Statement on United States Policy in the Persian
September 24, 1987
have today sent the attached letter to the Congress concerning defensive
actions by our Armed Forces taken on September
21 - 22, 1987,
against the Iranian naval vessel Iran Ajr. We regard
this incident as closed and are currently taking steps to repatriate the 26
Iranian survivors and return the bodies of the 3 Iranians killed in the
Presidents over four decades have recognized that the United States has vital interests in
ensuring free world access to the energy resources of the Persian Gulf and in preventing hostile
domination of the Gulf region. Today those interests are threatened by the
Iran-Iraq war and Iran's continued belligerent
behavior in the region.
Iraq has made clear its
willingness, without preconditions, to negotiate an equitable settlement of the
war and to implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 598. To date, Iran has refused to
implement it. Meanwhile, by aggressive military action and terrorism, Iran has continued its
efforts to intimidate the nonbelligerent nations of the Gulf, to close Gulf
waters to neutral shipping, and to export a destabilizing blend of religion and
politics in and even beyond the region. Iranian policies create a threat that
could seriously interrupt freedom of navigation and the free flow of oil in the
these facts, we must continue steadily to pursue our established, three-part
policy in the Gulf:
Bringing ever-increasing international pressure to bear for a negotiated end to
the war and to stop its spillover;
Steadfastly continuing to help our friends, the nonbelligerent nations of the
Gulf, to defend themselves against Iranian threats; and
Prudently pursuing cooperative efforts with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
States and other friends to protect U.S.-flag ships and to prevent Iran from seriously
jeopardizing freedom of nonbelligerent navigation.
overriding aim is peace and stability in the region. We have no interest in
provoking Iran or anyone else,
although we will defend ourselves as necessary. Indeed, the United States hopes that more normal
relations with Iran will evolve as Iranian
belligerence and tensions in the area diminish. We have made these points known
repeatedly to Iran through diplomatic
channels as well as by public statements.
continuation of the Iran-Iraq war is the major cause of increasing tensions in
the Gulf, to which our forces and those of other nations have responded. We
look to the United Nations Security Council for a negotiated settlement to this
war in its entirety through the rapid implementation of U.N. Security Council
Resolution 598 in all its parts. We hope that the Soviet Union will cooperate as the
Council moves to create conditions for such implementation by adopting a second
resolution rather than delaying and seeking opportunities to expand their own
influence at the expense of peace in the region.
success of our policy will depend to a great extent on the consistency and care
with which we carry it out. Our resolve to date has begun to pay off: through
increased European naval contributions to protect freedom of navigation in the
Gulf, through quiet but essential and effective GCC support for our naval
efforts and those of other nations, through diplomatic progress in the U.N.
Security Council, and through deterrence of even more reckless Iranian actions.
We must continue to do our best to protect our interests and to reassure our
friends, as well as our adversaries, of the continued resolve and leadership of
the United States as we move ahead.