Despite statements to the contrary by representatives of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran does not seek to export its revolution to the Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf, according to Iranian Foreign Minister Ibrahim Yazdi.
His statement contradicted recent speeches by senior Moslem clergymen in Khomeini's entourage condemning the rule of the Gulf's Arab monarchs, who adhere to the Sunni sect of Islam, and implicitly encouraging their Shiite Moslem populations to rise against them.
In an interview here, Yazdi also reacted sharply to news that the American charge d'affaires in Tehran delivered a protest to the government there over the recent executions of three Iranian senators who served under ousted Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
Although administration officials have said U.S.-Iranian relations are improving, Yazdi described them as "very cool." His remarks coincided with a harsh denunciation of the U.S. charge, Bruce Laingen, by the newspaper of Khomeini's Islamic Republican Party and the state-run radio.
According to informed sources, the State Department recommended that Laingen, a former ambassador to Malta, be promoted to that rank in Tehran, succeeding William Sullivan, who left the post earlier this year. But Laingen's appointment had not yet been approved by the White House, the sources said. The vitriolic criticism of Laingen lately would appear to color the prospects for the Tehran government's acceptance of him. A previous U.S. appointee, Walter Cutler, was rejected by Iranian authorities.
Yazdi brought up his country's complaint about Laingen in a one-hour meeting Wednesday night with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. It was the first meeting between the two. They had what State Department spokesman Tom Reston characterized as "cordial and frank" discussions. Reston said the question of diplomatic representation was not raised during the talks.
Yazdi, in New York to address the U.N. General Assembly, indicated during the interview that Moslem clergymen in Khomeini's entourage were speaking as individuals in their speeches on exporting revolution and not on behalf of the leadership.
So far, Khomeini, the leader of the Shiites who make up a majority of Iran's population, has restricted his own statements on the subject to general calls for the spread of Islamic rule around the globe and the overthrow of unnamed "anti-Moslem" despots. But he has not repudiated the statements of his fellow clergymen.
"Revolution is not something that you can export to other countries," Yazdi said. He added: "We have to differentiate between two things. One is the normal and natural impact of our revolution in other countries. This is understandable and nobody can blame the Iranians because they have made a revolution and as a result of the Iranian revolution people from this or that country got some idea. They were inspired by the Iranian revolution, and now they want to go ahead and intensify their activities. That's up to those people.
"The other point is whether the . . . Islamic government in Iran has any intention or any plan to export revolution to other countries. The answer is no not at all."
This appeared to conflict with a recent speech in which Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, believed to be the most powerful religious figure in Khomini's entourage, declared, "We will export our Islamic revolution to all the Moslem countries of the world."
In recent weeks, Iranian clergymen have stepped up their campaign to rally Shiites to Iranian revolutionary doctrines in the Gulf, leading to the expulsions of Khomeini representatives by Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
The oil sheikdoms evidently fear unrest of the kind that led to the overthrow of the shah earlier this year. The alarm is greatest in Bahrain, where Shiites are in the majority. Also upsetting have been indications that the Islamic republic might renew Iran's claim -- renounced by the shah -- to Bahrain.
The clergymen's campaign appeared to acquire more weight with Ayatollah Sadegh Rouhani, reportedly a member of Iran's secret Revolutionary Council, sharply denounced the emir of Bahrain at a recent ceremony presided over by Khomeini.
Rouhani said that if the emir does "not want to stop oppressing the people and restore Islamic laws, we will call on the people of Bahrain to demand annexation to the Islamic government of Iran."
Asked what the aim of Rouhani's remarks were, Yazdi replied, "Iran is a democratic republic and people are free to express their opinions. If any government is popular and supported by the people, it should not worry about these statements."
Yazdi also angrily denounced "incorrect" coverage of Iranian developments depicting an increasingly totalitarian attitude toward dissident political parties, newspapers and minority groups. He also criticized what he said were human rights violations in the United States.
On Laingen's protest, Yazdi said, "What does he have to protest? We may also notify them [the Americans] that we don't like the way they treat many of their citizens: blacks, Mexicans, Indians."
Yazdi, apparently sensitive to domestic criticism of his 17-year residence in the United States before the revolution, flatly denied reports that he is an American citizen.
According to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, Yazdi was admitted as a permanent U.S. resident in July 1962 and became a naturalized American citizen on Marh 19, 1971. The agency said Yazdi has not yet renounced his U.S. citizenship.