8. Editorial Note

On February 2, 1973, the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger sent President Nixon a memorandum that includes an analysis of the Iranian oil issue. It reads: “The Shah has told Ambassador Farland that his publicly announced decision to take over complete control and operation of oil production is his final and absolute last word, which will not be changed under any circumstances.” After outlining the consortium’s options, Kissinger continued: “Ambassador Farland is convinced that the Shah is a victim of poor advice from his advisers and that our (and the consortium’s) arguments either are not getting through to the Shah or are being distorted. Moreover, he fears that because of the mutual loss of confidence between the Shah and the consortium, the companies will, in any event, cut back on their purchase of Iranian oil and compensate with Arab oil, thus drawing further sharp reaction from the Shah and possibly contributing to a general deterioration of our bilateral relations. The Ambassador feels that prior to further negotiations, it would be useful to send a special emissary to try to renew the confidence necessary to make either option work and avoid possibly more serious problems in the future. This proposal will be considered along with other possibilities now being studied before recommendations are prepared for you.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 49, President’s Daily Briefings, February 1–15, 1973)

In a February 7 memorandum to Secretary of State William Rogers, Ambassador-designate to Iran Richard Helms passed on similar infor[Page 32]mation regarding Iran’s position on oil. According to the memorandum: “The Shah said that there was one point which he wished me [Helms], as Ambassador-designate, to understand very clearly: that he would not discuss his essential position on what would be done with Iran’s oil with me or any other representative of the United States Government whose objective was to influence him to modify it. He said that this is not the proper role of government as has been recognized by the United Nations. The U.N. has also made clear that the way in which a nation handles and disposes of its natural resources is its business alone.” When asked if his position was non-negotiable, “the Shah replied affirmatively, adding that he was entirely unable to understand why both the companies and the United States Government did not recognize that the arrangement which he offered was one which would fulfill the major United States objective of insuring a free and predictable flow of oil to the West at reasonable prices and at the same time relieve the oil companies of the need to make substantial investments in physical plant and exploration.” Helms’s memorandum to Rogers is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume XXXVI, Energy Crisis, 1969–1974, Document 162.