The shah of Iran, whose nation is the largest purchaser of U.S. arms, plans to meet here with President Carter in mid-November, administration sources said.
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi's as yet unannounced state visit, which will precede Carter's Nov. 29 stop in Tehran by about two weeks, comes at a time of increasing criticism of American weapons sales to Iran.
Renewed attacks on such sales are expected today when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considers a resolution to urge Carter to limit transfers of sophisticated aircraft to Persian Gulf countries, including Iran, during this fiscal year.
Some committee members have suggested adding a provision that would ask the President to stop such sales entirely to Persian Gulf countries until the State Department provides Congress with a study of the military balance in that region and of the capability of nations there to absorb the advanced U.S. technology.
One target of the resolution is the proposed sale to Iran of 140 F-16 advanced jet fighter costing about $2 billion. Last fall the Ford administration agreed to sell Iran 160 F1-16 and said then that the shag wanted a total of 300.
The proposal to permit the additional sale has run into opposition in some quarters of the White House and State Department as well as Congress. The opponents say the transaction would cast doubt on the credibility of Carter's promise last May to curb arms sales.
Earlier this month Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) also called for a moratorium on weapons transfers to Iran, noting that since 1972 the United States has sold or agreed to sell $18.2 billion worth of arms to the country.
Besides weapons, the shah and the President are expected to discuss oil (Iran supplies about 7 or 8 per cent of U.S. oil imports); the Middle East (Iran has good relations with the Arabs and the Israelis), the human rights.
According to administration sources, the human rights situation in Iran has improved markedly since the first of the year. By the end of October about 1,000 of an estimated 3,000 political prisoners will have been released. The shah has introduced due process into military courts, which try persons accused of political crimes, and he has allowed foreign journalists and the International Commission on the Red Cross to visit prisons and interview inmates.