891.248/80: Telegram

The Chargé in Iran (Engert) to the Secretary of State

103. I have just seen the Prime Minister and communicated to him the substance of your 50, May 2, 7 p.m. He was visibly disappointed and asked me whether I thought the Department understood how urgent it all was. I assured him that I felt the Department had from the beginning given most serious and sympathetic thought to all angles of his proposals and requests. After a few moments hesitation and looking very grave he requested me to transmit the following verbal message from him to the Secretary of State:

“I, the Prime Minister of Iran, on behalf of the Imperial Government request the Government of the United States to make it possible for Iran to purchase in the United States a comparatively large number of military airplanes of various types for delivery at the earliest possible date. In order to enable Iran to purchase these planes, I hope a credit can be arranged for $10,000,000 to be devoted exclusively to this purpose. Iran has, of course, no aggressive designs against any of her neighbors but merely wishes to be fully prepared to maintain the strictest neutrality and if necessary to defend her independence and territorial integrity.”

The above is obviously intended to convey the impression that Iran is gradually feeling the impact of pressure from the Soviets. While neither the Prime Minister nor the Foreign Minister has mentioned to me the reports referred to in the last paragraph of my 87, April 27, and in my 100, May 5,43 and 101 May 6,44 statements from excellent sources though unconfirmed officially are beginning to lift the curtain behind which some unpleasant scenes must have been enacted. See [Page 644]also my 46, March 16.45 The seriousness of the international situation has further been brought home to Iran by the turn events have taken in Norway and the uncertainties in the Mediterranean. It is felt that the new phase of the war which has just begun may greatly alter Iran’s role in the Middle East. For the present this country is still clinging precariously to neutrality and shares the common desire of all neutrals to keep the war from spreading. Although the Shah keeps his feelings and intentions a secret he is said to have declared that he wishes to follow an essentially Iranian policy and to retain complete freedom of judgment of action. But he is every day faced with new and vital decisions and being conscious of Iran’s military weakness he realizes that her very existence may hang in the balance. Iran is in a state of great perplexity and the message from the Prime Minister to Secretary Hull is perhaps meant to suggest that the world must do something to help neutrals warn off intending aggressors if all small nations are not to disappear.

  1. Post, p. 661.
  2. Ante, p. 630.
  3. Ante, p. 627.