Moscow Embassy Files, Lot F–150

Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. John D. Jernegan of the American Delegation

Participants: Mr. Iliff, Financial Counselor, British Legation, Tehran;
Mr. Holman, Counselor, British Legation, Tehran;
Mr. George Allen;
Mr. John D. Jernegan.

Subject: Allied Policy in Iran.

Mr. Holman and Mr. Iliff said that they were anxious to insure that Iranian problems received attention during the present conference. They felt that, as a first step, Mr. Hull, Mr. Eden and Mr. Molotov should discuss the matter in general terms and then, after reaching an agreement on principles, leave details to be thrashed out by subordinates. The British view was that the three powers should agree that the objective was to get as much as possible for the war effort out of Iran and at the same time to do as little damage to the Iranian economy as possible. Mr. Allen said that he thought it would be preferable to word this statement of policy a little differently since, as phrased, it would sound to the Iranian ear as if we admitted that we were going to harm Iran to a greater or lesser extent. It was suggested that the statement might be made to read “that the policy of the three powers is to facilitate in every way possible Iranian participation in the war effort and at the same time to render every practicable assistance to the Iranian economy.”

[Page 573]

Mr. Jernegan and Mr. Allen mentioned that it had been suggested in London and also in Tehran that a tripartite declaration by the United States, Great Britain and the Soviet Union should be made to renew the assurances already given that Allied troops would be withdrawn from Iran within six months after the end of the war. The purpose of such a declaration would be: (1) to give fresh assurance to the Iranian people that their sovereignty would be respected; (2) to give an assurance in this respect to the Soviet Government which, it was feared, looked with some suspicion on the presence of American troops in Iran; (3) to bring the United States for the first time into a joint pronouncement regarding Iran and thereby give evidence of Allied unity in that area. Mr. Holman and Mr. Iliff appeared to feel that this proposal might have merit.

The two British participants in the conversation stated emphatically that they regarded the continued functioning of American advisers in Iran, most particularly Dr. Millspaugh and his associates,12 as of the most vital importance. Mr. Iliff stated that he was convinced that withdrawal of the Millspaugh mission at this time could only result in catastrophe which would adversely affect not only British and American interests in Iran but also those of the Soviet Union, since a collapse must inevitably interfere with the movement of Lend-Lease supplies to Russia. Mr. Iliff stated he had, as recently as Sunday, October 17, urged Dr. Millspaugh not to resign, at least until the new Iranian Majlis (Parliament) should be elected and convene a month or six weeks hence. If the new Majlis should prove as refractory as the present one, then Millspaugh might well feel that he could do nothing except resign, but he should at least make the trial. Millspaugh had assured him (Iliff) that he would do nothing definite until after the conference at Moscow.

In connection with the discussion of Dr. Millspaugh’s position, Mr. Allen pointed out that the mission was not connected with the American Government and had been employed directly by the Iranian Government with only the interposition of good offices by the Department of State. The United States did not attempt to dictate policies or measures to Dr. Millspaugh, nor would it attempt to decide whether or not he should resign. Mr. Holman and Mr. Iliff said that they entirely understood this.

Both Mr. Holman and Mr. Iliff seemed to feel that there was a great deal of unjustified suspicion on the part of the Soviet authorities toward American and British activity in Iran, especially the activity of the American advisers. Mr. Iliff and Mr. Allen, however, also mentioned [Page 574] that the British and American Governments might be unduly suspicious of Soviet aims in Iran and pointed out that we had as yet no real reason to doubt that the Soviet Government would live up to its undertakings under the Anglo-Soviet-Iranian Treaty of Alliance of January 29, 1942.

It was agreed that it would be most desirable, once the chiefs had arrived at a general policy agreement, for the subordinate members of the British and American delegations to sit down with their Soviet counterparts to go over the details involved in carrying out that policy. Mr. Holman gave Mr. Jernegan a copy of a lengthy memorandum which had been prepared by the British Legation at Tehran on the various problems involved.

Mr. Jernegan suggested in passing that one means of working out a policy of close collaboration among the three interested great powers would be to bring Russian administrators into certain parts of the Iranian governmental machine in the same way that British and American representatives were now functioning, either as Iranian Government employees or as officials of their own government on loan to the Iranian Government. The particular field in which Soviet officials could be useful was that of grain collection and distribution in the northern provinces. This might serve a dual function of lessening Soviet doubts regarding Anglo-American policies and motives, and of increasing the efficiency of the grain collection and distribution organization in Iran. Mr. Holman and Mr. Iliff agreed that this suggestion was worthy of consideration, although they appeared to feel that it would be difficult to obtain Soviet assent.

John D. Jernegan
  1. For correspondence in connection with the Millspaugh Mission and other groups of Americans employed by the Iranian Government, see vol. iv, pp. 510 ff.