Saving Premier Ali Amini

Komer Tells JFK To “Lay Down the Law” (1962)


The Mossadegh Project | January 30, 2020                       


Ali Amini (1905-1992), Prime Minister of Iran


5. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to President Kennedy 1
[Bob Komer to John F. Kennedy]

Washington, July 18, 1962.


Robert W. Komer, National Security Council In the current Iran flap, I urge as strongly as I know how that we base our policy on saving Amini if possible. [Prime Minister Ali Amini]

Whatever his wild charges about lack of US aid (you have the facts from Talbot), he’s the only good PM Iran has had in the last several years and the only one anybody knows of who can carry Iran where we want it to go. [Phillips Talbot, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs] If we return to more of the same in Iran, we’ll face chaos there all too soon. Any successor government will have the same problems, and lack even Amini’s capacity to deal with them.

My guess is that Amini had to turn to blaming the US—the traditional ME [Middle East] scapegoat, because he couldn’t publicly mention the real cause—the Shah’s refusal to back him in cutting the military and civil budget. Our aim should be to get Amini back in, with such backing from the Shah. Instead of Holmes’ policy of standing back and letting Iranians come to us, we ought to go tell them. Our intervention at this crucial moment, risky though it may be, could spell the difference between success and failure. [Julius Holmes, U.S. Ambassador to Iran]

But I don’t think we should bail Amini out with more dough, at least not until after the budget is pared to the irreducible minimum. Instead we ought to tell Iranians that by using oil revenues and some deficit financing, Iran could cover its own budget gap.

My fear is that we won’t make an all-out effort unless you lay down the law.

R. W. Komer 2


[Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XVIII, Near East, 1962–1963 (1995)

Footonotes below from the U.S. State Department Office of the Historian:

1 “Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Staff Memoranda, Robert Komer. Secret. Komer forwarded this memorandum to Bundy on July 18 under cover of a note that reads: “Talbot has already called JFK with aid figures. We’ve given or pledged Amini $87.3 in grants and loans, in contrast to four year average of $59.4. He forgot to tell JFK that Amini’s reference to ‘previous government’ (which probably irked President) was to Amini’s predecessor, not Eisenhower. At any rate, heart of matter is do we sit back and hope for best or try actively to salvage Amini. Spent force or no, he’s still our best bet. Hence the attached.” No indication has been found that the memorandum was forwarded to President Kennedy”

2 “Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.”



Cover Letter from Robert Komer to McGeorge Bundy 1

Washington, July 18, 1962.


Talbot has already called JFK with aid figures. We’ve given or pledged Amini $87.3 in grants and loans, in contrast to four year average of $59.4. He forgot to tell JFK that Amini’s reference to ‘previous government’ (which probably irked President) was to Amini’s predecessor, not Eisenhower. At any rate, heart of matter is do we sit back and hope for best or try actively to salvage Amini. Spent force or no, he’s still our best bet. Hence the attached.

R. W. Komer 2


• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XVIII, Near East, 1962–1963 (1995)

• The above cover letter was attached to the JFK memo above for his National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy. It was not included in the FRUS volume as such, but is presented here based on the 2nd footnote in said memo.


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Related links:

Sherman Kent to Allen Dulles on Iran’s “Serious Financial Problems” (CIA, June 1961)

Pulling the Strings: 1962 Memo Reveals U.S. Feared Shah of Iran’s Fall

Golden Egg Goose Story Repeated [Abd al-Karim Qasim] | Globe-Gazette, Aug. 29 1961



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