891.51A/515a: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant )94

912. The British Embassy has informed the Department of the concern felt in London over the deteriorating financial and economic situation in Iran and has inquired whether this Government would be prepared to lend its assistance in securing the services of an American financial adviser who would also assume direction of the importation of badly needed supplies for the civilian population, principally bread, [Page 225] sugar and cotton piece goods. The suggestion was also made that it would be highly desirable if some experienced American relief organization would supervise the distribution of the above-mentioned supplies. The Embassy states that the matter has been discussed with the Iranian Government, who are anxious to see the above proposals implemented as soon as possible.

The Embassy has been advised informally that these suggestions will be given careful and sympathetic consideration. The Embassy was, at the same time, reminded, however, that an American financial adviser and relief organization could not perform their duties effectively without the full support of competent Iranian officials; that, in this connection, the Department has noted with concern the recent deterioration in the Iranian political situation resulting from the regrettable emergence from political obscurity of reactionary politicians with unsavory reputations who appear to be slated for cabinet posts and other positions of influence.

It was emphasized, furthermore, that the rise to power of such characters would tend to nullify the numerous beneficial reforms that have been instituted in Iran during the last 15 years. It was also pointed out that, as a result of a probable breakdown in internal administration arising from the corruption and incompetence of such leaders, the occupying forces might well be obliged to expend considerable time and energy in the maintenance of law and order. The maintenance of such law and order was imperative if the safe transportation of military supplies to Russia was to be assured. The point was made that it is in the interest of both Iran and the United Nations that men of integrity and ability should assume posts of leadership in Iran, in order that the country may assume the role of a willing partner resisting aggression rather than that of a passive appendage.

In view of the above considerations, the suggestion was made that both the American and British Ministers at Tehran might be instructed to collaborate in such manner as might be appropriate with a view to encouraging the assumption of high office by Iranians of tested competence and integrity.

Please seek an early opportunity to discuss this question with the Foreign Office with a view to securing its cooperation. The strategic position of Iran at this time, as a result of Japanese successes in the Far East and the threat of German action in the Near East, is so obvious as scarcely to require stressing. The Department, therefore, trusts that the competent British authorities will concur with us in believing that no time should be lost in strengthening Iran’s position as greatly as possible along the lines outlined above.

Please keep the Department fully and promptly informed of developments.

  1. Repeated to the Minister in Iran as No. 55, March 4, 9 p.m.