212. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2
- Message from Ambassador Farland
Ambassador Farland has sent you the message at Tab B. In it he notes that British, French and Italian arms salesmen are putting the hard sell on the Iranian armed forces and are encountering increasing receptivity. He says that his MAAG Chief has hesitated to push US weapons—which the Iranians would prefer—since there is a point of view “in certain echelons of the USG to the effect that we should do what is possible to prevent Iran, in our studied wisdom, from overbuying.” Farland says his view is that “as long as Iran can financially afford both guns and butter there is no reason for us to lose the market, particularly when viewed over the red ink on our balance of payments ledger.” He asks for your guidance and says that his MAAG chief will be instructed accordingly.
The message I propose in reply [Tab A] quite simply states that we should leave decisions on what to buy to the Government of Iran and confine ourselves to assuring that the Iranian Government has good technical advice from our military people on the capabilities of the equipment involved.
You are separately receiving a decision memorandum on the items which the President promised to the Shah when he was in Tehran. I have included the above guidance in the decision memorandum in that package as well. Therefore, you can reply to Farland both by telling him what our position is and by saying that this position will be confirmed by a Presidential directive here in the next few days.
RECOMMENDATION: That you approve sending the message at Tab A to Farland by the back channel.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 602, Country Files, Middle East, Iran, Vol. IV, 9/1/71–4/73. Top Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten note on the memorandum reads “Haig and HAK sent with addition of sentence pencilled on draft at Tab A. 7/17/72. No further action required.” The additional pencilled sentence at the end of the first paragraph of Tab A reads, “In short, it is not repeat not our policy to discourage Iranian arms purchases.” Next to the addition was a handwritten note, “Change added by HAK.” Tab A is the backchannel message as submitted by the White House for transmission.↩
- Saunders conveyed the recommendation from Ambassador Farland that the United States cease discouraging Iran from overspending on military items, to the detriment of U.S. arms suppliers.↩