891.24/280: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

6257. Substance of Department’s 5534, November 5, 8 p.m. and of first three paragraphs of Department’s 5581, November 6, 10 p.m. conveyed to Foreign Office. Replies and comments to date of Foreign Office on points dealt with in Department’s telegram are:

1. Foreign Office agreeable to the minor changes in the proposed announcement on Iran which are suggested by the Department in paragraphs 1 and 2 of its 5534 of November 5. Foreign Office asks that Department inform American Minister at Tehran accordingly and give him the necessary instructions to enable immediate publication of announcement.

2. Foreign Office also requests that Department seriously consider instructing our Minister at Tehran actively to support British Minister at Tehran in his discussions with the Iranian authorities on proposals to find a long-term solution of the currency situation, the first step towards such a solution being a proposal to divest the Majlis of control over currency matters and to vest this control in a currency commission.

3. With reference to the immediate shipment of a supply of wheat to Iran Foreign Office states that it is trying to arrange for the shipment of 20,000 tons, this figure having been taken because that is the amount of wheat and barley which it is understood the Soviets have purchased in Iran and the 20,000 tons serve, therefore, as a replacement for Soviet purchases. If after arrangements have been completed for shipping these 20,000 tons, the Department still desires that an additional 5,000 tons be shipped the British authorities, Foreign Office states, would probably not object.

Foreign Office adds that it prefers to have the 20,000 tons of wheat looked upon as a replacement for that which the Soviets have purchased rather than as a reserve. Foreign Office prefers this because it believes that if the Iranian authorities look upon this supply of wheat as a “reserve” rather than a replacement, they will be less inclined to cooperate in meeting the situation that has arisen in Iran.

With further reference to the shipment of wheat Foreign Office states that it has been told by the British shipping authorities that it will be very difficult to find the tonnage necessary for transporting immediately 20,000 tons to Iran. Moreover, it is felt that the arrival of the whole amount at once would increase the delay of clearing other goods through the ports of Iran. It has consequently been [Page 183] decided to ship 5,000 tons of the wheat this month, another 5,000 tons in December and the remaining 10,000 tons as soon thereafter as possible.

Mr. Casey at Cairo has been asked to advise the Middle East Supply Center of the shipping arrangements that have been made and to tell the Middle East Supply Center to make the necessary local adjustments. Mr. Eden59 in the meantime has told the Soviet Ambassador here, Mr. Maisky, of these arrangements pointing out at the same time that the shipment of this amount of wheat to Iran would necessarily entail a reduction proportionately in the transportation of supplies to Russia over the Iranian route.

Foreign Office adds further that the Ministry of War Transport is very anxious that those authorities of the United States Government having charge of shipments to the Iranian Gulf should understand the situation fully so that arrangements will be made for shipments to Russia to be reduced in proportion to the quantity of wheat sent to Iran. Such arrangements must be made in time, it is stressed, to avoid serious congestion at the Iranian gulf ports.

4. Foreign Office also states that when Mr. Eden informed Mr. Maisky of the proposed announcement on Iran Mr. Maisky replied that he thought his Government would like to become a party to the announcement and also to participate on the Road Transport Committee mentioned in the announcement. Mr. Eden told Mr. Maisky that he saw no objection to that so long as the Soviet Government assumed the obligations accompanying such participation. Mr. Maisky then said he would consult his Government, which he has done, but he has not as yet received a reply.

When informing us of the foregoing the Foreign Office made it very plain that it felt that the efforts that are being made to find a solution for the critical problems that have arisen in Iran should not be slacked in any way pending further word from Mr. Maisky nor, specifically, should the issuance of the announcement on Iran be delayed.

5. With reference to section 2 of Tehran’s telegram referred to in the Department’s 5581, of November 6, we can say emphatically that at no time during the discussions which we have had during the past weeks with British officials on Iran have we felt that the British were trying to delay the finding of a solution of the food and currency problems. On the contrary these officials have throughout shown great concern and full appreciation of the seriousness of the situation prevailing in Iran and of the necessity of finding a solution as quickly as possible.

  1. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.