85. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2
- Memo from Mr. Helms on Iran
Dick Helms has sent you the attached memo [2 lines not declassified].
Essentially Ambassador MacArthur has [less than 1 line not declassified] convey his concern that certain bureaucratic turnings in Washington might undercut what the Shah believes is a commitment by the President to provide a substantial number of F4 and C130 aircraft. Mr. Helms writes out of his concern for the continuation of our unique intelligence collection facilities in Iran [less than 1 line not declassified]. The bureaucratic state of play is that the Defense Department has asked the intelligence community to do a SNIE on the military threat to Iran. This is somewhat like the Arab-Israeli situation in that the visible threat is probably not great enough to justify as much hardware as the Shah wants. However, the Shah is building not just a military establishment suited to the threat, but a deterrent as well.
An effort is already being made to broaden the framework of the SNIE so that it will not turn out to be so limited as to make it more difficult for us to operate from a broader view of the situation. However, the SNIE by itself obviously will not make policies. The decision on the number of planes to be sold will be made over the next couple of months, and we will have a crack at it in the normal bureaucratic machinery. Essentially, this decision will be made with the President’s general commitment in mind, although not perhaps without some argument.
In passing on the attached memo, therefore, I simply want to reassure you that I am on top of this problem and will continue to work—along with Joe Sisco—to make sure that the President’s general promise is not undercut.[Page 2]
The broader problem with Iran, of course, is that as long as the military credit program is held up we will not have the assistance of Iran that will permit it to proceed with financial confidence.[Page 3]
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 601, Country Files, Middle East, Iran, Vol. II, 6/17/70–12/70. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for information. Kissinger wrote on the memo, “Make sure this is followed.”↩
- Saunders passed along to Kissinger a memorandum from Helms, in which Helms reinforced MacArthur’s concern that bureaucratic wrangling in Washington would imperil the Shah’s aircraft purchases and thus put U.S. intelligence facilities in Iran at risk.↩