Mr. ASPIN: Mr. Secretary, let me just for a little bit go over a few of these
issues and then maybe I will reserve some of my time.
Let me ask a little bit about the policy that was undertaken and
your attitude towards that policy. I take it that you, based upon
your reaction to that NSDD that was circulated, the draft that was
circulated in 1985, that your opposition to this policy was opposition to the whole idea, not just to the opposition to the arms sales.
Secretary WEINBERGER: Oh, yes. I thought it, first of all, was not
possible to get a better relationship with Iran, with the Iranian
Government in its present hands. I didn't think there was anybody
we could deal with that was not virulently anti-American, and I
just didn't think it would work and I was, as you say, against the
Mr. ASPIN: Now, this is different
Secretary WEINBERGER: I did add a word in my comment to the
effect it would be good if we could get a relationship with Iran as
we used to have it under the Shah. It would be desirable to try to
do something like that, but we couldn't do it with this situation.
Mr. ASPIN: Let me ask you why you drew that conclusion. I take
it that the opposition of other people, in principle, the Secretary of
State, his view was that if we could get some, he was not opposed
to new initiatives with the Iranian Government. He said he opposed the idea of selling arms in order to further that initiative.
And that seems to be the general reaction of most people, was that
the idea itself was not a bad idea, but that the particulars of it,
namely selling arms as part of that, was wrong.
But you are saying you just flat-out did not think that the idea of
pursuing any kind of relationship with a moderate element in Iran,
that that was not a
Secretary WEINBERGER: I didn't think it was a good idea. I didn't
think it was possible to do it. I did not think and do not think there
is any moderate element in Iran that is still alive, and I think it
was not a good idea in any sense of the term.
I would like to have a relationship with a rational government in
Iran of the kind we had when the Shah was there, because I think
geographically and strategically that's a very useful thing. I was,
as you say, against the whole idea.
Mr. ASPIN: Does that—when the National Security Council, then
Bud McFarlane, drafted the NSDD and circulated it, he had some
intelligence from the CIA, particularly from Mr. Casey, that in fact
there was some intelligence that would indicate that such an initiative was a good idea at that time.
Did you just not believe that intelligence or did you have some
other intelligence? In other words, did DIA have a contrary—Defense Intelligence Agency—have a contrary point of view at that
Secretary WEINBERGER: My memory is that generally they did,
but I didn't see anything in the estimate that accompanied the
draft NSDD that supported such a conclusion.
There were no individuals named, and certainly everything that
I had heard and known about Iran, particularly with respect to all of the statements, positions, their support of terrorism, all of that
struck me as simply being contrary to that estimate. It was not an
intelligence estimate with which I agreed.
Mr. ASPIN: So you just flat-out deny—I mean, there is a whole
series of assumptions or intelligence estimates upon which this
policy was based, either implicitly or explicitly. And let me just let me list them all, Mr. Secretary. and I guess you'd reject them all.
One, that there was a moderate
element that you could deal with.
Second, that somehow giving them weapons would strengthen
them in some way—that this deal would somehow strengthen
Third, that Iran, and in particular this moderate element, held
some influence over the people who are holding our hostages in
Lebanon and that somehow, that they would have the ability to get
the hostages loose and get these people to abate on their terrorist
I take it you would just reject that whole litany.
Secretary WEINBERGER: If you, Mr. Aspin, I may have misread
you but my understanding was that you said there were a whole
series of estimates—to the best of my knowledge, there was only
Mr. ASPIN: The series is what I listed here.
Secretary WEINBERGER: It included all these ideas. I disagreed
with that estimate and all of its parts, yes, but I don't think there
was a whole series of them.
Mr. ASPIN: No, I didn't mean to imply that. I meant there was a
series of either explicit or implicit assumptions behind this policy.
Secretary WEINBERGER: Yes.
Mr. ASPIN: I'm taking it that you just rejected it
Secretary WEINBERGER: It was just contrary from everything I
had heard, all the other intelligence that I've seen, my own personal views, and the knowledge that I had of the way the various battles in the war had gone and what they said about us, their support
of international terrorism, just none of it rang true as far as I was
Mr. ASPIN: So it was essentially pretty much of a gut instinct reaction to it?
Secretary WEINBERGER: Well, it was based on, as I say, a lot of
other reports that I had that made that seem quite wrong.