By: Mir M.Hosseini
Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin came to Tehran for a week-long state visit on April, 2, 1968 on Sizdeh Bedar Day, the 13th day of the Persian New Year.
World War II had brought the start of American dominance in Iran's political arena, and with an anti-Soviet Cold War, the United States moved to convert Iran into an anti-communist block, thus ending Russia's influence on Iran for many years to come but Kosygin was more than welcome; after years of nearly total dependence on the West, Mohammad Reza Shah was turning his country increasingly toward Russia, his once hostile northern neighbor, seeking friendship, trade and backing for his ambitious industrial development plans.
The Russians, on the other hand, were nice to Iran. Capitalizing on the Shah's determination to industrialize, they offered him heavy machinery and even fully installed industrial plants, complete with Soviet technicians, in exchange for iron ore and petroleum. Five other East European countries followed Russia's lead and agreed to build him 19 major factories, 500 miles of railroad and a pipeline to carry natural gas from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea.
The dearest project was the $300 million Russian steel mill (Zobahan) under construction at Isfahan. Steel mills are status symbols to all developing countries, and Iran yearned for one for years. The Shah himself broke ground for the plant last month, and the declared purpose of Kosygin's trip was to pay a visit to its site. Obviously, there was not a great deal to see yet, but the new mill was a convenient excuse for the Soviet Premier to negotiate in person for even bigger deals.