Russian Report on 1980 'October Surprise' Caseas follows
This document -- a "confidential" cable from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow -- is a translation of a report sent on Jan. 11, 1993, from the national security committee of the Russian legislature to a U.S. House task force that was then investigating the so-called "October Surprise" controversy.
That case centered on allegations that, during the summer and fall of 1980, the Reagan-Bush campaign conducted secret negotiations with Iran's Islamic fundamentalist government, which was holding 52 Americans hostage. The lingering crisis sapped President Jimmy Carter's political strength and cleared the way for Ronald Reagan's historic victory. The hostages were freed immediately after Reagan became President.
The Russian assistance was requested on Oct. 21, 1992, by the House task force chairman, Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind. The Russian report asserted that the allegations of secret Republican negotiations with Iran were true. But the Russian report was never released by the task force, whose public findings reached the opposite conclusion.
Reporter Robert Parry found the Russian report among files belonging to the House task force in December 1994 and made these copies on a copier in a Capitol Hill storage room. For easier reading, we have typed out the contents of the Russian report, without the Embassy's coding and introduction, in a separate file.
Chairman of the Working Group of the House Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Congress, Lee G. HamiltonNormally I wouldn't quote something this long unless I wanted to comment on each little bit of it, or unless I considered it especially valuable.
Dear Mr. Lee G. Hamilton:
With excuses for the lengthy preparation of the response to your appeal, I am sending you the material in our possession which, as we hope, may help you in your work.
Secretary of the Committee, People's Deputy of the RF N. Kuznetsov
On the supply of American arms to Iran according to available information, the Chairman of the R. Reagan election campaign, William Casey, in 1980 met three times with representatives of the Iranian leadership, in particular with the arms dealers Djamshed and Kurosh Hashemi. The meetings took place in Madrid and Paris. At the meeting in Paris in October 1980, in addition to Casey, R. Gates, at that time a staffer of the National Security Council in the administration for Jimmy Carter and former CIA Director George Bush also took part.
In Madrid and Paris, the representatives of Ronald Reagan and the Iranian leadership discussed the question of possibly delaying the release of 52 hostages from the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, taken hostage by Iranian "students" and members of the "Corps of Defense of the Islamic Revolution" on 4 November 1979 until after the elections that took place in November 1980. In exchange for this, the American representatives promised to supply arms to Iran. This was asserted, in particular, by a former Israeli intelligence agent, Ari Ben-Menash, a Jew born in Iran and arrested in 1989 in the U.S. for supplying arms to Iran (arrested in California on charges of exporting contraband C-130 aircraft from the U.S. to Iran and who was in prison for 11 months and then freed). According to his calculation, the total value of the arms illegally delivered to Iran reached 82 billion dollars.
Data on attempts by the R. Reagan team to temporarily block the release of American hostages in Teheran are also contained in official statements of several Iranian figures, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Gotb-Zade in September 1980.
As terms for the release of the hostages Iran at that time proposed the unblocking of Iranian accounts in the USA, the return of the funds of the Shah and his family, the lifting of the economic blockade of Iran and the end of the embargo on supplies to Iran of spare parts for previously purchased American arms.
On the other hand, there has also appeared evidence that in 1980 there also took place negotiations between representatives of the Carter administration and the Iranian leadership, in the course of which the question of secret supplies to Iran of American arms and spare parts, the release of the American hostages and the unblocking of Iranian accounts was discussed. Thus, in July 1980 in the city of Athens, a delegation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) including Deputy Defense Minister Farivara, General Faroh-Zade, Colonel Veisi, Foreign Minister representative Etminana met with representatives of the Pentagon. An agreement in principle was reached on the supply of arms and spare parts for American weapons in Iran's possession.
In July 1980 in Athens, representatives of Washington and Teheran discussed a possible step-by-step normalization of Iranian-American relations, the provision of support for President Carter in the election campaign via the release of American hostages.
In accord with Athens agreement, in October 1980 a significant quantity of spare parts for F-4 and F-5 aircraft and also M-60 tanks were sent to Iran via Turkey. The Democrats, like the Republicans, started from the proposition that Imam Homeini, having announced a policy of "neither the West nor the East," and cursing the "American Devil," imperialism and Zionism, was forced to acquire American weapons, spares and military supplies by any and all possible means.
Military experts noted that, immediately after Islamic revolution in Iran, the government was faced with a sharp deficit of arms, spares, and military supplies with which to cut down the uprising of Iranian Kurds and carry out the war with Iraq that began in September 1980. The Iranian army in this period was based on Western, mostly American and British, arms, and the Air Force was totally equipped with U.S. planes.
The need for immediate supplies of arms and military equipment was also explained by the fact that after the revolution in Iran large orders for weapons deliveries to Iran of a total value of about 10.5 billion dollars were annulled.
In accord with the evaluation of sources in military circles, supplies of spare parts and military supplies from the U.S. through Israel which began in 1980 allowed the Iranian Air Force to carry out combat activities.
After the victory of R. Reagan in the election, in early 1981 a secret agreement was reached in London in accord with which Iran released the American hostages, and the U.S. continued to supply arms, spares and military supplies for the Iranian army. The organization of the deliveries was undertaken by Colonel of the General Staff of the IRI Domkan, and "Mossad" Colonel Yakus Marvidi. The latter played his part as the owner of a private firm buying arms of American production on the black market.
In March-April 1981, planes carried from Israel to Iran spares for the F-14 fighter and other military equipment. Through the Israeli conduit, Iran in 1983 bought surface-to-surface missiles of the "Lance" class plus artillery of a total value of 135 million dollars.
In July 1983 a group of specialists from the firm "Lockheed" went to Iran on English passports to repair the navigation systems and other electronic components on American-produced planes.
In 1985, supplies of arms from the U.S. to Iran via Israel took on a large-scale character. The arms were sent by planes and ships. 200 "Hawk" anti-aircraft missile systems and 2,000 "Tow" anti-tank missiles were sold to Iran. According to subsequent information, the Tow and Hawk missiles allowed the Iranian army to oppose the numerically superior tank units and air force of Iraq.