40. Backchannel Message From Secretary of State Kissinger to the Ambassador to Iran (Helms)1

WH32501. In relation to the information which you passed in Tehran 103,2 you should inform the Shah of the following U.S. policy considerations in relation to the current conflict in the Middle East:

(1) The United States is attempting to conduct itself in respect to the Middle East conflict in such a way as to be able to play a useful role in the resolution of the problems of the area, both in ending current hostilities as well as in achieving a permanent peace based on justice.

(2) Persuant to this approach, the United States has continued to act with great restraint, voicing no criticism of Arab actions and, despite a massive Soviet airlift resupply effort, refraining from under[Page 149]taking any resupply action. However, in the face of the heavy and accelerating Soviet resupply effort, which has been under way now for five days, the United States has now been forced to initiate resupply activity of its own, emphasizing mostly consumable items.

(3) With respect to the conflict itself, there is one factor which must be kept constantly in mind. We hope that the Shah will understand that an Arab victory in the present conflict, obtained as it would be by the use of Soviet arms, coupled with the victory obtained by Soviet arms in the Indo-Pakistan conflict of 1971, would most certainly lead to a radicalization of regimes in the area and, at least to some extent, globally.

The Shah should know that we are trying our best to bring the war to a conclusion, with all the above considerations fully in mind. We sincerely hope that the Shah will not let himself be swept along by tactical considerations of the moment to the prejudice of the greater strategic goals which both our countries are pursuing jointly. The President is, of course, greatly appreciative of the courage and leadership shown by the Shah in refusing the Soviet request for military overflight of Iran.3

Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 425, Backchannel Files, 1973, Middle East/Africa. Top Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. Sent with the instruction to deliver at opening of business October 14.
  2. Document 39.
  3. The Embassy advised the Department in telegram 7511 from Tehran, October 25, that Deputy Foreign Minister Mirfendereski had been dismissed, apparently because he had exceeded the Shah’s limit on the number of Soviet supply planes allowed to overfly Iran en route to the Arab combatants. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 425, Backchannel Files, 1973, Middle East/Africa) On November 5, in telegram 7725 from Tehran, Helms reported Alam’s confirmation that the overflights were the cause of Mirfendereski’s ouster: “He insisted, however, that there was only one civilian overflight of Iran consisting of six aircraft,” which did not square with an Iranian Air Force report that there were 10 planes. (Ibid.)