The U.S. spokesman for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's revolutionary government in Iran voiced strong opposition yesterday to the presence of any U.S. military advisers in Iran and suggested that his government is considering destroying the highly sophisticated F14 fighters it owns.
Speaking at a news conference at the Iranian embassy, Shahriar Rouhani also said that Iran was weighing asking the Carter administration to freeze an estimated $15 billion to $23 billion in U.S. assets owned by the deposed shah, his family and associates.
Rouhani said after the press conference that he has already raised with Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance the possibility that Iran will ask the administration to help in returning Iranian officials who may be wanted for trial in Iran. No formal extradition treaty exists between the two nations.
Rouhani, who acts as spokesman for an interim committee appointed by Khomeini to oversee the activities of the Iranian embassy here, met with Vance on Tuesday for what the State Department later described as a getting-acquainted session.
But the Iranian's description of the meeting centered more on business. He said he had discussed Iran's desire to review all of the existing military agreements between the two countries and had conveyed to Vance Iran's insistence that "possible interference in Iran's internal affairs" be ended immediately.
Much of the press conference was devoted to Rouhani's efforts to end questioning about allegedly incriminating documents and lists found at the embassy detailing gifts and payments by the shah's former ambassador, Ardeshir Zahedi, to American politicians, media personalities and others.
All such documents have been shipped back to Iran and it would be up to the authorities there to decide what to make public, Rouhani said. He added that further discussion would serve only to stir up "the filthy memories of the shah's regimes," which his government wanted to erase.
James Abourezk, former Democratic senator from South Dakota who now represents the Khomeini group here, saw some of the documents but without names, Rouhani said. Abourezk told reporters this week the documents had been shipped back to Tehran to avoid subponenas.
Rouhani flatly ruled out the reopening or continuation of U.S. intelligence-gathering stations in Iran. The shah's government permitted three such stations, which were targeted on the Soviet Union.
Rouhani said he had no details on reports that guerrillas had overrun one of the stations last weekend and taken 22 U.S. technicians captive briefly.
State Department spokesman Hodding Carter categorically dinied that guerrillas had taken over any U.S. facility. U.S. officials said that demands by Iranian military personnel guarding one station to be paid before the station was closed down last weekend triggered a confrontation that was finally resolved by the Iranian government, which airlifted the technicians out of the base.
Carter and other U.S. officials said that all sensitive U.S. equipment and materiel had been removed or destroyed "in adequate time" to prevent Iranians capturing it.
Rouhani said the new Iranian government would not accept military advisers from any foreign country.
While saying flatly that intelligence stations would not be allowed back in Iran, Rouhani indicated that a final decision has not yet been made in the return of the nearly 1,000 U.S. military advisers previously stationed in Iran. "My strong feeling is that we are not going to have military advisers in Iran from any country," he said.
He described the possession of 78 F14 fighters, an extremely costly and high performance warplane, as "a dilemma." He said no decision has been made yet, adding, "we don't know whether to destroy it or not." Selling or transferring the warplanes to another country "could mean that it would be used against innocent people there."
Asked about reports that Iran might aid African nationalist groups opposed to the white government of South Africa, Rouhani said it would take Iran two or three years before it would be in a position to extend any significant aid abroad.
He repeated his government's decision to cut off all relations, including trade and oil exports, with South Africa in solidarity with "the oppressed African people."