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Cake Delivered to Iranians Was Strictly Kosher

February 27, 1987|BOB DROGIN | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — If historians decide that the Iranian arms operation wasn't kosher, at least the chocolate cake delivered to the fiercely anti-Israel leaders of Iran was.

A delegation led by former National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane carried a chocolate cake "from a kosher bakery in Tel Aviv" when they flew to Tehran to meet the strict Islamic leaders in secret last May, according to the report of the presidential commission that investigated the Iran- contras scandal.

The cake, a participant told the commission, was offered as a token of good will, but was "more of a joke than anything else" between former NSC staff member Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North and Iranian middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, who had arranged the visit.

The cake and several other items given to the Iranians during the arms sale negotiations have been the subject of confused and conflicting reports since the operation's disclosure last fall.

The delegation did not, as previously reported, bring a Bible inscribed by President Reagan as a sign of good faith. According to the report, the leather-bound Bible with a handwritten New Testament verse and Reagan's signature was given to other Iranian emissaries in Frankfurt, West Germany, more than three months later.

Apparently Lied

But North apparently lied to the Iranians about the Bible's significance.

According to the report, North told the Iranians that Reagan "went off one whole weekend and prayed" a year earlier about whether the United States should accept the Iranian regime. North said Reagan inscribed the Bible after he "came back."

"And he said to me," North told the Iranians, " 'This is a promise that God gave to Abraham. Who am I to say that we should not do this?' "

The inscription read: "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'All the nations shall be blessed in you.' Galatians 3:8, (signed) Ronald Reagan, Oct. 3, 1986."

Actually, the report notes, North, who is a devout church-goer, chose the inscription. And Reagan told the commission that he inscribed the verse because North's boss, then-National Security Adviser John M. Poindexter, told him that it was "a favorite passage with one of the people with whom the U.S. was dealing in Iran."

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