236. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Soviet Union1

312888. Subject: Soviet Statement on Iran.

1. (C-entire text).

2. Ambassador Dobrynin passed to Secretary Vance afternoon of December 4 text of following Soviet Government message on situation in Iran.

3. Begin text.

The Soviet Union holds a clear and unequivocal position in connection with the conflict existing between the United States and Iran. As the Soviet side has already stated, we consistently stand for a just settlement of the conflict to mutual satisfaction of both sides. The Soviet representative in the Security Council underscores the necessity to strictly observe the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations by all the countries.

Moscow has also considered it advisable to inform President Carter and the US Government confidentially that we communicated to the Iranian leadership through the diplomatic channels our advice to avoid further aggravation of the situation and spoke out for the release of the US diplomatic personnel2 in Tehran and allowing them to leave for the United States. We drew attention of the Iranian leadership to the circumstances that the detention of foreign diplomats as hostages contradicts the obligations under the international convention, to which Iran is a party. We expressed the opinion that the release of the US Embassy personnel would be met favorably in the world and would not be detrimental to Iran.

We have not yet received Iranian reaction to our communication. We believe, however, in any case, it will contribute to a relaxation of tension and will work in the direction of resolving the conflict. We hope that such our position will be duly appreciated by the President and the Government of the United States.

[Page 695]

Moscow expects that the US leadership on its part will show restraint and composure. One should take into consideration that the developments in Iran are of a very complicated nature. As is known, they represent entanglement of numerous political, economic, and religious factors. As a result, passions are raging high there.

The Soviet leadership and L.I. Brezhnev personally are convinced that under the circumstances it is especially important not to yield to emotions, to display restraint. We say this because various sorts of disquieting reports are appearing also with reference to US officials on a possibility of some actions on the part of the United States with regard to Iran which are far from a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

We hope that the US leadership and President Carter personally will understand rightly these considerations of ours prompted by realistic motivations. It is clear that a conflict in relations between any two countries carries an element of a dangerous tension, not only for both of them. And, in this case, such a risk is the more considerable since one of the parties to the existing dispute is a big power.

We would like to especially point out that we express these considerations as if from aside, but naturally for understandable reasons we cannot be indifferent to what is going on.

End text.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 119, 12/1–7/79. Confidential; Sensitive; Cherokee; Immediate; Nodis. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Mark Parris (EUR/SOV); cleared by Arnold L. Raphel (S), Sherrod McCall (EUR/SOV), Carl Clement (IWG), Richard Combs (S/MS), and Bremer; approved by Barry. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840131–1900)
  2. Reference is to the 52 U.S. diplomats taken hostage on November 4 at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.