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December 22, 1979 – The U.S. Embassy in Tehran was the object of considerable attention this day. The hostages were knee-deep in Day 49 of the drama, with very little relief in sight. But that wasn’t the case in Washington, where President Carter said he could think of no more clear and compelling challenge to the International community than the one America was facing on this day.
At the UN, the U.S. was still tryiing to line-up the necessary 9 Security council votes for economic sanctions against Iran, and avoid a Soviet veto. The next step was consultations; Ambassador Donald McHenry was set to compare notes with other members of the Security Council, on how to respond effectively to President Carter’s request. The private talks were said to be very useful in staking out how far the Council members would go in supporting economic sanctions, which were far reaching and severe. The consultations were expected to go on for many days, which concerned President Carter, as growing U.S. frustration and anger towards Iran and the handling of the situation prompted Carter to ask the consultations be around-the-clock and over the Christmas Holiday.
The matter of sanctions was not necessarily a panacea for the problem. Diplomats pointed to a similar situation in Rhodesia, where UN sanctions were imposed for ten years, without doing any noticeable harm to the country. Despite almost unanimous support, Rhodesia was still on friendly terms with South Africa, who supplied the country with all the otherwise sanctioned goods it was lacking from other members. A repeat of that outcome was a possibility with Iran, since the Soviet Union vetoed a Council resolution on sanctions in the first place. But it was pointed out that Iran’s military was supplied primarily with American arms and parts for planes, which were no longer available to Tehran. It was estimated that Iran’s military force was on the verge of collapse because of it. Sources inside Tehran were quoted as saying the Ayatollah needed to find a way out of the situation before its economy collapsed as well.
Meanwhile, the hostages were still holed up at the Embassy in Tehran – and the Christmas cards were pouring in.
And that’s just a taste of what went on, this December 22, 1979 – as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.