891.00/1940: Telegram

The Minister in Iran ( Dreyfus ) to the Secretary of State

365. Department’s 306, November 5. Iran Government has suggested following changes in food declaration: (1) They seek assurance that declaration in no way changes British obligations under British-Soviet-Iran treaty: (2) they wish to alter article 1 of declaration to provide that we will “undertake to arrange for importation of cereals” rather than merely to take all steps within the full limit of our powers; and (3) they desire that in article 2 we undertake to move cereals from an area with a surplus to a necessitous area in case they are for reasons beyond their control unable to do so. In making last two suggestions Iranians have in mind both heavy Allied purchases of their food and constant Soviet obstruction to shipment of wheat from Azerbaijan. British agree to comply with 1 but firmly refuse to agree to 2 and 3.

Both British Minister and I have informed Prime Minister that Anglo-Iranian financial agreement of May 26 must be ratified by Majlis as condition to our making food declaration. Prime Minister is taking British refusal to accede to his suggested [suggestion] under consideration and promises early reply. An expression of the Department’s attitude toward these proposed changes will be appreciated in case Prime Minister persists.

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Iranians base their requests enumerated above on sincere belief that Allies, far from having lived up to their pledges to Iran, have pillaged the country to such an extent that a firm and inescapable rather than a vague promise must now be obtained. There is much to be said for Iranian viewpoint for the country has been indeed pillaged of food and transport by Allies. Allies have taken over Iran railways; UKCC has taken 1700 Iranian trucks and Soviets 400 while newly formed Iranian transport organization has only 180. UKCC has created major passenger crisis by taking about 200 of Tehran’s 300 buses. British appear to be bent on obtaining a puppet government. British Minister hinted to me that if necessary he is prepared to seize bank notes in Banque Mellie by force. In my 362, November 7, I suggested two possible reasons for this British attitude. A third reason might be that British wish to entrench themselves solidly in Iran for fear that ever increasing American influence and activity here may have adverse effects on their long range interests. British Legation is cold and harsh in dealing with Iranians. For example, aide-mémoire presented to Iranians today began: “Irrespective of any other consideration His Majesty’s Government intends to secure the fulfillment of the financial agreement and the necessary supply of rials.”