64. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State and the Embassy in Bahrain1

5694. Dept pass SecDef, MIDEASTFOR, CINCUSNAVEUR, USCINCEUR. Subject: Retaining MIDEASTFOR in Bahrain. Ref: State 146898.2

1. Summary: GOI is disposed to be helpful on MIDEASTFOR issue, but we do not know yet what form Iranian assistance will take. Action Requested: Appreciate advice on line GOI might take with GOB should Iranian MFA ask for our suggestions. End summary.

2. On July 10 Ambassador saw Court Minister Alam for discussion of future of MIDEASTFOR at Bahrain. Ambassador presented letter which drew on reftel and other sources to make following points:

(1) Apparent GOB inclination to reverse decision on termination of agreement, (2) GOB’s interest in Iranian and Saudi views, (3) radical [Page 206]elements on Bahrain, (4) increasing Soviet activity in Gulf area, and (5) utility of MIDEASTFOR presence in connection with latter two points. Letter expressed hope GOI shared these US interests and asked for Iran’s views. Copy of letter pouched NEA/IRN.

3. During ensuing conversation, Ambassador discussed at length implications of heightened Soviet activity in Persian Gulf and observed that we were aware that public GOI position on regional security might create problems for Iran should it wish to assist with MIDEASTFOR. Gist of Alam’s reply was that, Iranian public position notwithstanding, it would be “terrible” for US Navy to leave Persian Gulf at time when Soviets were augmenting their presence and activities.

4. During evening same day, Alam called Ambassador to advise that Shah had read letter and directed that “necessary steps will be taken.” Matter had been referred to Foreign Minister who would study “agreement” to ascertain whether there might be some clause that would “allow for deviation.” We are not clear what this means. It may mean that Alam had reference to an agreement between Iran and Bahrain that was drawn up at time of Bahrain independence. It may also mean that MFA will be looking at homeporting agreement to determine whether there might be some loophole through which it might suggest GOB could slip to escape termination decision.

5. On July 11 DCM called Nadim at MFA who confirmed that Ministry was seized with problem and that Foreign Minister would be in touch with us on July 13.

6. Please let us know by Niact Immediate cable if Department or Manama have any suggestions of legal loopholes in the homeporting agreement or other points to be made with GOB which we might pass to Foreign Minister. It is possible that MFA will have its own ideas, but it may look to us for assistance in handling task imposed by Shah. Whether or not suggestions are legally sound would not be the main point. It would seem to us sufficient for Iran to have some substantive and reasonably convincing advice to pass to the GOB which would implicitly convey Iran’s endorsement of retention of MIDEASTFOR at Bahrain.3

Helms
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 603, Country Files—Middle East, Iran, Vol. VI, January 1974–. Secret; Niact; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to Cairo, Jidda, and Kuwait.
  2. Telegram 146898 to Tehran, July 8, informed the Embassy that Bahrain’s authorities might reverse their decision to terminate the agreement allowing MIDEASTFOR to use Bahrain as its home port, and instructed the Embassy to inform Iran of the problems that would ensue if the force were abruptly withdrawn. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D740181–1082)
  3. Telegram 5715 from Tehran, July 12, reported that Foreign Minister Khalatbari agreed to be helpful on MIDEASTFOR and would send an envoy to Bahrain. (Ibid., D740186–0890) In telegram 152059 to Tehran, July 14, the Department suggested that the Bahrainis be told that despite Iranian disapproval of foreign naval forces in the Gulf, Iran believed that the U.S. Navy should stay, given increased Soviet naval activity in the area. (Ibid., D740188–0543) According to telegram 7081 from Tehran, August 22, Iran’s confidential mission to Bahrain urging that the force be allowed to remain played a part in Bahrain’s favorable decision. (Ibid., D740231–1072) Documentation is scheduled for publication in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–9, Documents on Middle East Region; Arabian Peninsula; North Africa, 1973–1976.