37. Memorandum From the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2


  • One Added Item for Your Farewell Talk with the Shah-10:45 a.m., Thursday, October 23

In addition to other loose ends you may wish to tie up during the Shah’s farewell call, there is one item I have not previously mentioned which might warrant a word.

I am now in the process of staffing out a broad recommendation from John Mitchell and Elliot Richardson on an international effort to bring heroin traffic under control. One of their lesser suggestions is that you say a word to the Shah about this, and I think that makes sense.

The problem is that Iran after a ten-year hiatus has this year resumed production of the opium poppy, the product of which can be converted into morphine base and then into heroin. We urged Iran not to do this, but the Iranians say it can stop only if Turkey and Afghanistan stop. We are already working with Turkey, but Afghanistan is still a problem.

The points you might make are simply that:

  • —Heroin is a major problem for some of our citizens. Some three tons a year are used here.
  • —You are trying hard to bring this under control.
  • —You hope the Shah will lend his support to our efforts internationally to curb sources of supply. You will raise this with Turkish Prime Minister Demirel.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 601, Country Files, Middle East, Iran, Vol. I, 1/20/69–5/31/70. Confidential. According to the President’s Daily Diary, he met with the Shah from 10:55 to 11:17 a.m. on October 23, along with Kissinger, and later, briefly Rogers. No other record of the farewell talk was found. (Ibid., White House Central Files) In Telegram 203729 to Tehran, December 8, the Department requested background information in order to devise a proper approach on Iranian opium production. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, SOC 11–5 IRAN.) In Airgram A–5 to the Department, January 7, 1970, the Embassy reported that the Iranian Council of Ministers had allocated 6200 hectares for poppy planting. (Ibid., INCO DRUGS IRAN.) In telegram 211 from Geneva, January 20, 1970, the U.S. delegation to the UN recommended that the Department refrain from open criticism of Iran’s opium production, hoping that in return Iran might agree not to export its crops. (Ibid.)
  2. Kissinger recommended that Nixon encourage the Shah to aid in U.S. efforts to reduce the global heroin supply.