Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Gordon P. Merriam of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs

Participants: The Iranian Minister, Mr. Schayesteh
Mr. Murray
Mr. Villard
Mr. Merriam

The Iranian Minister came in this afternoon at Mr. Murray’s invitation to discuss the desire of his Government to purchase 50 heavy bombers and 30 pursuit planes from American manufacturers. The Minister was informed that as the result of inquiries which had been made of the competent officials, there appeared to be no possibility of making available to the Iranian Government machines being constructed or to be constructed for the United States Government. It was pointed out to him, on the other hand, that military airplanes were being built for and delivered currently to foreign governments. Those governments had, however, placed their orders some time ago. If the Iranian Government wanted airplanes, it would seem desirable that orders be placed as soon as possible, since priority of delivery as between foreign buyers seemed to hinge essentially upon date of orders. However, we had no information that the Iranian Government had placed orders for the machines above mentioned or that it intended to do so in the immediate future.

Mr. Schayesteh was manifestly disappointed at receiving this information. He observed that in view of the immense size of the American armament program, surely a few airplanes could be spared for the Iranian Government without interfering with that program in any important way.

Mr. Murray reminded the Minister that the American program is at present almost entirely on paper, that recent international events had placed heavy responsibilities on our armed services, which felt [Page 649]themselves unable to permit the slightest interference with the plans for the manufacture and delivery of machines for our use. The Minister was informed of the view of the Under Secretary of State that the Department could not in any way bring pressure to bear on the competent officials to subordinate any part of our program to Iranian needs. The Minister was asked whether in fact the Iranian Government had placed any order for airplanes in this country apart from a few training machines.

Mr. Schayesteh replied in the negative, and stated that the interviews which Major Chaltchi, present head of the Iranian Aviation Mission here, had had with representatives of the manufacturers, were most unsatisfactory. Major Chaltchi, he said, had been informed by those representatives that Iran could not be supplied until the American program should be achieved, and that neither delivery dates nor prices could be quoted at this time.

As the result of considerable questioning it appeared, although it proved to be impossible to secure a categorical statement from the Iranian Minister on the point, that Major Chaltchi had not yet made any use of the letter which Mr. Philip Young, the Coordinator from the Procurement Division of the Treasury, had addressed to him on August 3 stating no objection is perceived, subject to the needs of the American armed forces, to permitting the supply of airplanes to Iran, and offering to place him in touch with American airplane manufacturers.

The Minister was told that the logical next step was for Major Chaltchi to avail himself of Mr. Young’s offer and then to return to the manufacturers with Mr. Young’s letter in hand.

It was arranged that Major Chaltchi should come to see Mr. Murray on Monday and that an endeavor would be made to make an appointment for Major Chaltchi with Mr. Young, whereupon the Iranian Minister departed evidently pleased that some way might yet be found of meeting the desires of his Government.

After clearing with Mr. Yost in Co,49 Mr. Murray talked with Mr. James Buckley, assistant to Mr. Young (the latter being out of town), and arranged for Major Chaltchi to call on Mr. Young, Monday at 11:30. Mr. Buckley was informed that for political reasons it was desirable to do everything possible to meet the wishes of the Iranian Government in the matter, although, of course, we did not wish to urge any action which the Coordinator should consider unwise or impracticable. Mr. Buckley promised to take Major Chaltchi in hand and do what was possible. He felt, however, that little could be done until after the Major should have presented Mr. Young’s letter to the manufacturers.

  1. Division of Controls.