891.77/716: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Standley) to the Secretary of State

146. Department’s 34, January 19, 9 p.m. Following my last conversation with Molotov, in which because of time limitations I did not take up the question of the operation of the Iranian railroad, I sent to him an aide-mémoire dated February 1, setting forth in paraphrase the information contained in the Department’s telegram.

The following is a paraphrase of a note dated February 6, received from Molotov:

“The information set forth in the aide-mémoire dated February 1 regarding the operation of the Iranian railroad by the American Army, has been received and brought to the attention of the Soviet Government.

The Soviet Government has not yet made a decision with reference to its reply to the Iranian Government in regard to the transfer of the operations under discussion. I am sending you herewith an aide-mémoire containing certain observations in regard to this matter as preliminary information.[”]

The following is a paraphrase in translation of the enclosed aide-mémoire:

“The Iranian Foreign Office submitted to the Soviet Government on December 12, 1942, through Ambassador Smirnov, a proposal for an exchange of notes which would affirm the agreement of the Iranian and Soviet Governments that the sections of the Iranian railroad, highways, and ports which have been administered with the assistance of English experts and officers in accordance with the Treaty of Alliance shall be administered by American experts and officers from now on. Reference was made in the text of the note to the agreement reached on this matter between the United States and Great Britain. No official information whatsoever has been received by the Soviet Government from the British Government regarding the terms and character of the agreement reached.

Up to the present time it is well known that Soviet and British authorities have exercised control over the communications in Iran in accordance with the Treaty of Alliance on January 29, 1942 between Iran, the USSR and Great Britain. Conversations were held at one time between British and Soviet representatives over various concrete questions concerning the organization of the exploitation and control of the Iranian railroad. An understanding was reached as a result of these conversations on a series of points for example on the formation of a mixed British-Soviet-Iranian Transportation Commission, on the payment of fees for freight in transit, as well as with reference to other questions. Although no final decision was made the point of view of the Soviet Government was nevertheless set forth with reference to the delimitation of spheres of control over [Page 442] the railroad, as well as regarding priorities for shipments of freight, et cetera. How much consideration was given in the Anglo-American agreement to the above mentioned understanding between the British and Soviet representatives concerning organization of the control and exploitation of the railroad would like to be known by the Soviet Government. The Soviet Government would also like to know how much consideration was given to the necessity of coming to an understanding on the questions which remain outstanding.

Mention is made in the text of the exchange of notes proposed by the Government of Iran of the transfer to the representative of the United States of those rights and functions which under article 3 of the Soviet-British-Iranian treaty were granted to the British authorities. Therefore as a signatory of this treaty, the Soviet Government did not consider it possible, pending the receipt from the British Government of official explanations and proposals, to give any reply whatsoever to the Government of Iran. Consequently, Smirnov was instructed to communicate with Mr. Bullard for the purpose of obtaining the pertinent information. Mr. Bullard expressed his astonishment, in reply to Mr. Smirnov’s representations, that the British or the American Governments had not officially informed the Soviet Government in due course. The British Minister furthermore promised to make inquiries of his Government in the premises and to inform the Soviet Ambassador of its reply.

The Soviet Government will make known to the Iranian Government its point of view on the question upon the receipt of the pertinent information from the British Government.[”]