84. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • The Vice President
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Treasury

As the result of the NSC meeting today,2 it was agreed that the following strategy should be pursued with respect to increasing economic pressure on Iran for the release of American hostages.

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The U.S. will seek support from the Governments of Britain, West Germany, France, Switzerland and Japan to encourage their banks to declare cross defaults against Iranian deposits.

Teams of Treasury and State Department officials will be dispatched immediately to these countries to explain our approach.

At the same time the President will send messages directly to the leaders of these countries explaining our general strategy and informing them of the arrival of the U.S. teams. The Secretary of State will follow up with Prime Minister Thatcher, Chancellor Schmidt and President Giscard during his trip to Europe next week.3

The Presidential letter and the Secretary of State’s presentation will make clear that we are asking for this support in order to forestall the necessity of taking more drastic action. The Secretary in particular should make the following points:

—The U.S. is prepared to call for Chapter 7 sanctions in the United Nations and accompany this with a request to our Allies and friends to voluntarily implement a trade embargo against Iran.

—The President will decide when to take this step, but should the Iranians try any of the American hostages, the U.S. will immediately call for Chapter 7 sanctions.

—To the extent that the debate on Chapter 7 sanctions is going forward in a positive way and we receive effective allied support for implementing voluntary economic sanctions on trade with Iran, we will not take direct unilateral measures to interrupt trade with Iran. However, the Secretary should make clear that should this not prove to be the case, the President reserves the right to act unilaterally to interdict commerce with Iran by other means. The Secretary should be explicit in spelling out what means might be employed.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Box 23, Iran, 6/75–12/79. Top Secret. At the top of the memorandum, Carter wrote: “ok, but prepare with Cy more detailed instructions for my approval. Let’s send the msg from me to leaders immediately. Let me see text. J.”
  2. Reference is to the December 4 NSC meeting. See Document 82.
  3. A note in the margin by Carter reads: “Ask cut off of military spare parts, etc.”