4. Memorandum From Secretary of State Kissinger to President Ford1


  • Ambassador Helms Assessment of Situation in Near East and South Asia

When Richard Helms took up his post as our Ambassador to Iran, we asked him to keep watch over developments in the entire region stretching from Iraq, Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan, to India and Pakistan. Ambassador Helms has just sent me [Page 19] his annual assessment of developments and prospects in this region. (A reference map of the region is at Tab A.)2

1. The Price of Oil: With oil selling at four times its October 1973 price, stabilizing the price of oil must be ranked as one of the critical problems in the area. As Helms notes, the future of oil prices depends on the success of our endeavors for a peaceful Arab-Israeli settlement.

We must stabilize the price of oil, Helms is convinced. We cannot accomplish this by using the Saudis, he believes, because they probably cannot be so used; we cannot achieve it by threatening the Shah, because this only makes him less willing to compromise. Helms, who knows the Shah well, believes that the Shah is “not an unreasonable man” and can see himself the calamitous consequences of an economic collapse in the West.

We should therefore try to make clear to the Shah the ruinous effects of the excessive oil prices. We should also try, Helms suggests, to get the Chinese to make the same point to the Shah. This is not a far-fetched suggestion. The Chinese (who are good friends of the Shah) should hardly welcome an economic collapse of Western Europe which would free Soviet forces for redeployment in China’s direction.

[Omitted here is discussion of “India–Pakistan–Iran Relations,” “The Indian Nuclear Test,” “The New U.S. Rapprochement with Egypt and Syria,” “Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean,” “Iraq,” and “China’s Role.”]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, “Outside the System” Chronological Files, Box 1. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. Helms’s assessment is in backchannel message 966 from Tehran, August 25. (Ibid., National Security Adviser, Backchannel Messages, Box 4, Middle East/Africa) Tab A is attached but not printed.