Iranian Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh today accused Henry Kissinger of secret efforts in Panama to stop extradition proceedings there against the deposed shah.
He warned that if Kissinger is successful, the ordeal of the American hostages would be prolonged.
Ghotbzadeh offered no evidence to prove Kissinger's involvement in Panama and there was no independent confirmation of his charge. Attempts to reach for former secretary of state were unsuccessful.
Ghotbzadeh, in a press statement, accused Kissinger and David Rockefeller, chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, of being behind a plan to take the shah out of Panama before that country's Monday deadline for a formal Iranian extradition request.
In Panama, French attorney Christian Bourget said today he would file 450 pages of evidence against the shah with Panamanian authorities on Monday on behalf of Iran.
In an interview, Ghotbzadeh said Kissinger had recently visited Panama and seen Panamanian President Aristides Royo on the matter.
The Iranian foreign minister said an Egyptair jet was standing by at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport waiting to go to Panama to take the deposed monarch, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and his family to Egypt, where they first stayed after leaving Iran in mid-January 1979.
[Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Dennis Feldman said that "there is no Egyptian flight at all at Kennedy" and that no one "has filed a flight plan or asked for weather reports." He added that Egyptair has landing rights only at Kennedy and would be unlikely to receive permission to use another U.S. airport.]
Ghotbzadeh's statement said:
"I think this action by Kissinger and Rockefeller, if they succeed in removing the shah from Panama and stopping the extradition proceedings, will have a disastrous effect in Iran, will prolong the process of resolving the hostage problem and will be to the detriment of peace in the region. Responsibility will rest with these two men."
The Iranian government has demanded that the shah be extradited to stand trial for his alleged crimes and militants holding the hostages at the U.S. Embassy have said return of the shah and his fortune was the price for releasing the Americans, held since Nov. 4.
Ghotbzadeh and other Iranians are suspicious that efforts by American doctors and past supporters of the shah to transfer him to American-controlled hospital for an operation to remove a diseased spleen could be a ploy to spirit him out of Panamanian jurisdiction to allow him to take refuge elsewhere.
Observers here interpreted Ghotbzadeh's statement as suggesting that Iranians would hold the United States responsible if he left Panama and that President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr and Ghotbzadeh would be powerless to control the extremists in Iran who are steadfastly opposed to that government's efforts to solve the crisis with the United States.
Iranians' suspicions about the shah intensified yesterday when Panamanian Justice Minister Ricardo Alfonso Rodriguez said the deposed leader "was free to leave if any country wants to take him."
Previously, the shah's status had been left purposely vague. Iranians generally were convinced that the Panamanian government would agree to hear the Tehran authorities' long-delayed extradition suit on Monday.
Ghotbzadeh's warning struck analysts here was an accurate description of the probable repercussions if the shah is allowed to leave without facing an extradition hearing.
The analysts noted that accepting the hearing, which is solely dependent on the officials in Panama, in no way presumed that the shah actually would be extradited.
Indeed, even Iran's Panamanian lawyer, Juan Materno Vazquez, is on record as saying that, in keeping with Panamanian law, Iran has no chance of obtaining extradition of the shah unless the Tehran government formally pledges to spare his life once back here.
But formally starting the extradition proceedings would give both Iran and the United States at least two more months during which the hostages' release might be arranged, observers noted.
Iran's revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has pledged that the new parliament, which is being elected now, will decide the hostage issue. Various statements have suggested that late April or early May might be the earliest moments for meaningful debate on the issue.
However, the analysts said, were the shah to leave Panama, right-wing fundamentalist clerical candidates who are opposed to the hostages' release could well constitute the biggest voting bloc, if not necessarily an outright majority, in the 270-seat chamber.
"If the shah leaves Panama," one senior Iranian politician said, "you won't find 5 percent of parliament ready to vote for the hostages' release. The whole sabotaging of the extradition request will be seen entirely as a United States government conspiracy. Not a single Iranian will believe otherwise."
Observers were at a loss to understand why Egyptian President Anwar Sadat would agree again to welcome the shah, especially since a new stay might prove to be much more lengthy than the original one.
In Ghotbzadeh's formal statement, the allusions to disruptions of the "peace in the region" reflected past Iranian warnings that neither the shah nor Sadat would know any peace if the deposed monarch sought refuge in Egypt.