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U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman

Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
November 18, 1999

Release of Foreign Relations Volume on Iran, 1964-1968

The Department released today Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, volume XXII, Iran. This volume, part of the ongoing official published record of American foreign policy, presents the documentary record of U.S. policy toward Iran during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Good relations with Iran were a top priority for U.S. policymakers, who agreed on Iran's strategic importance and remained concerned over potential threats to the long-term stability of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi's regime.

The volume documents the administration's policy of support for the Shah and its emphasis on buttressing Iran's internal security by encouraging a far-reaching program of political, social, and economic reform -- the Shah's so-called "White Revolution." Johnson's personal relationship with the Shah was closer than President Kennedy's had been. The two leaders corresponded frequently, and the Shah met with Johnson three times during his presidency.

The only real bone of contention between the two countries was the Shah's seemingly insatiable appetite for more and newer military equipment. His insistence on spending more of Iran's growing oil revenues on weapons conflicted with U.S. policy goals of advocating Iranian economic development and reform as a check against internal upheaval or revolution. The Shah was prepared to buy arms from the Soviet Union until the United States warned him that there would be an adverse U.S. reaction. During subsequent negotiations, the Shah responded to warnings by assuring U.S. representatives that he would not buy sophisticated military equipment from the Soviet Union. In May 1968 the President approved a 6-year, $600 million military credit sales package for Iran, and as the Johnson administration drew to a close, an inter-agency review concluded that the United States should continue to plan on the basis of $100 million in annual U.S. military credits to Iran. Military cooperation with Iran would continue to be a very high priority.

U.S. policymakers' concerns over the stability of the Shah's regime increased during this period, especially after an upsurge of anti-Americanism and opposition to the government beginning in October 1964. Following the arrest and exile of dissident religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini in November, some U.S. analysts warned that Khomeini's views were symptomatic of widespread popular opposition to the government.


U.S. Department of State
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs

November 18, 1999

Release of Foreign Relations Volume on Iran, 1964-1968

During the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, good relations with Iran were a top priority for U.S. policymakers, who agreed on Iran's strategic importance and remained concerned over potential threats to the long-term stability of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi's regime. Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, volume XXII, Iran, released today by the Department of State, documents the administration's policy of support for the Shah and its emphasis on buttressing Iran's internal security by encouraging a far-reaching program of political, social, and economic reform -- the Shah's so-called "White Revolution." Johnson's personal relationship with the Shah was closer than President Kennedy's had been. The two leaders corresponded frequently, and the Shah met with Johnson three times during his presidency.

The only real bone of contention between the two countries was the Shah's seemingly insatiable appetite for more and newer military equipment. His insistence on spending more of Iran's growing oil revenues on weapons conflicted with U.S. policy goals of advocating Iranian economic development and reform as a check against internal upheaval or revolution.

In January 1964 the Shah wrote the President that the 1962 U.S. Five-Year Military Plan for Iran had already proved inadequate. During subsequent discussions of a military modernization program, U.S. officials continued to emphasize the importance of ensuring that such a program would not hamper Iran's economic development, while the Shah insisted that increased oil revenues would make it possible to pay for increased defense expenditures without impairing Iran's economic progress. In July 1964 the U.S. Government agreed to a new Memorandum of Understanding on military modernization. U.S. policymakers remained concerned over potential threats to the Shah's regime, but Embassy and intelligence reports in early 1964 indicated that no clearly identifiable threat to Iran's internal security was likely to develop in the near future, except in the event of the demise or abdication of the Shah. An upsurge of anti-Americanism and opposition to the government came in October 1964, however, when the Iranian Parliament passed a status of forces bill granting U.S. military personnel stationed in Iran and their dependents full diplomatic immunity. Following the arrest and exile of dissident religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini in November, some U.S. analysts warned that Khomeini's views were symptomatic of widespread popular opposition to the government.

Faced with the possibility of forced withdrawal from the U.S. intelligence facilities in Pakistan, the President ordered in August 1965 that the U.S. Government proceed urgently to develop alternative facilities in the region. Top U.S. intelligence authorities subsequently concluded that Iran was technically the most suitable site for relocation of most of this activity. On May 30, 1966, NSAM No. 348 ordered that contingency alternatives in Iran be established.

In November 1965 the Shah began to push for a $200 million augmentation of Iran's military purchases. Subsequent discussions within the administration, during which the U.S. Ambassador to Iran and the CIA warned that the Shah was prepared to go elsewhere for arms purchases, resulted in Presidential approval in May 1966 of $200 million in new arms sales to Iran over a 4-year period. During subsequent negotiations, the Shah responded to warnings that there would be an adverse U.S. reaction to military procurement from the Soviet Union by assuring U.S. representatives that he would not buy sophisticated military equipment from the Soviet Union.

In November 1967 the Shah wrote the President concerning a new projected 5-year plan for reorganization of Iran's armed forces, and in May 1968 the President approved a 6-year, $600 million military credit sales package for Iran. The Shah continued to stress that in order to plan militarily, he needed assurances from the United States that it would be able to meet his needs over the next few years. U.S. officials made it plain that the U.S. political situation precluded long-term commitments, but that military cooperation with Iran would continue to be a very high priority. As the Johnson administration drew to a close, an inter-agency review concluded that the United States should continue to plan on the basis of $100 million in annual U.S. military credits to Iran.

The Office of the Historian has prepared a summary of the volume. For further information, contact David S. Patterson, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series at (202) 663-1127; fax: (202) 663-1289; e-mail: [email protected]. The texts of the volume and the summary are available on the Historian's Office web site. Copies of volume XXII can be purchased from the Government Printing Office.




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