118. Summary of Conclusion of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Iran


  • State

    • Secretary Cyrus Vance
    • Warren Christopher
    • David Newsom
    • Harold Saunders
  • Defense

    • W. Graham Claytor
    • Robert Komer
  • JCS

    • General David Jones
    • General John Pustay
  • CIA

    • Admiral Stansfield Turner
    • Frank Carlucci
  • Energy

    • Secretary Charles Duncan*
    • (Justice not represented)
  • Treasury

    • Anthony Solomon*
    • Robert Mundheim*
  • White House

    • Stuart Eizenstat*
    • Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • David Aaron
  • NSC

    • Colonel William Odom
    • Gary Sick

*Domestic issues only


Domestic Issues:

1. Hostages. We are confident that our list of the hostages is accurate within one or two names. Fifty hostages is the best estimate, although it is conceivable that there might be another private individual who happened to be in the embassy at the time of the takeover whose name has not yet surfaced, or even that someone escaped and is in hiding. The clergymen visiting the embassy on Christmas had a number of different lists of numbers of hostages actually seen, but it is certain that they saw no more than 43 hostages, perhaps fewer.2 We will be able to tie this down more firmly once they have been debriefed. A student at the embassy last night on the telephone referred to 50 hostages. State will prepare a chart showing the most recent evidence we have about each of the hostages since the takeover occurred. It would not be advisable to base a public initiative too heavily on the clergymen’s visit until we have a better understanding of what they did and who they saw. We also wish to insure that the private nature of the clergy visit is understood. These men were chosen by the Iranians, they had no official status, and we have no control over what they may say on their return. Secretary Vance will talk to the clergymen as soon as they return. (S)

2. Economic Steps. Treasury will prepare an updated matrix for the President showing what each of the allies has agreed to and what steps are actually being implemented. We have full agreement on all items of the package except government guidance to private banks about Iranian defaults. Full implementation will begin on December 27, although the French say they will not complete their guidance to their banks until January 2. On the issue of public disclosure, the allies agreed that if and when leaks occur, the government would officially confirm that “measures of cooperation” had been implemented, without being specific. In some ways, a non-specific statement is preferable since the actions are primarily technical and would not have major public impact. France has insisted that it wants to say only that allied [Page 308] consultations were undertaken. Treasury will lean on them heavily today and State will assist as required to bring them in line with the others. All agreed that a backgrounder would be desirable on Friday,3 placing emphasis on the less sensitive areas of cooperation which support the dollar (paying only dollars for oil, etc.) but indicating that a package of steps had been accepted. (S)

3. Chapter VII Sanctions. The resolutions will not be presented to the UN before Friday or Saturday, after more consultations are completed. Secretary Vance will make the presentation to the Security Council in person to dramatize its importance. The SCC discussed at some length the President’s decision that we ask the allies to begin implementing sanctions from the moment we ask for them at the UN. The group agreed that the allies would be extremely reluctant to take such action without a vote in the UN, and our initiative could well be perceived as a quick failure. By comparison, the SCC believed it would be much better to put our allies on notice at a high level, at the time we make our official presentation, that we would expect them to institute sanctions if the UN should fail to act. That would give the allies a strong motivation to work hard for a successful vote in the Security Council. The SCC agreed that, with the President’s approval, Secretary Vance will prepare a strong Presidential message along these lines for tomorrow’s meeting.4 (S)

4. Emissary to Europe. The SCC agreed that our efforts to get agreement from the Europeans on technical steps had been successful and the follow-up did not require a high-level official present in Europe. Although the SCC had previously recommended a visit to Europe by Tony Solomon, it now appears that the issues which will need discussion with the allies relate primarily to political decisions surrounding action on Chapter VII, rather than detailed discussions with finance ministers. An alternative would be to send a high-level Presidential emissary for talks with heads of state. Secretary Vance wanted to reflect on the desirability of such a mission. He will make a recommendation to the President this evening.5 (S)

5. Iranian Diplomats. The Iranian diplomats affected by our departure order have been removed from the diplomatic list. They have 30 days to take care of their personal arrangements, which are complicated by the fact that some of them are married to American citizens or are themselves American citizens.

[Page 309]

Political-Diplomatic Issues:

1. AWACS. The aircraft will take off from Egypt at 5:00 p.m. EST today. There will be no announcement of the flight. The Egyptians now indicate a strong interest in joint training exercises with the AWACS on about January 4–5. Although the JCS had originally planned to send the AWACS to Germany shortly after the flight this week, they now propose letting the AWACS remain in Egypt for joint training in early January, followed by a movement to Germany. After the visit to Germany, the AWACS can either return to the U.S. or extend the visit, depending on the situation at the time.6 (S)

2. Intelligence Actions. Admiral Turner said that the Agency is increasing its contacts with various Iranian figures. It was still too early to identify a group of opposition figures who might coalesce into an effective opposition to Khomeini. Rumors about Madani’s opposition to Khomeini are so widespread that the DCI wonders how long he will be able to maintain his present position as governor of Khuzestan and head of the Iranian Navy. As contacts increase, the Agency Iran Task Force will meet with the David Aaron group to examine political implications and possibilities of next steps. Admiral Turner emphasized that this process of feeling out possible opposition figures takes time, and we should not expect results in a few days. Mr. Carlucci added a note of caution that our push for sanctions on Chapter VII is convincing many of the Western governments to reduce their representation in Tehran. [2½ lines not declassified]

3. Shah. The latest blood test indicates that the Shah’s health is deteriorating. A team of doctors will fly to Panama today to examine him and determine what the next steps should be. A transfusion is the minimum expected, and further surgery may be required. Secretary Vance felt that the Shah’s condition was becoming dangerous. The Panamanians want any medical treatment to be performed in Panamanian hospitals, rather than U.S. facilities. The team of doctors is aware of this and will make a recommendation. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box 107. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Carter wrote “Zbig, J” in the upper right corner.
  2. See Document 117.
  3. December 28.
  4. Carter approved this item with a checkmark and initialed in the right margin.
  5. In the left margin, Carter wrote “not done.”
  6. Carter approved this item with a checkmark.