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

315754. Subject: US Reply to Soviet Communication of December 4 on Iran. Ref: State 312888.2

1. (S-entire text)

2. You should seek appointment with Gromyko or highest alternative level at Foreign Ministry and deliver following US oral communi[Page 696]cation on Iran in response to that which Soviet Embassy delivered here on December 4.

3. Begin text.

The United States takes note of the Soviet Government’s communication of December 4 reporting Soviet communications to the Iranian leadership in support of the release of the US diplomatic personnel being held hostage in Tehran. We regard such steps as the appropriate and expected response to actions which constitute crude violation of international law and the norms of international conduct.

At the same time we cannot overlook authoritative commentary appearing in Soviet media containing allegations that can only further inflame tensions in Iran and endanger the lives of American hostages being held there. In particular, commentary by A. Petrov appearing in Pravda of December 5 contains inexcusable and irresponsible statements. This commentary all but justifies the seizure of American hostages, by claiming that this act “should not be taken out of the general context of American-Iranian relations” and accusing the United States of attempts to “blackmail” Iran.

Statements such as these contradict the contention in the Soviet Government’s communication of December 4 that its position on these issues is “clear and unequivocal.” If the Soviet Government wishes to contribute to the release of the hostages, as called for on three occasions by the United Nations Security Council, it should cease inflammatory propaganda which can only have the effect of exacerbating the situation. It should also unambiguously urge, in its public statements as well as its private demarches, that US hostages be released immediately and unconditionally. It should also publicly oppose any efforts to place them on trial. Such demonstrable steps would contribute to US-Soviet relations as well as the prompt release of the hostages.

End text.

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Special Adviser to the Secretary (S/MS) on Soviet Affairs Marshall Shulman—Jan 21, 77–Jan 19, 81, Lot 81D109, Box 4, CV/AD, 12/5/79. Secret; Cherokee; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Barry; cleared by Shulman, Raymond Seitz (S/S), and Henry Precht (NEA/IWG); approved by Vance.
  2. See Document 236.