891.01A/226a: Telegram

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

182. Officers of Department have had two conversations with Iranian Minister regarding substance of your 355, April 6 and have emphasized following points:

From the first, Department has insisted that we would lend assistance in providing advisers only if they were assured of full cooperation from Iranian authorities.
We regard Sheridan’s work organizing food supply as vitally important to Iran and consider that it is essential from Iranian point of view that he have adequate American staff. Events have shown that Iranian staff alone is unequal to the task.
Millspaugh was selected and given wide powers precisely because it was felt that a strong man was needed to combat critical Iranian financial troubles. Saleh was first to insist that Millspaugh should have at least as much authority as during his previous service in Iran.
Early completion of Schwarzkopf and Timmerman arrangements is important because they cannot act on Iran’s behalf until given necessary authority.

It is believed Iranian Minister has reported these views to his Government.

Minister expresses belief that situation is not so serious as it may seem to you and urges that Department be patient and allow time for things to work out. He asserts that pressure by Soviets or British or both is responsible for any lack of cooperation on part of Iranian Government and states Iran is not a free agent. In support of this thesis, he claims Qavam was forced out of office because he would not accede to British wishes.19 Minister says present cabinet will not dare oppose British or Russians, fearing same fate as that of Qavam. Points to expulsion of Vivian20 from Azerbaijan as evidence that even [Page 524]United States cannot oppose Russia. He regards delays in Timmerman, Schwarzkopf contracts as due to administrative routine rather than political opposition.

In reply, we have said:

We have no evidence that Allied pressure is responsible for current Iranian attitude toward American advisers. Even if this were the case, however, the Iranian Government should know that its real interest lies in close relations with United States and should have courage to stand up against contrary pressures. Furthermore, the responsible Iranian officials should frankly inform you of the situation in order that this Government might take such steps as might be necessary to straighten things out with the British and Soviet Governments. We have already held conversations with both those Governments in order to make clear to them American policies in Iran, and we shall undertake to arrange matters with our associates, but we cannot be expected to do so unless we have clear evidence that Iran wants our assistance.
In view of urgency of the matter, we feel administrative delays are out of place.

For your information and guidance, Department is reluctant to consider withdrawal of American advisers from Iran. If present difficulties are in fact created by British and Russians, such withdrawal would play into their hands. We should prefer first to make every possible effort to come to an understanding with the British and Soviet Governments. On the other hand, if Iranian politics and corruption are primarily responsible, withdrawal would be a disservice to United Nations as well as to Iranian people. With the cooperation, or at least acquiescence, of British and Soviets it would seem possible to exert sufficient influence on Iranian Government to bring about a more satisfactory attitude and achieve worthwhile results, even if not so rapidly as might have been hoped.

We suggest that you continue your efforts with Iranian Government, reiterating interest of this Government in everything necessary to facilitate success of American advisers but avoiding anything in nature of an ultimatum. You may wish to point out, however, that the advisers constitute in a sense a guarantee to the United Nations that material aid to Iran will be properly and efficiently employed for the greatest benefit of that country. For example, wheat agreement21 specifies that Allies will supply wheat only if Sheridan’s recommendations are followed. Motorcycles for gendarmerie and trucks [Page 525]for Army are being supplied only because of Schwarzkopf and Ridley, since we are sure they will see that good use is made of them. Obviously, this sort of assurance cannot be relied upon if these men are not enabled to function effectively.

You should also repeat to Iranian authorities the points we have made with Minister here, omitting reference to Anglo-Soviet pressure unless Iranians raise this argument.

If the situation does not improve, it is contemplated that the Under Secretary or I shall personally call in the Minister to emphasize our position.

  1. Prime Minister Qavam resigned February 10, 1943, and was succeeded by Ali Soheily.
  2. Rex Vivian, an American national in the employment of the Iranian Government, had been the representative in Azerbaijan province of the American Food and Supply Adviser to the Iranian Government (Sheridan); for correspondence relating to the expulsion of Mr. Vivian, see pp. 338 362, passim.
  3. Food Agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Iran, signed at Tehran, December 4, 1942; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series 292, or 56 Stat. (pt. 2) 1835. For correspondence relating to this agreement, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iv, pp. 155 ff.