Military cooperation between Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and US

What you read below is part of the book "The Pahlave Regime’s Suppression Power and the Islamic Revolution” published by the Islamic Revolution Documents Center. This part attends to some instances of military cooperation between the Iranian monarchy and the United States.

The military cooperation between Mohammad Reza and the US should be discussed against two backgrounds:

First, the United States’ military aids to the Pahlai shah, which were later replaced with the Shah’s purchase of military equipment and weapons from the US.

Second, the presence of American advisors in Iran and the issue of capitulation.

In the years 1953 to 1961 the total volume of the US military aid to Iran reached $436 million, which was half the amount paid by the US to other countries. All these came pro bono.

All in all, what has turned into a constant dread to the Pahlavi regime was how to protect its existence, which it sought to achieve via military power. However, a final decision to improve the country’s military power was not adopted until early 1957. The United States’ military aids stopped in 1969, that is when it was decided that as a big oil exporter, Iran was able to pay for its military expenditure.

Military ties between the two countries underwent great change during these years. In early 1950s Iran was dependent on US military aid. This is while in the mid- 1970s, the foreign military sales to the government had overshadowed other issues. The incoming flow of arms to Iran saw a huge rise after oil prices hiked in 1974. In the fiscal year 1950 to 1979, the US sold Iran worth $11.2 billion arms to Iran. Of that, 10.7 went to weapons that had been actually delivered. This came along with the presence of a great number of US advisors in Iran, which left big impacts on the Iranian armed forces.

Iran’s dependence on US arms entailed dependence on logistic systems as well as spare parts as well, since the presence of technical advisors was necessary to maintaining and even operating these equipment. Even Jimmy Carter who found his way to the White House with the motto of care for human rights, underlining it as the spirit of his foreign policy, and in the early days said pointed things about the Iranian ruling power, later on said in his official instructions that the sale of arms will be a unique tool for foreign policy, which should be used only on occasions to show explicitly that the transfer of arms was in the interest of the American nation.

Between the years 1970 and 1978, Iran turned into the largest importer of arms from the US. During that time, about $20 billion, tantamount to 25 percent of the total order for arms received by the US, belonged to Iran.

Of that amount, only $9 billion had been delivered to Iran. The rest was cancelled by the government of the Islamic Republic after the revolution.

What is of great importance here is not only the volume and value, but the level of sophistication and the technology transfer. Although Washington did not use to be interested in selling Iran high-tech arms, after the Nixon Doctrine, the US provided Iran with its most modern military equipment during the years 1972 to 1979. These included fighters F14 and F16. Iran did not only receive stupendous amounts of arms and equipment during these years, it also received the knowhow to produce them.

On the other front, the presence of US military advisors in Iran, it can be said that Mohammad Reza was one hundred percent dependent on the US. The flow of modern arms to Iran entailed the need for the education of officers who would be able to use them, which entailed the presence of advisors to teach them. Accordingly, the US Defense Department and the companies manufacturing the arms sent delegations to Iran.

After the 1953 coup US advisors flew to Iran in large numbers.

Two things help the number of aids in Iran grow. One was the capitulation law passed by the national assembly of Iran. The plan was put to action in early 1950 after US forces were dispatched to NATO member states. According to agreements in these countries, the right to judge the American military staff who had committed crimes in these countries would have been carried out with bilateral arrangements and cooperation. Therefore, if the US did not resign to a court hearing of the crime, the host country would pursue the case according to its own domestic rules. However, the exact opposite law was passed in Iran, according to which, Iran was deprived of the right to legally pursue the American aids that had committed crimes in the Iranian territory.

The second factor was the multiple- time increase of oil prices in the 1970s, which facilitated the purchase of large quantities of arms by Iran from the US. As arms flew in Iran, so did the aids that were to teach their technical aspects. The number of the advisors reached 6 thousand in 1972. It soared to 24 thousand in 1976, and was predicted to hit 50 thousand in 1980, only for the Islamic revolution.

The large amounts of salary that these advisors would take indicates how much of the Iranian nation’s money used to go into their pockets. Therefore, it can be summarized as not only did Mohammad Reza give away Iranian oil money to buy arms and military equipment from the US, the US advisors took away Iranian petrodollars as salaries they had received.