Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Alling)

Participants: Mr. Schayesteh, Minister of Iran
Mr. Murray64
Mr. Alling

The Iranian Minister called today and said that he had received a telegram from his Government directing him to discuss with the Secretary of State the situation in Iran along the following lines:

Mr. Schayesteh was to point out that the Tripartite Treaty which Iran had signed with Great Britain and Soviet Russia had been based on the principles of the Atlantic Charter. The Iranian Government considered the principles enunciated in that Charter of great importance to its national welfare. In view of developments during the past few months the Iranian Government was beginning to fear that under the present circumstances Great Britain might be willing or might be obliged, to concur in and approve of certain designs which the Soviet Government might have on Iranian territory. Accordingly, the Iranian Government believed that the situation could be clarified if the United States Government would make some declaration regarding Iran in accordance with the principles of the Atlantic Charter.

Mr. Schayesteh went on to say it was no secret that his countrymen had a strong dislike for the Russians and, although they did not dislike the British to the same extent, there was nevertheless a feeling of mistrust in Iran toward Great Britain. He pointed out that he was aware from visas which he had issued and from stories which he had read in the American press of the part which the United States and its armed forces were playing in Iran. He assumed that the part which the United States played would increase and become of greater importance. He felt, therefore, that it would be altogether desirable for this Government, which was fully trusted by his Government and by the Iranian people, to make some gesture which would reassure his Government and people regarding their future status. As things were, he said, the Iranians had no great incentive to resist aggression if their country was to become the subject of Soviet Russian designs. He stressed the fact that action such as he had indicated on the part of this Government would, he felt, induce the Iranians to play a more active part and to cooperate more wholeheartedly with the occupying forces. He emphasized the fact that such action as was proposed by his Government should be taken without delay, since otherwise it would be [Page 274]too late, as had been the case in other Asiatic countries. In this connection he pointed out that the Burmese had given no assistance to the British and had in fact helped Britain’s enemies. This was because, in his opinion, the Burmese felt that if they fought for the British there was no assurance of freedom or independence. He stated that in the case of Java the Javanese had given somewhat more assistance to the Dutch because in the past they had been given somewhat greater freedom. In the case of Australia, he said that obviously the Australians would fight to the finish because they were defending their own liberty and independence.

Mr. Murray told the Minister that he thought it was quite appropriate to explain to the Acting Secretary65 at the time of his coming interview the views which he had just presented, and that there was no impropriety in so doing. The question was raised whether the Minister envisaged a declaration regarding Iran solely by the United States or whether he contemplated a more extensive declaration, say by Soviet Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and China. He said that he had not given this matter great thought, but he was inclined to believe that a declaration by the United States alone would make a greater impression upon his people. He was also asked whether it was envisaged that the proposed declaration apply to Iran alone or whether he contemplated that it would apply to other countries in the Near East which were seeking complete independence. Here again he said he had no definite or final thought, but he felt that Iran was of such importance to the Allied Powers that perhaps it would be best to confine the declaration to that country.

The Minister elaborated somewhat on the question of collaboration between the Iranian forces and the Allied forces in taking up the question of an American officer to control the Finance and Supply Divisions of the Iranian War Department.66 This will be covered in a separate memorandum.

  1. Wallace Murray, appointed Adviser on Political Relations, March 13, 1942.
  2. Sumner Welles.
  3. For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 222 ff.