226. Telegram 6317 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2

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  • State 192358
Today I met with Shah at Niavaran Palace three hrs. after his return from USSR. Conversation began at 1600 hrs. local and ensued for one hour. Other subjects discussed will be reported septels.
I began the conversation by stating that the cooperation of the GOI is sought on a matter of highest urgency and importance which may materially advance prospects for early peaceful settlement in Southeast Asia.
The specific request of USG is that His Imperial Majesty agree to turn over to US for shipment to Vietnam the IIAF inventory of F–5As (90-aircraft) for immediate disassembly and delivery to Vietnam by fastest possible US carriers, (probably C–5A).
The USG will supplement to extent necessary personnel required to disassemble aircraft for onward shipment. The USG will be prepared to discuss with GOI on very urgent basis arrangements to credit GOI with appropriate amounts in repayment to be used against further aircraft purchases.
The USG recognizes unprecedented nature this request, which is made only for reasons of unparalleled importance. [Page 2] USG Is also approaching certain other countries with F–5As in similar manner at the highest level.
To enhance prospects for settlement an answer is needed immediately. It is of course of extreme importance to keep this matter held as closely as possible.
The Shah said he fully appreciated the US position in making every effort to bring about a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam war for all the obvious reasons. Therefore he declared that he was prepared to do all he could to assist in the encouragement of a solution. Consequently, he stated, subject to early replacement, he would be prepared to turn over two rpt two squadrons of F–5A, a total of 32 aircraft.
I pointed out that the need was so great and the objective of such magnitude that, as heretofore stated, it was hoped that a larger number of aircraft could be made available. The Shah avowed that he understood this, together with the full import of my statement to him, but thereupon he dwelt at length upon aspects of a new training program which GOI Air Force was instituting and which required a minimum of 53 F–5A; hence he was subject to restraint in his ability to cooperate with the US in this effort.
The Shah concluded by asking that I convey to Pres. Nixon his personal hope for success of this or subsequent undertakings leading toward peace in Southeast Asia.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 19–8 US-IRAN. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis. Passed Immediate to Saigon.
  2. The Shah responded to the US plea for F–5As by agreeing to relinquish 32 aircraft for delivery to Vietnam, subject to early replacement.