138. Letter From the Director of Central Intelligence (Helms) to Secretary of State Rogers1 2

Dear Bill:

[text not declassified]

As the Ambassador mentions in the last paragraph, we discussed this subject during my recent visit to Teheran. When I returned I passed on the Ambassador’s views to Under Secretary Johnson, and I am now having my experts look into technical end other aspects of assisting the Iranians in this problem. I will let you know what their findings are.

Below follows the text of Ambassador MacArthur’s message to you:

“I have become increasingly concerned at the extent to which insecurity of Iranian communications probably reveals to the Soviets details of Iranian-U.S. diplomacy. Over a period of time this could become a serious obstacle to effective pursuit of our national interests and Soviet knowledge could be exploited by them to the deterrent of our close and valuable relationships with the GOI.

“Over the past year or so, various agencies of the GOI at first somewhat diffidently sought our advice and assistance in improving the security and effectiveness of intelligence and diplomatic circuits. Recently their requests have become more insistent and sharply focused. [2 lines not declassified] The latest request came from Foreign Minister Zahedi who on 19 July expressed to me serious misgivings about his communications and asked me for assistance in improving the Foreign Ministry’s cryptographic procedures.

[Page 2]

“The GOI has the means to obtain more sophisticated equipment from sources other than the U.S. Government. There is no doubt whatever to my mind that they will go this route if they find our response negative or equivocal. We have seen many examples of this tendeney in their procurement of military equipment and in their current efforts to procure eloctronic equipment. Sooner or later we are going to have to face this issue squarely and it is my view that our long run interests will be best served if we face it now.

“Due to the extreme sensitivity of this matter and because I also discussed it briefly with Dick Helms during his recent visit here, [1 line not declassified] I would appreciate your reaction to above after you and Dick have had an oportunity to consider what we may be able to do.”

Richard Helms
  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Executive Registry Files, Job 80B01086A, Box 1, Executive Registry Subject Files, I–13, Iran. Secret. The letter is a copy with an indication that Helms signed the original.
  2. Helms discussed Ambassador MacArthur’s concern that the insecurity of Iranian communications allowed the Soviets access to details of U.S.-Iranian diplomacy.