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

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

The Iranian Minister and Major Chaltchi, head of the Iranian Aviation Mission, came in prior to keeping an appointment at the Treasury with Mr. Philip Young of the President’s Liaison Committee.

As the result of discussion and questioning, it developed from Major Chaltchi’s remarks that on receiving instructions from his Government, he had approached Mr. Young on July 18 relative to the possibility of purchasing bombers and fighters of types approved by the United States Army. Mr. Young thereupon made inquiries, the results of which were embodied in his letter of August 3 to Major Chaltchi, a copy of which the Major handed to Mr. Murray, and is attached hereto.50

Major Chaltchi said that he had not availed himself of Mr. Young’s offer to put him in touch with the Washington representatives of the manufacturers because he already knew them. He therefore approached them direct, but was informed that since delivery to the American armed forces must take precedence, no delivery dates on Iranian orders could be set; moreover, delivery of the Iranian requirements would occur after such a long lapse of time that the manufacturers could not quote prices. He reported to Tehran to this effect, with the result that the Iranian Government took up the matter with our Legation at Tehran.

Mr. Murray observed that Major Chaltchi’s problem was by no means unique. It was faced by every foreign Government which wanted to buy airplanes here. He asked whether Major Chaltchi had inquired from the air attachés of other foreign countries represented in Washington, under what conditions they were obtaining airplanes. It would be interesting to know, for example, how the Turks were making out.

Major Chaltchi replied that the Turks were accepting planes of types not being supplied to the United States Army. The Iranian Government, however, would not purchase machines not approved by the American armed forces.

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Mr. Murray then said that the Iranian Government seemed to be seeking the solution for an insoluble problem. They could not expect this Government, under existing conditions, to give way to Iranian needs. Moreover, this country was deeply concerned with the outcome of the present attacks on Great Britain. It was obviously in the interest of this country to make every airplane which could be manufactured, and which was not required here, available for the British. However, Mr. Murray did not doubt that the Liaison Committee would do everything possible for the Iranian Government. At the same time, he pointed out that neither the Department of State nor even the Liaison Committee, in the last analysis, exercised control over the manufacturers, which were free enterprises at liberty to accept or reject any orders.

This morning Major Chaltchi telephoned to Mr. Merriam to say that, in company with his Minister, he had had an interview yesterday with Mr. Young, Colonel Morland, and Commander Young. He said that the American officials had manifested every willingness to do everything possible to meet the wishes of the Iranian Government, and would explore the situation further regarding the possibility of licensing the manufacture of pursuit planes in Iran, and of securing firm price and delivery quotations from the manufacturers.

Major Chaltchi said that he had received two more urgent telegrams from his Government on the subject, and that he hoped a reply from the Committee would be forthcoming in the next two or three days. He asked whether the Department could not urge the Committee to expedite the matter.

The Major was informed that there was every reason to believe the Committee would exert itself to the utmost. He was told quite frankly that it would be inadvisable for the Department to inject itself further into the matter at this time and that to do so would probably have the effect of a boomerang. If the Major should not receive a reply in a reasonable time, we would then consider what further steps might be taken.

  1. Not printed.