The Secretary of State to the Chargé of the Soviet Union (Gromyko)

The Secretary of State presents his compliments to the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and refers to the note of May 11, 194350 presented by the Chargé d’Affaires with respect to the memorandum on the aims of American policy in Iran which was handed to the Ambassador of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at Tehran on April 3, 1943 by the American Minister at Tehran.51

The Government of the United States welcomes the assurance of the Soviet Government that it concurs in the necessity of maintaining the closest contact and collaboration between the American and Soviet representatives in Iran with a view to the victorious end of the present war and securing a lasting peace in Iran after the war.

This Government also appreciates the readiness of the Soviet Government to supply the Government of the United States with information on Soviet-Iranian relations and to discuss fully and frankly any questions which may arise affecting the Soviet and American representatives in Iran. As the Soviet Government has been assured previously, the Government of the United States fully reciprocates the attitude of the Soviet Government.

In the note of the Chargé d’Affaires under reference, mention is made of an apparent divergence in the definition of the aims and functions of American troops in Iran, as set forth in the memorandum of April 3, 1943, of the American Minister at Tehran and in the draft agreement52 between the United States and Iran regarding the presence of American troops in Iran, a copy of which was given by the Department to the Soviet Ambassador at Washington.

The Chargé d’Affaires remarks that in the memorandum of April 3, 1943, it was stated that American technical military units were stationed in Iran only to support the British Military Forces, which retained full control over transport lines in the south of Iran, whereas in the draft agreement between the United States and Iran it is provided that the United States shall have the right to “use, maintain, guard and control, in part or in their entirety, any of the means of communication within Iran, … whenever such use, maintenance, [Page 467] protection and control may be found advantageous for the prosecution of the war.”

It is believed, from the remarks of the Chargé d’Affaires, that, in the course of translating, retranslating and paraphrasing, the sense of the memorandum of April 3, 1943 may have been misinterpreted. That memorandum was intended to inform the Soviet Government that technical troops of the American Army had been sent to Iran at the request of the British Government as the result of Moscow conferences between Mr. Stalin and Mr. Churchill in August 1942. It has always been the understanding of the United States Government that the sole mission of these United States forces was to operate transportation facilities, under general British direction, for the purpose of increasing the amount of supplies being furnished the Soviet Union and that they were not in Iran to supplement or replace the British forces of Occupation. The United States Government did not desire to convey the impression that American troops were to support British forces in any military sense. The proposed agreement with the Iranian Government was drawn up to further the above-stated purpose of increasing the amount of supplies to the Soviet Government and for no other reason, and the terms of the agreement were phrased so as to permit the execution by the American troops of any operations which the governments concerned might deem it desirable for them to undertake in this connection.

It was not originally the intention of the American Government to conclude a formal agreement with the Government of Iran with respect to the presence of American troops in that country, since it was believed that the terms of the Soviet-British-Iranian Treaty of Alliance of January 29, 1942 provided appropriate authority for the introduction of American forces in Iran to assist the United Nations over-all effort. However, as the Soviet Government is doubtless aware, the absence of such an agreement aroused domestic criticism in Iran, and the Iranian Government requested that the entry and operations of the American forces be formalized by a written convention. It appeared, therefore, that future difficulties would be avoided if the status of American troops in Iran, in so far as the Iranian Government might be concerned, were clearly recognized and defined by that Government in a formal instrument.

Accordingly, the draft agreement in question was prepared with a view to securing for the American forces the greatest possible freedom of action vis-à-vis the Iranian authorities. However, the extent of American use and maintenance of communications in Iran will necessarily depend upon the agreements which have been or may be reached among the appropriate Soviet, British and American authorities with [Page 468] respect to the movement of supplies to the Soviet Union through Iran.

The provision that American troops might “guard and control” communications was inserted in the draft agreement in order that the American forces might take such measures as might be essential to protect their operations against any local threat to their security. The United States Government does not plan to assume primary responsibility for the security or control of any part of the Iranian communications.

It is desired further to point out that the position of the Soviet Union and Great Britain in Iran under the Treaty of Alliance of January 29, 1942 is specifically recognized by Article VIII of the draft agreement between the United States and Iran, which reads:

“Any action under the present agreement which affects privileges granted or obligations incurred under the Treaty of Alliance between Iran, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, signed at Tehran on January 29, 1942, will be undertaken only after consultation and agreement with the appropriate Iranian, British and Soviet authorities.”

In his note under reference, the Chargé d’Affaires refers not only to the Treaty of Alliance but also to “The agreement in principle reached by the Governments of the U.S.S.R. and Great Britain in January–February, 1942, in regard to the fact that the northern part of the trans-Iranian railroad be controlled by the Soviet authorities, and the southern part of the railroad, accordingly, be controlled by the British authorities …” American forces in Iran confine their operations to such areas as may have been mutually agreed upon with the appropriate United States, British and Soviet authorities.

With reference to the statement by the Chargé d’Affaires that “… the Soviet Government would like … to acquaint itself to a more complete extent with the agreement reached between the American and British sides on the question of exploitation of the southern communications of Iran,” it is understood that the British Government, which is fully informed with regard to its own arrangements with the Soviet authorities as well as those between Great Britain and the United States, has instructed its Ambassador at Moscow to discuss this question with the Soviet Government and to provide all information which may be desired. It is felt that discussions of the details of such arrangements can be satisfactorily carried on between the appropriate United States, Soviet and British officials.

It is hoped that the foregoing statement will clarify any uncertainties which the Soviet Government may have felt with respect to the purposes and status of American armed forces in Iran.

  1. Ante, p. 448.
  2. See telegram No. 153, March 31, 5 p.m., to the Minister in Iran, p. 351.
  3. Ante, p. 459.