299. Paper Prepared by the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Saunders)1


I spent two hours Thursday morning with Daoudi, Waldheim, and Don McHenry and then another hour alone with Waldheim.2 Waldheim is seriously considering submitting to the Security Council a report from Daoudi to him on Daoudi’s recent mission in Tehran,3 and he would appreciate our views on the pros and cons of doing this.

In the course of our long discussion with Daoudi on his mission, he made the following points:

Ghotbzadeh in talking with Waldheim in Belgrade had apparently agreed to Daoudi’s coming in hopes that announcement of that mission would head off European sanctions. When it did not, he was less than enthusiastic about the mission.

—The departure of the UN Commission from Tehran at the end of March has left a certain bitterness with Iranian officials. Both Bani-Sadr and Ghotbzadeh have developed a mythology about the Commission’s last day there which adds up to the belief that the situation would have been markedly better if the Commission had stayed.

Ghotbzadeh’s main strength derives from his influence with Khomeini, who likes him, supports him, and sees in him the image of his lost son. Ghotbzadeh’s attitude is influenced by two factors, the international attitudes to which he is exposed in situations ranging from the Kreisky visit to the Islamic Conference and the Imam’s change of attitude on the hostages.

—On this last point, Bani-Sadr and Tabatabai both say they sense a change in the attitude of the Imam. His position has now moved [Page 823] to wanting the hostage matter resolved. The Imam reportedly wants no trials.

Ghotbzadeh says the March scenario is a dead letter. With regard to the mandate of the Commission, he continues, as we know, to maintain firmly that the Red Cross visit with the hostages took the place of a visit by the UN Commission.

Beheshti was pleased by the Secretary General’s attention in asking Daoudi to see him. His view is that the hostage issue will be solved by the parliament. He did not want to talk about how the parliament would solve the problem but he spoke of determination to resolve the problem. He said it must be left to the Iranians with no threats, sanctions, or military action.

Bani-Sadr remains committed to finding a solution. He believes that whether the parliament decides or not, the issue will go back to the Imam—either for confirmation or for decision.

Ghotbzadeh very much wants the UN Commission’s report available when the parliament begins to consider the hostage issue. Bani-Sadr did not want the report now. He felt that his enemies would see the Commission’s report simply as a cover-up for the release of the hostages. He felt that premature submission of the report would close out the Commission from a future role as an organ for conducting a dialogue between the U.S. and Iran to resolve the crisis.

—The Iranian authorities have not reached agreement on a plan or on timing for presenting the hostage issue to the parliament. The timing is very much related to resolution of the formation of a cabinet.

Against the background of his assessment, Daoudi said he felt strongly that “something must be done” as a result of his mission. The mission cannot be left as a failure because that would tend to close the door on a future role for the UN. He said he had considered as one option an interim report by the entire Commission, but he had ruled that out as too complicated since it would involve all members of the Commission. He had, therefore, come to a second option, namely submitting his own report on his mission to the Secretary General to serve some of the functions of an interim report. The remainder of our discussion with Daoudi and the bulk of my discussion with Waldheim centered on what might be accomplished by Waldheim’s sending a report from Daoudi to the Security Council.

In outline, a report by Daoudi on his mission would cover the following ground:

—He would describe whom he had seen on his current mission and the instructions he had from Waldheim.

—He would then describe the background of his mission by stating where the previous work of the Commission had left off. He would [Page 824] begin by explaining that the Commission could not fulfill the second part of its mandate because it was unable to see the hostages because of the position the students had taken. He would report that the President and Foreign Minister thought the situation would have improved if the Commission could have stayed longer.

—He would explain that the Commission had observed evidence presented to it on the activities of SAVAK, violations of human rights and other excesses during the reign of the ex-Shah. He would also say that the Commission was informed of grievances held by the Government of Iran about U.S. involvement in Iran.

—He would state that the Commission had, therefore, completed the first part of its mandate but not the second. He would report Ghotbzadeh’s present view that the second half of the mandate had, in effect, been completed by the Red Cross visit to the hostages.

—He would report the Iranian leadership’s repetition to him of its grievances in two areas—the excesses of the Shah’s regime and the involvement of the U.S. in Iran.

—He would report expressions of intent by Iranian leaders to resolve the crisis by peaceful means despite USG efforts to release the hostages by force and economic sanctions. He would report their determination, as described to him, to continue the course of the revolution. He would report emphasis by the Iranians on the importance of avoiding pressure on Iran and the use of force and their hope that the Secretary General would encourage a peaceful solution.

—He would state that the Iranian leaders expect parliament to take up the issue and believe submission of the Commission’s report would be valuable when that takes place. He would report Iranian views that the Commission could resume its work in New York.

—He would conclude by reiterating that Iran’s leadership wishes to reach a solution which will not compromise the basic course of the revolution.

Waldheim’s view is that some such report would serve a useful purpose. He felt that if the UN does nothing it would undermine the UN’s opportunity to play a further role. When I asked Daoudi what purpose such a report could play in the political dynamics of Tehran, he said that the main members of the “team in power” in Iran have to be backed. Involvement of the UN was their idea and should not be seen to be a failure. The Daoudi report would not contain any findings on behalf of the Commission but would simply report what he and the Commission before him had been told.

When we asked whether this would not in some way provide the legitimization of Iranian complaints that the Iranians had been seeking, Waldheim thought not because the report would simply contain what [Page 825] Daoudi and the Commission had been told in broad descriptive categories without passing judgment one way or another or presenting detail.

We will be providing separately our thoughts on this particular question and on how it might relate to other possible initiatives.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 33, Iran Update 6/80. Secret; Sensitive.
  2. June 19. McHenry’s account of the meeting with Daoudi in New York is in telegram 2443 from USUN, June 20. (Department of State, Records of David D. Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Subject Files, 1978–1981, Lot 81D154, Iran NODIS Cables June 1980)
  3. Daoudi was in Tehran May 25–June 16. Waldheim called Muskie on June 16 to report on Daoudi’s mission to Tehran. (Memorandum of conversation, June 16; Department of State, Records of David D. Newsom, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Subject Files, 1978–1981, Lot 81D154, UN and Security Council) Lang’s account of Daoudi’s mission is in his June 16 cable to the Department of State, which is attached to the June 19 Iran Update. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 33, Iran Update 6/80)