Iran's Revolutionary Council has asked Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to approve a plan that calls for the release of the American hostages in Tehran without receiving a commitment for handing over deposed shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in return, Iranian President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr said in an interview published in a French newspaper today.
Bani-Sadr told the newspaper, Le Monde, that Khomeini's response to the council's recommendation is expected within "two days" and could lead to a speedy release for the estimated 50 Americans who have been held at the U.S. Embassy for 100 days.
The Iranian president also added to the growing distance between himself and the militants holding the hostages at the embassy by saying that he was considering steps to take the hostages from the control of the militants and putting them under Revolutionary Guards. He stressed, however, that he would not use force against the militants and Khomeini would have to approve the move.
The interview took place Saturday night and was with Le Monde correspindent Eric Rouleau, who has followed Bani-Sadr's career for some time.
Bani-Sadr said that as soon as Khomeini had given has decision on the latest move in the long-running hostage issue, it would be up to the United States to make "a self-criticism in good and due form of the crimes it committed in Iran for a quarter century and the recognition of our right to obtain the extradition of the shah and the resitution of his fortune."
To get the hostages back, the United States would only need to "recognize its responsibilities and commit itself not to mix in our affairs any longer," Bani-Sadr was quoted as saying.
The Americans, he said, "have not yet understood that there were two sides of the same coin -- our people's determination to be independent. If they admit that fact, it would be easy for us to free the hostages perhaps even in the forthcoming days."
Publication of the interview coincided with the official celebrations of the first anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution.
A spokesman for the students was quoted by the Reuter news agency as saying, "What Bani-Sadr says, until such time as it is approved by the imam (Khomeini), is not important for us. But anything the imam orders us to do we will do, even releasing the hostages or handing them over to authorities."
[The spokesman added, "We think the imam would not do such a thing because in one of his speeches he said the United States must not expect us to retreat one step. They must give us the shah and his wealth.]
The recognition of Iran's "right" to extradite the shah, and not making his extradition a precondition for the hostages' release, was first alluded to by Bani-Sadr in his appearance on ABC-TV's "Issues and Answers" last weekend and immediately raised hopes that significant moves were being taken in the hostage situation.
State Department spokesman Hodding Carter said in Washington, "We are ruling out the United States declaring its guilt, either specified or unspecified." He said there would be no further comment from the United States on the Bani-Sadr interview unitl it had studied the full text.
[Other administration officials added privately that they were most interested in the statement that the Revolutionary Council had formulated a plan for dealing with the hostages and that the plan was now with Khomeini. The officials said the United States would have to know the details of the plan before it could assess whether it signified a break in the hostage impasse.]
The most prominently mentioned proposal for release of the hostages is that of U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, which calls for establishment of an international commission to investigate Iran's charges against the shah but links its start to the release of the hostages to a third party, such as the International Red Cross, until the commission's work was ended.
In the interview in Le Monde, Bani-Sadr said that his government is so sure of the justice of its case that it is ready in advance to accept the conclusions of an international investigation.
[A U.N. spokesman said in New York that the negotiations had reached a "very sensitive" stage and indicated that a breakthrough might be closer than seemed possible a few days ago.]
Bani-Sadr indicated in the interview that the Revolutionary Council was divided on the form the international investigation was to take, however.
He said the division was over whether to accept Waldheim's proposal for a U.N. commission made up of Third World states or a kind of Third World Nuremberg Tribunal of independent nongovernmental personalities who would place "American imperialism" on trial.
He said he leaned to the second idea but that a combination of the two would be ideal. "In any case" he said, "we have transmitted our proposals, which represent a consensus, to Iman Khomeini, who is the sole authority to make the decision. We hope to get it in the next two days. If he accepts, it will be up to President Carter to pronounce himself in turn."
Bani-Sadr said he was considering the possibility of the Iranian state taking the hostages from the students who have been holding them in the U.S. Embassy. But, he said, the Revolutionary Council and Khomeini would have to approve his proposal to that effect and that there is question of taking the hostages away from the students by force.
It has been known for some time that there were French leftist lawyers working on this and other similar formulas for freeing the hostages while satisfying the demands of the Iranian revolutionaries.
By the language he chose, and in a lengthy discussion of the problems of broadening his government and of allowing free expressing in Iran, Bani-Sadr made clear that he was aware of treading in a sensitive political area.
He said that the United States had been wrong to interpret the hostage-taking as an expression of the revolution's savagery or fanaticism and that it was also wrong to consider his own recent election victory a triumph of French-made, pro-Western liberalism over the Moslem clergy.
Bani-Sadr spoke of the need to dissolve "uncontrollable" revolutionary committees that have substituted their authority for that of the state. He said he also plans to establish a police "worthy of the name" and to recruit new judges so the trials can be speedily held.
Meanwhile, he said he had ordered 300 persons freed who had been held without charges for months. He said he soon hoped to free the followers of Ayatollah Shariatmadari who were arrested last month during uprisings in Tabriz, the capital of northwest Azerbaijan Province.
Speaking of the "sincerity and revolutionary feelings above all suspicion" of the militants at the U.S. Embassy, Bani-Sadr nevertheless made it clear that once the hostages are released, he plans to curb their free access to Iranian radio and television.
"I only reproach them," he said, "for meddling in things that are none of their business. If they were to denounce one politician or another, they will henceforth have access to radio-television only with the authorization of the Revolutionary Council."
He said the students must cease slandering their political opponents by accusing men like former Premier Mehdi Bazargan of being in the pay of the CIA.
"To fight against political opponents is one thing," said Bani-Sadr, "to slander them is another." He said he agreed with the students that the Bazargan group is made up of reformers and pro-Americans. But he also noted that Iran's Tudeh (Communist Party) was pro-Moscow and said, "that in not a good enough reason to ban it."
News services reported these developments in Tehran:
Masses of jubilant Iranians celebrated the revolution's anniversary with a victory parade through Tehran. The crush was so great a grandstand collapsed, killing one person and injuring 66 persons, including four who were hospitalized, Tehran Radio said. It said three others in the crowd were killed when they were hit by a tank during the parade of security forces.
At the ceremonies, Khomeini's son, Ahmad, read a message from the spiritual leader raising the prospect of eventual normalization of relations with the United States.
"I have said time and time again and I repeat now taht Iran continues its decisive struggle against the ruthless expansionist United States until the breaking of all economic, military, political and cultural dependence.
"And then, if the nation allows, normal very ordinary relations with the United States, similar to those with other nations, could be established," the message said.