Tehran Legation Files, Lot F–150

Memorandum by the Minister in Iran (Dreyfus)

Memorandum for the files, concerning the negotiations for the Agreement to Legalize the Presence of American forces.

Yesterday and today I spent several hours at the Foreign Office continuing the negotiations for the agreement to Legalize the Presence of American forces in Iran with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. Judging from the latter’s participation, he is one of the Treaty Experts of the Iranian Government. This morning we were joined by the Prime Minister. Each article was taken up separately and analyzed by them in Iranian and when each article had been examined the result of the deliberations was communicated to me.

The principal objections were: In Article III to the word “hereafter” line 10, page 4 of revised draft, inasmuch as exemptions were not approved from tax liability on income previously received. I do not believe the Iranians had in mind to collect any such back taxes but they preferred not to restrict their rights in this manner. They sensed that there might be objections in the Majlis to this language. In Article VI to the clause regarding the ownership and disposal of property in Iran as well as to the part referring to the enjoyment by all States of access on equal terms to the trade and to the raw materials of the world.

I pointed out that it seemed rather strange that there should be objection to the above now after I had been assured that the Iranian Government was ready to sign the agreement if only the slight changes were made referred to in my tel. 108270 striking out the clause “who are not members of the armed forces of the U.S.”

The Minister of Posts who was the spokesman at this meeting explained that opposition had developed when the matter was brought before the Cabinet for final approval. He said that some of the Ministers had expressed the view that the language of the agreement was too far-reaching and that if the pact were signed it might give the “suspicious” Russians and the British an opportunity to obtain similar [Page 485] privileges and they would take advantage of this means to grab or wring equal concessions or privileges which might be used to the detriment of the Iranians.

The Foreign Minister to give us an example of what might occur referred to the Macou Railroad which had been built by the Russians during the last war and also the road from Kazvin to Tabriz which the Russians held and refused to return to Iran until the signature of the Treaty of 1921.71

The Minister of Posts explained that the Iranian Government had now decided that it would be willing to negotiate with the American Government an agreement patterned after the Anglo-Soviet-Iranian pact eliminating the clause which provided for the defense of Iran against attack and including the language of Article VIII of our draft which stipulates that certain action under the present agreement will be undertaken only after consultation with the appropriate Iranian, British and Soviet authorities.

When I explained that the agreement had been proposed chiefly to legalize the presence of American troops in Iran and inquired as to the possibility of finding some brief formula to accomplish this, the Foreign Minister said that he would be glad to study this question and let me know the result in due course. He expressed the view that this might very well be accomplished through a simple declaration or exchange of notes and that this might be considered.

Ali Ardalan, the Chief of the 3rd Political Division who departed on November 27th for Ankara where he will be Counselor of the Iranian Embassy, had told me and other members of the Legation over and over again that Iran was ready to sign the agreement. The last request on the part of the Iranians was for the elimination of the clause “who are not members of the armed forces of the U.S.” Apart from that minor change the final Iranian and American texts had been agreed to. A conservative official like Ardalan could never have made these commitments about signing as recently as ten days ago without the full approval of the Foreign Minister. Besides, it will be recalled that at various times the press and also members of the Majlis had urged the necessity of negotiation [of] an agreement to legalize the presence of U.S. troops in Iran. What therefore is the explanation of this change of mind? In my opinion, the unfortunate incident arising from the non-return by President Roosevelt of the Shah’s visit during the recent Conference72 may have brought about [Page 486] this change of attitude on the part of the Iranians. I fear that this incident may not be forgotten for sometime by those Iranians who know about it. It was very unfortunate that the negotiations were so protracted. It must be explained that the delays did not occur in the Legation.

The Foreign Minister promised to give me a reply in writing by tomorrow explaining in detail the Iranian objections to the proposed draft. We shall then be able to telegraph the Department that the negotiations have come to nought and that in view of this situation I plan to proceed home on leave immediately.

L[ouis] G. D[reyfus,] Jr.
  1. November 30, p. 483.
  2. Treaty of Friendship, between Persia and the Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic, signed at Moscow, February 26, 1921, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. ix, p. 383.
  3. For correspondence on the Tehran Conference between President Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Churchill, and Soviet Premier Stalin, see Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Cairo and Tehran, 1943.