160. Backchannel Message From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to the Ambassador to the Soviet Union (Toon)1

WH81548. For immediate delivery to Ambassador Toon.

At the President’s direction, please transmit the following message for President Brezhnev to Minister Gromyko or as appropriate. Secretary Vance concurs.

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Dear Mr. President:

I have given your private communication of November 17 on events in Iran2 my most careful and thorough attention.

As you know, my government issued a statement Sunday3 which reiterated my firm support for the Shah in his efforts to restore domestic tranquility in Iran, our confidence that Iran can solve its own problems, and the United States’ intention to preserve and pursue with Iran our strong bilateral political, economic, and security relationship. The United States remains fully committed to the independence and integrity of Iran.

The statement also made clear that the United States does not intend to interfere in the internal affairs of any country, and that reports to the contrary are totally without foundation. The statement expressed my expectation that other countries would conduct themselves in similar fashion. In this connection, I took note of your statement in the Pravda interview that the Soviet Union will not interfere in the affairs of Iran and will respect its territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence.

In this connection, some aspects of your letter are troubling to me. I trust it was not your intention to suggest that the incorrect reports to which you refer might be used to justify Soviet interference in Iranian affairs. I am sure you appreciate that any such interference would be a matter of the utmost gravity to us.

It is important that our two countries have made our positions clear and explicit. My views in this letter and in our public statement [Page 491] represent a clear and unambiguous expression of the position of the United States.


Jimmy Carter

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  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 69, USSR: BrezhnevCarter Correspondence: 1–12/78. Secret.
  2. See Document 158.
  3. See Bernard Gwertzman, “Carter Answers Soviet on Iran,” The New York Times, November 20, 1978, p. A1.