The Chargé in Great Britain (Atherton) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 2122

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s cablegram No. 245 of July 18, 12 noon,20 and to previous correspondence regarding oil concessions in Iraq, and to transmit herewith a copy of a communication from the Foreign Office under date of July 17, with enclosure, upon which the cablegram in question was based.

Respectfully yours,

Ray Atherton

The British Assistant Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Oliphant) to the American Chargé (Atherton)

No. E 3580/5/93

My Dear Atherton: In the absence of the Secretary of State and of General Dawes, I write to let you know that the question raised in His Excellency’s letter of April 23rd21 to Mr. Henderson22 on the subject of oil concessions in Iraq, have been carefully considered and have been brought to the notice of the Iraqi Government.

To obviate any misunderstanding which may exist, I would draw attention to the fact that Article 11 of the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of October 10th, 1922,23 and article (1) of the Protocol attached to the Tripartite Convention of January 9th, 1930, relate only to discrimination on grounds of nationality. In the opinion of His Majesty’s Government, they do not require that every concession shall, before being granted, be put up to public tender, but only that in all matters relating to the grant of concessions, the decision of the Iraqi Government must be based upon the best interests of Iraq, to the exclusion of all considerations of nationality. The Iraqi Government did not of course themselves seek out or approach the British Oil Development Company. It was the Company which took the initiative and approached the Iraqi Government with certain offers and it is the opinion [Page 608] of His Majesty’s Government that other oil interests have had similar opportunities and sources of information, and that it has been open to them to approach the Iraqi Government in the same way as did the British Oil Development Company. Had they done so, the Iraqi Government would have felt themselves bound to consider, and undoubtedly would have considered, their offers in the same way as they have considered the offers made by the British Oil Development Company.

In fact, however, the Iraqi Government have not at present granted any concession to the British Oil Development Company, and, although they cannot bind themselves to postpone indefinitely the grant of concessions in the remaining available oil bearing land in Iraq, the United States Government will see from the terms of a notice issued in the Iraq Official Gazette on June 21st (a copy of which I enclose for convenience of reference24) that they are still free and willing to consider offers which may be made to them before September 30th next, by any other oil interests, in respect of the whole or any part of the area remaining outside the concessions already granted to the Iraq Petroleum Company and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.

Yours very sincerely,

Lancelot Oliphant
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed; see telegram No. 103, April 22, 6 p.m., to the Ambassador in Great Britain, p. 604.
  3. Arthur Henderson, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  4. Treaty of alliance, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. xxxv, p. 13.
  5. Not printed.