116. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Christopher to President Carter 1

[Omitted here is information unrelated to the hostage crisis.]

4. Iran. The Swiss Ambassador in Tehran, who saw Ghotbzadeh again Sunday,2 reported that Ghotbzadeh seemed not to know what to do next. He felt we had to wait for a few days for further movement. He confirmed arrangements for the pastoral visit to the hostages that seem generally consistent with our other information. The Ambassador’s personal impression is that the Iranians are organizing a show around the visiting clergymen.

The Italians have expressed on behalf of the other EC–9 countries their concern for their communities in Iran when steps are taken in the UN toward a sanctions resolution. They and the Japanese feel that the Iranian Government and mobs in the street may react against any embassies or communities that support us on the sanctions issue. We [Page 303] will try to give these countries a timetable for our work in New York as soon as the picture is clarified.

There are repeated rumors that two or three hostages may be released in the next day or so. Thus far we have nothing very tangible to give us hope on this score.

We have just had an authoritative report that Arafat has been in touch with Khomeini by emissary. According to the emissary, the thinking in Qom is that there will definitely be a trial of American policy at which the hostages would be present. No harm would be done to them and they would go home after the trial.

5. London Meeting. With respect to the secret London meeting with associates of Khomeini and Admiral Madani which you approved yesterday,3 Hal Saunders is now making plans to fly to London Thursday night for a Friday meeting.4

6. Australia. The Australian Cabinet agreed to support the U.S. to the fullest extent possible on Iran, but decided to continue existing plans for food shipments to Iran, principally wheat and mutton. Very recently, the Iranian Government food purchasing agency asked the AWB for an additional 400,000 tons of wheat. To try to head this off, I am writing to Peacock stating that while we appreciate the importance of food exports to Australia, I hope that nothing will be done that would seem to lessen the impact of measures being taken officially and unofficially in other countries. I pointed out to him that the U.S. would see any substantial increase in Australia’s food exports to Iran or the extension of government credits or insurance to underwrite such shipments as falling in this category.

[Omitted here is information unrelated to the hostage crisis.]

8. Sanctions in the UN . Based on responses to your message to the leaders of Security Council member states and our talks with Ambassadors here, we have the following preliminary assessment of the mood in the Council. (We will know much more after we get reactions to our specific “operative paragraphs”.)5

—Great Britain, France, Norway, Portugal: While we will get some questioning of specific measures or language embodied in the resolution, we expect the full support of our allies.

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USSR/Czechoslovakia: We believe Brezhnev’s response6 was designed to discourage us from proceeding with sanctions or perhaps to cause us to whittle them down to a minimum. We do not feel the response must be read as foretelling a Soviet veto, but we will have to work hard on the Soviets. The Czechs will do as the Soviets do.

—China: China’s response was encouraging. We hope we will have their affirmative vote or, at a minimum, an abstention.

—Bolivia: We have a positive response and should be able to count on Bolivia’s support.

—Jamaica: Reaction was non-committal. Jamaicans will look to other non-aligned on the Council before deciding whether to support sanctions. We put them on the borderline between yes and abstain at this point.

—Kuwait: We do not have a definitive response, but it will be difficult to gain Kuwait’s support given their geographic location and internal situation. We will have to work hard on them even for an abstention.

—Bangladesh: Somewhat more favorably inclined than Kuwait. We will be helped by the work of Bangladesh’s good ambassadors here and in New York. But the most we can probably expect is an abstention.

—Gabon: Initial reaction has been good. France can help us with Gabon.

—Nigeria, Zambia: These are important non-aligned countries and we must have their affirmative votes. We have some reason to be encouraged, but it will take our best efforts.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Box 14. Secret. Carter initialed “C” in the top right corner of the memorandum. Carter was at Camp David December 21–28.
  2. Sunday, December 21.
  3. Carter, who was at Camp David on December 23, spoke to Chirstopher on the telephone from 5:24 to 5:30 p.m. (Carter Library, President’s Daily Diary) No record of the discussion has been found.
  4. December 27 and 28.
  5. A message from Carter to heads of government of Security Council member states asking for support of the U.S. resolution on economic sanctions on Iran was transmitted in telegram 327895 to multiple posts, December 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840163–1578, P840163–1579, N790010–245)
  6. Brezhnev’s reply to Carter’s message is in telegram 27895 from Moscow, December 24. (Carter Library, Plains File, Box 6)