71. Telegram 87985 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran1 2

For Ambassador from Sisco


  • Tehran 2333
We concur fully in reassurances you gave Acting Foreign Minister Khalatbari as well as expression of our belief that there no conceivable advantage to British conniving with Iraq to Iran’s disadvantage. We consider London’s 4351 excellent statement on latter point and general UK attitude toward Gulf and you authorized draw on it as seems appropriate. In reconfirming assurances you have already given Iranians you may also wish to draw attention to fact that it was only two months ago that you reconfirmed in writing and on instruction USG continued adherence to the validity of the US-Iranian bilateral of March 5, 1959. You may also cite our move into Cambodia as clear evidence our resolve and ability to act when we [Page 2]believe our interests affected. This step was taken in the full realization that it would not meet with full public approval. We believe that the conclusion the other side will draw from this is clear notwithstanding the heightened public debate it has generated in the United States.
While it is possible Soviets sought remind hosts of more favorable aspects of 1921 Soviet/Iran Treaty which replaced onerous and distasteful Czarist conventions, it is far more likely that Soviets have developed some suspicion that US intends to move in behind British after UK withdraws from Gulf in 1971. Pursuing this line of thought Soviets may have speculated US may ask Iran for military base facilities. Reminding Iranians of 1921 Treaty would, of course, put Iran on notice as to what Soviet reaction likely to be. This would be consistent with earlier Soviet behavior when it trotted out 1921 Treaty in attempt to force Iran to sign nonaggression pact in [Page 3]early 1960’s. Soviets also mentioned it when it was in process of obtaining Iranian assurances that no American missiles would be stationed on Iranian soil.
Finally, it is probably also a Soviet reminder that the Soviets can be difficult if the occasion requires.
While we agree with Iran that there is no room for complacency, we nonetheless do not believe that Soviet power and influence in the Middle East or the Gulf should be overdrawn. Soviet relations with Syria and Iraq, for example, are not uniformly harmonious or entirely to Soviet liking. Both countries have demonstrated decidedly independent attitudes when the Soviets appear to become too overbearing. Further, indigenous Communist political parties have had anything but unqualified success. Indeed there are recent reports of anti-communist activities by governments of both countries with arrests being made of a number of Communist Party members. We believe, therefore, that Soviet efforts to become arbiters of Gulf and [Page 4]entire Middle East face formidable obstacles not only from strong moderate countries such as Iran but also from indigenous forces in countries where it has already established a substantial presence.
Hope you agree point to be made is that we are resolved to stand by our commitments, to support our friends, and we have great confidence in Iran’s own ability withstand Soviet blandishments or thinly veiled threats.


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL IRAN-USSR. Secret; Exdis; Noforn. Drafted by Miklos; cleared by Emory C. Swank (EUR), Irving Cheslaw (EUR/BMI), Davies; Richard W. Murphy (NEA/ARP), Bryan H. Baas (NEA/ARN), and Brown (S/S); and approved by Sisco. In Telegram 2506 from Tehran, June 13, MacArthur advised that the British be urged to reach an agreement with Iran over the Gulf islands, so as to prevent an Arab-Iranian rupture. MacArthur recommended that the British put forward a reasonable arrangement that, while not impairing the Sheikhs’ legal claims to the islands, would meet Iran’s basic security requirements. If the British did so, MacArthur suggested that the United States use its influence informally to persuade Iran to blur the issue of sovereignty. (Ibid., POL 33 Persian Gulf) In Telegram 93548 to Tehran, June 15, Sisco agreed. (Ibid.)
  2. The Department endorsed the Ambassador MacArthur’s reassurances regarding British intentions, and considered Soviet moves as anti-U.S. rather than anti-Iranian.