shah’s presentation without leading the Kurds to believe that we have moved beyond our basic position of maintaining their defensive capability only. We believe there are four feasible alternatives open to us:

A. No increase in subsidies

Merely inform the Shah that we have decided to maintain our current annual subsidy level to the Kurds although we will build up a contingency supply of [less than 1 line not declassified] additional arms and ammunition to be readily available if increased fighting occurs. (Funds for this are in our Fiscal 1974 program. See paragraph 4A below.)

B. A one-time payment [less than 1 line not declassified]

A one-time payment of an additional [dollar amount not declassified] would help meet the Kurdish need for additional medical services, educational facilities, and other social services, to which the Shah re[Page 647]ferred. This would mean the addition of a further [less than 1 line not declassified] to our Fiscal 1974 program while maintaining our current annual subsidy level. Sustaining our present level of financial subsidy would emphasize to the Kurds that our basic support objectives remain limited and that they are not able to carry us into a heavier commitment which would allow them to launch offensive operations.

C. Increase our subvention level by 50%

This would mean an additional [less than 1 line not declassified] in FY 1974. The Shah, as well as the Kurds, would probably find this moderately responsive to their requirements and yet it is sufficiently limited to be within the context of our current policy of maintaining the Kurds in a defensive posture. It would, however, mean that we would have raised the basic level of our subvention to the Kurds and it would be difficult to reduce this level in the future.

D. Double our current subvention level

This would entail increasing our annual subsidy [less than 1 line not declassified]. The Shah would undoubtedly look favorably on such a course of action. We believe, however, that raising our support to this level might encourage Barzani to assume that he could eventually convince the U.S. Government to underwrite the offensive posture he clearly desires.

3. Recommendation: On the assumption that a positive response to the Shah’s request for additional aid to the Kurds is desirable, we believe that option B, a one-time payment of [less than 1 line not declassified] is the best option available. This would not affect a continuation of our subsidy at the current level, yet it would be responsive to both the Shah and the Kurds. If this response is considered insufficient, we would recommend option C, an increase in our subvention level by 50%, as the next best course of action.

4. Regardless of the choice of options exercised concerning the question of an increase in our subsidy to the Kurds, we have two pressing aspects of our already approved Kurdish program for Fiscal 1974 which require your attention at this time:

A. Request for the release by OMB of [less than 1 line not declassified] from FY 1974 funds

Within our already approved $5,000,000 program for Kurdish [less than 1 line not declassified] operations in Fiscal 1974 we identified [less than 1 line not declassified] as a contingency fund for the purchase of ordnance in the event of a sudden outbreak of fighting between the Kurds and Iraqi government forces. Agency stocks of the appropriate ordnance are low [2½ lines not declassified]. We have requested OMB to release the [less than 1 line not declassified] so we could proceed with the restoration of our stocks, but they have refused to do so. Therefore, we [Page 648] request your intervention with OMB to obtain the release of the required [less than 1 line not declassified] from FY 1974 funds being held for this purpose.

B. Request for the authorization of [less than 1 line not declassified] in additional funds from the Agency reserve

When we began our $3,000,000 annual subsidy to the Kurds in mid-1972, the monthly total of [less than 1 line not declassified] equalled [less than 1 line not declassified] Iraqi dinars. A recent rise in the cost of the Iraqi dinar, however, will require an additional [less than 1 line not declassified] above the $3,000,000 already allotted, in order to maintain the subsidy constant at [less than 1 line not declassified] Iraqi dinars per month. We consider it important for our relations with the Kurds not to allow the monthly dinar subsidy to drop below last year’s level. We request, therefore, that [less than 1 line not declassified] in additional funds for FY 1974 be approved and subsequently released from the Agency’s reserve to cover the increased cost of maintaining our subvention to Barzani at the current level of [less than 1 line not declassified] Iraqi dinars per month.

5. Attached is a progress report on our Kurdish and Iraqi operations to date.3

W.E. Colby4
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry Files, Job 80M01066A, Box 12, Folder 27. Secret; Sensitive. A note on another copy of this memorandum reads: “Advance copy used for 7/31/73 meeting, Kennedy, Saunders, Waller, Fees, RRR.” (National Security Council, Nixon Intelligence Files, Box 8, RMN, Iraq/Kurds, 7 April 1969–12 June 1974) Regarding the July 31 meeting, see footnote 2, Document 225.
  2. See Document 222. Kissinger discussed the Kurdish situation with Helms and the Shah during the Shah’s July visit to Washington; see Documents 24, 25, and 27.
  3. Attached but not printed.
  4. Printed from a copy with this stamped signature and an indication that Colby signed the original.