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New set of documents offers an unprecedented look into U.S. policy towards Iran

Reposted from the Digital National Security Unredacted blog

ProQuest and The National Security Archive have published a new set of documents offering an unprecedented look into United States policy towards Iran from the Carter administration to the Obama years.

The extensive collection, U.S. Policy toward Iran: From the Revolution to the Nuclear Accord, 1978-2015, covers nearly four decades of a highly volatile relationship that continues to cause tremors in world politics. The extensive breadth and depth of the set encompasses all major events of importance, such as Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s flight from Iran during the revolution which ultimately led to the 444-day hostage crisis, the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988 that continues to shape the narrative of Iran’s rulers, Iran’s explosive internal political scene during the 1990s, and the more recent post 9-11 landscape where terrorism and the nuclear issue have been the main drivers of global concern. The set concludes by focusing on the landmark – albeit short-lived – JCPOA, the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the so-called P5+1. This wide variety of mostly never-before-seen material considers the full range of issues that have divided the two countries since the revolution.

Many of the records in the 1,761-document collection have never been published elsewhere. Among the newly declassified materials in the set are documents on the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal that have not been widely available prior to this publication. The expertly curated set also features other invaluable subsets, such as every available meeting summary of the Special Coordination Committee on Iran during the Carter presidency, every known record of telephone conversation between Gen. Robert Huyser (Carter’s envoy sent to Iran at the height of the revolution in early 1979 to assess the mood of the military) and the Pentagon, and every presidential Executive Order on Iran.

Many of the documents in this collection were obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests or from other relatively obscure sources. They include:

The State Department’s so-called “White Paper” (a previously classified internal history ordered by President Carter in anticipation of proceedings before the World Court)
Warnings from embassy staff in Tehran in mid-1979 regarding admitting the Shah to the United States for medical treatment
Documents relating to the aborted 1980 hostage rescue mission
The previously top-secret version of the Holloway Commission report (investigating the rescue attempt)
Highly confidential, top-level memoranda from the Reagan and Carter administrations
A 1999 letter from President Clinton to President Khatami
A version of the 2003 “Road Map” memo from the Iranians, via the Swiss ambassador, conveying proposals for a comprehensive improvement of relations
A fascinating, formerly classified, internal study for the CIA assessing the failure to predict the Iranian revolution (with accompanying reactions from CIA staff)

Beyond the scope of U.S. Iran policy making, the set also includes materials relating to domestic political developments in each country, as well as the consequences for regional states such as Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. These records will enrich those studying United States policy towards the Middle East, United States crises management, Iranian relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council, and Iranian policies and actives in Afghanistan and Iraq, to name a few.

While covering a wide range of topics, this collection has avoided duplicating any materials from previous Digital National Security Archive publications on Iran, such as Iran: The Making of U.S. Policy 1977-1980, The Iran-Contra Affair: The Making of a Scandal, 1983-1988, Terrorism and U.S. Policy, 1968-2002, and U.S. Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction: From World War II to Iraq. Documents from every principal agency involved in Iran policy are included. Additionally, the set features an array of hard-to-find Iranian source materials in the form of statements, interviews with officials, and occasional memoir accounts, as well as records from the British archives, and elsewhere.

Check out the full DNSA collection or get more details on ProQuest’s website.

16 Dec 2019

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