208. Telegram From the Embassy in Switzerland to the Department of State1

1463. For the President and Secretary. Subj: Second Meeting With B and V Revised Scenario.

1. S–Entire text.

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2. Please pass to the White House Eyes Only for the President and Dr. Brzezinski.

3. In order to focus discussion on how the situation in Tehran can evolve relating to the hostages and the work of the UN Commission, we developed the middle and final stages of the scenario as a basis for discussions in Washington, Tehran, and New York on how to proceed. You will have an opportunity to study the revised scenario in Washington Friday and Saturday.2 V is planning to return to Tehran Sunday. One possible action for Friday is discussed below.

4. Begin text of revised scenario.

Scenario—Second Revision

I. Principles and Procedures

The United States and Iran renew their commitment to resolve the crisis between them through completion of the previously agreed scenario.3 The following is a suggested development of events in the days ahead:

II. Transfer of the Hostages (Objective: March 15–25)

A. March 15 or 16: Election results are announced.

B. March 16: V returns to Tehran with a personal message from Jordan to Bani Sadr4 which would make the following points:

—President Carter appreciates President Bani Sadr’s message stating that the transfer of the hostages to the control of the Revolutionary Council would take place no later than March 25.5

—President Carter appreciated this direct communication and has asked Jordan to discuss with B and V agreed steps that could be taken to make possible an early end of the crisis between the two countries and also ask them to report to President Bani Sadr steps that the US has taken.

—The US is prepared to continue restraint in its public posture for a few more days, despite the increase in public pressure for it to adopt stronger measures.

—The US has urged the UN Commission to complete its work and to be prepared to return to Iran to do so in coordination with the Iranian authorities. Until the time is right, we have urged the Commission also to maintain restraint in its public posture.

—When the hostages are transferred, the US will regard that as a clear indication of President Bani Sadr’s willingness to continue, [Page 546]through the series of agreed reciprocal steps, the process to allow an early end to the crisis, including release of all 53 Americans now held in Tehran.

—The US looks forward to a period beyond the present difficulties when we can build a relationship with Iran and its people based on equality and mutual respect.

C. March 15–17: The Commission would limit its public statements to an announcement that it is reviewing the material collected. But, in private messages to Bani Sadr and Ghotbzadeh, the Commission would recall in particular that it will be unable to complete its report until it has seen all the hostages, and that it will be ready to return to Tehran as soon as the Iranian authorities indicate to it the date and the conditions under which the visit can take place. As the Commission discussed with Bani Sadr, it would suggest that the visit take place between March 21–25 and could ask the Foreign Minister to place at its disposal all the remaining documents it wishes to submit to the Commission.

D. Transfer of the hostages to the authority of the Foreign Ministry and of the Revolutionary Council.

III. The Return of the Commission to Tehran (Objective: March 21–25)

(The following would be agreed in advance by Bani Sadr, Ghotbzadeh, and the Commission.)

A. On arriving, the Commission would state: It has returned to complete its mission. It has asked the Foreign Ministry to place all remaining evidence at its disposal.

B. The Foreign Minister, as the Imam requested, would collect all remaining documents and enable the Commission to examine them.

C. The Commission would meet with the Revolutionary Council to set forth the facts invoked by Iran, to state that it indeed has received elements of evidence relating to these facts, and that within days it will be able to present a report to the Secretary-General giving the findings and recommendations that it has been able to derive from the evidence presented.

D. The Revolutionary Council would make a statement on its meeting with the Commission.

E. The Commission would then visit each of the hostages under the conditions which the Commission will prescribe.

F. The Commission would make another report to the Revolutionary Council on the conditions of the hostages. It would also tell the Revolutionary Council that the credibility of its report would be seriously limited unless the hostages are released. It would ask Iran to set a date for releasing the hostages and would commit itself to publish its report on that date. (The simultaneity indicated in the last sentence is subject to review as the final stages are revised.)

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IV. Final Steps (Objective: Ten days after transfer)

The previous scenario agreed to by both parties envisioned a final stage of reciprocal steps leading to release of the Americans held in Tehran.

However, the sequence of steps envisioned then has changed because in the new circumstances the Commission will return to Iran after the Revolutionary Council has taken custody of the American personnel. Because of recent developments, the final steps of the scenario agreed earlier seem no longer to be completely applicable. If that assumption is not correct, the US is prepared to abide by the previously agreed scenario.

If the final steps of the earlier scenario can no longer be followed, it is necessary for both parties to agree on the steps in a new final stage. In these new circumstances, the United States believes that the components of the final stage—including the report of the United Nations Commission, the statements of Presidents Carter and Bani Sadr, the establishment of an Iran-US joint commission to resolve bilateral issues, and the release of all 53 Americans—should be taken simultaneously. It is also the position of the United States that the release of the hostages should take place no later than 10 days after the transfer of the American personnel. End text.

5. The one possible action the Secretary might wish to discuss with SYG Waldheim Friday while members of the Commission may still be in New York is the possible message from the Commission described in para IIC of the scenario above. They could at least talk it over with a view to authorizing the co-chairmen to send it Sunday or Monday to arrive in Tehran shortly after the election results are available and when the US message arrives in Tehran Sunday.6

6. A draft of the message mentioned in para IIB of the scenario is being carried back to Washington Friday morning.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Plains File, Box 7. Secret; Immediate; Nodis; Cherokee; Special Encryption.
  2. March 14 and 15.
  3. See Document 180.
  4. See Document 209.
  5. See footnote 4, Document 207.
  6. Brzezinski informed Carter that he thought it “doubtful that we can side-step” Khomeini’s public declarations against release of the hostages. He found the scenario to have “an unrealistic quality in not factoring in student resistance, the Ayatollah’s, the Parliament, etc.” and added “we will be setting ourselves up for another fall which will leave the hostages still in Tehran and could damage you seriously politically.” He concluded that Bani-Sadr is “stringing us along.” (Memorandum from Brzezinski to Carter, March 14; Carter Library, Plains File, Box 10)