158. Letter From Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev to President Carter1

Dear Mr. President,

I consider it necessary to use the channel of our private correspondence to draw your attention to the question that causes our growing concern.

The question is of the events in Iran2 and, to be more precise, that according to numerous reports actions are being taken on the part of the United States to influence events in that country. This is confirmed by information from various sources. Information is also coming in about even a possibility of a military interference by the US in Iran. We would not want to believe it. But, unfortunately, it is difficult for us to judge real intentions of the United States, the more so that no denials followed press reports to that effect.

Therefore it is important that there should be no ambiguities in this matter.

Firstly, any interference in the internal affairs of Iran contradicts the principles embodied in the UN Charter3 which must be observed by all states, especially by big powers which bear special responsibility for the destinies of the world. Besides, it would be also appropriate to remind of agreement stated in the Basic Principles of Relations Between the USSR and the US, signed in 1972, that both sides will “do everything in their power so that conflicts or situations will not arise which would serve to increase international tensions” and that “they will seek to promote conditions in which all countries will live in peace and security and will not be subject to outside interference in their internal affairs”.4

Secondly, there should be no misunderstanding that an interference, and especially military, in the affairs of a country which directly borders on the Soviet Union and with which we established normal [Page 487] Zbigniew Brzezinski]good-neighbour relations cannot in general be regarded by us otherwise but as affecting the interests of our security.

We believe that the situation emerging around Iran requires clear and explicit statements to be made on our as well as on your part on nonadmissibility of outside interference in the internal affairs of Iran. It would serve the interests of both our countries as well as Iran itself. On our part we intend to state publicly our position concerning the necessity for all states to refrain from interfering in the developments taking place in Iran.

In our deep conviction in the situation prevailing in Iran and around it it is especially important that the USSR and the US would be strictly guided by the principles of the UN Charter, by the interests of universal peace and international security.

I would appreciate it you give us your position on the question raised by me.


L. Brezhnev5
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 69, USSR: BrezhnevCarter Correspondence: 1–12/78. No classification marking. Printed from an unofficial translation. A handwritten “C” appears in the upper right corner indicating that Carter saw the letter.
  2. On November 6, the Shah appointed a new government under General Gholam Reza Azhari, who enforced martial law and began an anti-corruption campaign in an effort to regain control. (Keesing’s Contemporary Archive, 1979, pp. 29735–29737)
  3. For the text of the U.N. Charter, see Yearbook of the United Nations, 1978, pp. 1185–1194.
  4. See footnote 3, Document 4.
  5. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.