December 29, 1978 – Ominous signs from Tehran this day. Although at the time, not many paid attention. But if you lived in Iran, you noticed. And either you took to the streets, or quietly wondered just how this would all play out. On this day The Shah made a move to end the crisis, but it wasn’t as severe as many thought it was going to be. Highly placed Palace sources said The Shah was not going to leave the country and not going to turn over power to any civilian form of government. Instead, he asked the Number 2 person of the opposition National Front Party to try and form a coalition government, a government which could be announced within the coming 48 hours. The man the Shah wanted to head this new government was 63 year old Shapour Bakhtiar a lawyer-businessman to form a cabinet that he hoped would appeal to both the Shah and his opponent, the Ayatollah khomeini. However, Bakhtiar was told earlier in the evening that the Shah was planning on leaving Iran for a rest and would turn his powers over to a Crown Council. But according the Palace sources, there was a great deal of confusion on the part of Bakhtiar because the Shah, the source said, would be staying.
The series of developments were starting to grab the attention in Washington. Officials at The State Department were clearly uncertain about the power, personality and politics of the proposed new government but were withholding direct comment. However, a consensus of opinion seemed to be that the new Prime Ministers durability was questionable, so long as the Shah retained his Throne and control of his Armed forces. For the moment, U.S. support for the Shah remained unchanged. But privately, senior officials have come to the view that the political opposition in Iran was strong and determined to drive the Shah from power. The gloomy assessment was compounded by news that the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Constellation leave Subic Bay in The Philippines and head for the Indian Ocean, just in case.
And that’s just a little of what went on, this December 29, 1978 as broadcast by The World Tonight from CBS Radio.