132. Telegram 3242 From the Embassy in Iran to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sisco)1 2

Subject:

  • Charges by Former Iranian Student Daryani That US Agencies Working Against Iran

Ref:

  • (A) Tehran 3190; (B) Tehran 3146: (C) Tehran 3128 (D) State 106613

In light rather bizarre character of GOI involvement in Daryani incident and request in reftel (D), following supplements previous reports (reftels) and gives our assessment of possible future implications for US–GOI relations:

1.
I had very satisfactory private meeting with Alam evening of June 15. He said he had reported fully to Shah on our conversation on June 14 (para 5 and 6, reftel B) and shah had read carefully and with great interest confidential memorandum I gave Alam June 14 for Shah covering both Daryani’s activities in US and our close cooperation with Iranian security authorities on this case since 1968. Alam again expressed regret about story, said it was result of excess zeal by Savak; that it had been killed and there would be no more published about it here.
2.
I thanked Alam but said I wanted to ask very frankly whether there was something troubling Shah about actions of USG or any of its agencies. I mentioned comments attributed to Shah by French correspondent (para 6, reftel C) and said Daryani story following on remarks attributed to French correspondent gave me real concern. I asked Alam to tell Shah that if he had any concerns or doubts about US friendship for Iran or about activities of any US official or private agencies or personalities, I trusted he would be prepared to discuss them privately with me, for continued close cooperation and friendship between Iran and US required absolute frankness in our relations. If he had any complaints I wanted to know about them for if we could [Page 2]not talk frankly about such matters there was not much purpose in my being here as Ambassador.
3.
Alam said he agreed and would be pleased to transmit my message to Shah. At same time he said Shah had been misquoted by French correspondent and had not charged that US intelligence service was cooperating with Communists to Iran’s detriment but had referred to British intelligence. He went on that Shah has highest regard for President Nixon personally as well as officially and that he also much appreciated frank and cordial relationship which had developed with me here in Tehran. He could assure me, therefore, that Shah did not believe USG was working against Iran’s interests.
4.
I expressed thanks but said I continued to have visceral feeling something might be disturbing Shah. Alam replied in negative but in subsequent give and take he did mention there were “some Iranians” that still recalled:
(A)
A “war game” on Iran conducted by MIT on behalf of USG agency about ten years ago which was unflattering to Iran as well as to Shah, portraying it as a sort of US satellite (I do not have details on this.)
(B)
Incident involving Attorney General Robert Kennedy with anti-Iran students in Washington (reftel B).
(C)
A confidential study conducted by White House staff aide Robert Komer during Johnson administration which was leaked and received wide publicity in press. Object of study was allegedly to devise ways and means for USG to put pressures on Iran to “democratize.” However, Alam said all this was in past and water over dam and neither Shah nor GOI believed reports that agencies of USG were working against Iran’s interests.
5.
On evening of June 16 Alam called me again. He said he had fully reported our June 15 conversation above and Shah wanted me to know:
(A)
that he had full confidence “Nixon administration” was staunch friend of Iran;
(B)
that he did not rpt not believe allegations that any USG agencies were working against Iran’s interest. “At same time,” Alam said, “we cannot say the same about the British.”
7.

Comment: (A) Although Daryani story was unpleasant incident for us here and caused flurry of speculation in Tehran as to what was behind it, we believe on balance it has perhaps been useful in terms of our relations with Shah. While Shah is unquestionably outstanding leader in South and Southwest Asia and while basically he regards the US as one of his firmest friends, he does have a bit of a split personality and elephant-like memory about what he considers past slights such as those mentioned in para 4 above. This, coupled with his early insecurities in 1940’s and 1950’s when he was badly shoved around, particularly by British and Russians, have, we believe, left residue of subconscious as well as conscious sensitivities. Furthermore, whispering campaign in Tehran in middle and late fifties and sixties (which in low key continues in certain circles today) that he had only retained his throne thanks to CIA may also have worked on his subconscious.

(B) In any event, we believe that something positive has resulted from Daryani incident because it has enabled us at highest level and at senior cabinet level to impress importance of discussing with US privately any charges against any USG agency or instrumentality before GOI gives it publicity here. Furthermore, while Shah may not actually have seen private showing of Daryani interview arranged for editors and journalists, it obviously could not have been made public without SAVAK getting general clearance from palace. Fact that when story broke we branded it as false and a fabrication has also served to let people in high quarters here know that we will not be shoved around and remain silent when stories appear that are false or inaccurate. Finally, we believe it has been therapeutic to get out on table and have frank discussion with Zahedi and Alam (and through Alam with Shah) about past incidents such as those mentioned in para 4 above, which clearly still rankle and until now at least have left lingering residue of suspicion.

[Page 4]

(C) As we all know, Shah is proud, imperious and sometimes very difficult man. He is very sensitive man. In addition to specific incidents such as those mentioned above, his sensitivities are also unquestionably wounded by demonstrations of radical Iranian students in US and elsewhere abroad attacking him personally and what he has achieved. While intellectually he recognizes that we are doing all we legally can in US to protect Iranian installations and personalities and cooperate to help Iran achieve its objectives in many fields, at same time I hazard that each time there is anti-Shah demonstrations in US, he probably says to his advisers: “Why do the Americans permit this? Why don’t they do something about it or deport these students if they don’t behave?”

(D) In spite of complexities of Shah’s character and fact that he is at times very difficult indeed, he is unquestioned leader of only strong, stable and at same time very friendly country we have to work with in great arc of South and Southwest Asia. Furthermore, strong and friendly Iran (and this, of course, means the Shah) is essential to many of our own most vital national interests and those of our NATO Allies and Japan because of Persian Gulf. If peace and stability in vitally important Gulf are to be maintained and Western interests not jeopardized, principal burden must fall on Iran. While Shah is sometimes querulous with us, he is also often querulous with others, including some of his own principal advisers. We believe he continues to regard US as one of Iran’s firmest and most dependable friends and we know that he has strong feeling of respect and personal friendship for the President. While i am, therefore, not presently concerned about future of US-Iran relations so long as we continue to cooperate and be forthcoming, I am deeply concerned about possibility of a crisis in British-Iran relations, which is brewing ever stronger and which may reach crisis proportions if Gulf islands problem is not settled. This will be subject of separate message.

8.
Sorry this message is so long but assumed you would wish full report and assessment.
MacArthur
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 13–2 IRAN. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Ambassador MacArthur questioned Minister of Court ALAM as to whether underlying Iranian grievances against the United States had motivated the Daryani affair.