183. Telegram 2603 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]

NEA for Ambassador Farland


  • President’s Visit: US/Iran Relations and What They Mean to Shah


  • Tehran 2488

This is third in series of messages regarding President’s visit and deals with present state of US/Iran relations and matters Shah may raise with President in this context.

President will come to Iran at time when Shah has characterized US/Iranian relations as never having been better. Relations are close, we derive considerable benefit from this state of affairs (intelligence facilities, secure air corridor, etc.) and US Mission is able operate in Iran in atmosphere of friendliness and cooperation, rare in this part of world. Further, Iran is excellent customer for US products.
We are in unusual state of having only two bilateral issues currently under negotiation with GOI: CIVAIR agreement and Lend-Lease debts. Hopefully, former will be resolved at conference table in next few days. Progress is being made, on latter as GOI has acknowledged debt and has expressed willngness in principle to pay it.
On multilateral matters Iran record of collaboration with [Page 2]us is good. Most recently its delegation to single narcotics convention in Geneva wholeheartedly supported our efforts. GOI tries to take our point of view into consideration, is generally responsive to our suggestions and tries not to take positions that might embarrass us.
There are many strands in fabric of our relations with Iran, one of most important being contact Shah has had with all American Presidents since President Truman. He greatly values communicating with American Presidents on a personal and intimate basis and his forthcoming discussions with President Nixon should contribute significantly to strengthening further this bond that USG has had with Shah over the years.
Shah and GOI look upon us as Iran’s best and most trustworthy friend. This is valuable plus for US interests in this strategic part of world. There are also occasional irritants that develop in our relations that arise out of expectations generated by very trust and sense of deep friendship Iran accords us. Because Iran is success story, puts no demands upon our resources and creates no problems for us there is feeling here that Iran tends to be taken for granted by crisis-oriented leadership in Washington. There is also feeling that US at times is overlooking one of its best friends and most successful graduates from grant military and economic aid relationship, being country that has resources, pays its own way and is willing to play responsible role in area where peace and stability are vital to interests and free world.
Irritants also develop when Shah turns to us, as he generally does before considering others, for information or equipment to move his country forward economically and strengthen its armed forces. He wants best money can buy, and since he considers progressive, strong and responsible Iran to be in US interests he cannot understand our tendency to second-guess his request in military field or our reluctance at times to share with him our latest technology and weapons systems, etc. so that he can make informed decisions of his own about requirements. In his experience, American Presidents have seen his needs clearly but he finds our bureaucracy doesn’t also have the message, and agonizing months can [Page 3]go by while negotiating matters on which he believes agreement had been reached at highest levels of USG.
We anticipate this experience clearly influences his approach to President. We expect he will raise number of specific subjects for decision with President such as acquisition of F–15s, steady supply of specialized personnel to advise his armed forces, etc.
The President will also be coming to Tehran at time when Shah feels himself somewhat isolated and deeply troubled about state of world around him. He is therefore even more dependent on us as close and trustworthy friend. Shah is concerned over precarious situation that confronts him on his eastern, western and southern borders, with neighbors in a state of disarray (Pakistan), facing uncertain future (Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Turkey) or openly hostile (Iraq and to lesser extent Kuwait). He is especially troubled about developments in Gulf and recognizes that this area is as strategically important to Iran as it is to West. Through Gulf flows wealth which finances Shah’s ambitious development programs for his country and which fuels economies of free world. Fundamental to his concerns is his apprehension over Soviet objectives in area and USSSR success to date in achieving them. He points out that his neighbor to north, with which superficially Iran has good relations in spirit of detente, has for centuries had three historical objectives—a role in Mediterranean, presence in subcontinent and, most importantly, control in one form or another of the Gulf and its resources. Now that the Soviets have achieved first two objectives Shah feels they are closing in on Gulf. He has accumulated evidence to support his thesis including recent Soviet/Iraq treaty, Soviet plans to establish naval base at Umm al-Qasr in Gulf, Soviet efforts to establish diplomatic relations with Gulf states, etc. In addition, he sees radical Arab states such as Iraq and South Yemen increasingly dependent upon Soviets and responsive to Moscow guidance working hand in glove with Soviets to penetrate Gulf states and, directly or through subversion, take over area to eradicate Western influence, gain control of production of primary source of free world [Page 4]petroleum and use this control to exact concessions from free world.
We can anticipate that Shah will paint fairly bleak picture to President of world as he sees it. He is a professional Cassandra and prides himself on having been right in his predictions. Visit therefore comes at most opportune time. Shah will be anxious to have President’s assessment of Soviet objectives in Europe, Mediterranean, Middle East and South Asia and clarification of US views and reactions to these objectives in order better to determine what Iran’s role and response should be. He will hope that from these discussions he will be able reaffirm his view of us as trustworthy reliable and dependable friend prepared to be responsive to Shah’s needs as he defines them in order to play responsible role in area in full spirit of Nixon Doctrine.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 7 US/NIXON. Secret; Exdis.
  2. The Embassy surveyed the state of U.S.-Iran relations and the significance of the relationship to the Shah.