811.203/219a: Telegram

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

20. Last paragraph your 435, December 13.30 It is desired that our military authorities in Iran shall have exclusive jurisdiction in respect of criminal offenses that may be committed in Iran by members of our military forces. You are requested so to state informally to Iranian authorities and to add that this Government considers that it has the right to such jurisdiction under international law but that if the Government of Iran feels that the matter should be made the subject of an agreement such an agreement might be embodied in an exchange of notes. If that procedure is agreeable to the Iranian Government you are authorized to submit a note as follows:

Begin note. It is the desire of the Government of the United States that the Service courts and authorities of its military and naval forces shall during the continuance of the present conflict exercise exclusive jurisdiction over criminal offenses which may be committed in Iran by members of such forces.

If cases arise in which for special reasons the Service authorities of this Government may prefer not to exercise the above jurisdiction, it is proposed that in any such case a written statement to that effect shall be sent to the Iranian Government through diplomatic channels, in which event it would be open to the Iranian authorities to assume jurisdiction.

Assurance is given that the Service courts and authorities of the United States forces in Iran will be willing and able to try and on conviction to punish all criminal offenses which members of the United States forces may be alleged on sufficient evidence to have committed in Iran and that the United States authorities will be willing in principle to investigate and deal appropriately with any alleged criminal offenses committed by such forces in Iran which may be brought to their attention by the competent Iranian authorities or which the United States authorities may find have taken place.

In so far as may be compatible with military security the Service authorities of the United States will conduct the trial of any member of the United States forces for an offense against a member of the civilian population promptly in open court and within a reasonable distance from the place where the offense is alleged to have been committed so that witnesses may not be required to travel great distances to attend the trial.

The competent American authorities will be prepared to cooperate with the authorities of Iran in setting up a satisfactory procedure for affording such mutual assistance as may be required in making investigations and collecting evidence with respect to offenses alleged to have been committed by members of the armed forces of the United States. As a general rule it would probably be desirable that preliminary action should be taken by the Iranian authorities on behalf [Page 456] of the American authorities where the witnesses or other persons from whom it is desired to obtain testimony are not members of the United States forces. In prosecution in Iranian courts of persons who are not members of the United States forces but where members of such forces are in any way concerned the Service authorities of the United States will be glad to render such assistance as is possible in obtaining testimony of members of such forces or in making appropriate investigations.

It is proposed that the foregoing arrangement shall be in effect during the present war and for a period of six months thereafter.

If the above arrangement is acceptable to the Iranian Government this note and the reply thereto accepting the provisions outlined shall be regarded as placing on record the understanding between our two Governments. End proposed note.

Agreements similar to that proposed have been concluded with several countries including the United Kingdom and are in process of negotiation with other countries in which United States forces are stationed.

It is suggested that you inform the commanding officer of the United States forces in Iran of the action which is being taken and that you discuss with him any important questions concerning the matter which might arise.