The American Embassy in Iran to the Iranian Ministry for Foreign Affairs 11

No. 111

The Embassy of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs and has the honor to state that the Embassy understands the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company has made application, under the terms of its concession, for the grant of certain additional land on Abadan Island. The Embassy is informed that this land adjoins on the north the territory already occupied by the Company on Abadan Island and that it includes areas now occupied by a portion of the American military installations on the island.

Because it has expended large sums of money in the erection of these installations, including fundamental improvements to the airfield, [Page 496] the Government of the United States is, naturally, interested in any possible change in the ownership of the land in question. As the Embassy stated in its note No. 92 of November 27, 1944, the United States plans to seek agreements with the governments concerned whereby American civil aircraft may enjoy landing rights after the war at airports which the United States has constructed or improved during the course of the war.

It is felt that the substantial contribution made by the American Government in the development of the Abadan airfield entitles it to equality of treatment with any other foreign government, foreign agency, or foreign private company in so far as the post-war use of the field is concerned. Accordingly, the Department of State has instructed the Embassy to request assurances that American aircraft will receive no less favorable treatment after the war, with regard to utilization of the airport in question, than that which may be accorded any other foreign airplanes, including those operated by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company or any other British company or agency.

If such assurances are given, the United States Government will have no objection to the proposed transfer of land on Abadan Island to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

It will be understood, of course, that this acquiescence would not affect the existing arrangements for war-time use of the field by the American military authorities nor the settlement of questions relating to compensation for the funds and effort expended by the American Government in the development of the airport and other installations on Abadan Island.

It would be appreciated if the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs would consult the appropriate section of the Ministry of Finance with respect to this question and advise the Embassy as soon as possible whether the Iranian Government is able to give the desired assurances.

The Embassy avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Imperial Ministry the assurance of its highest consideration.

[In a conversation between the Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Alling) and the Counselor of the British Embassy (Wright) on January 5, 1945, agreement was reached that the United States would modify the statement of assurances desired from the British to the extent that no objection would be raised to the postwar operation of the Abadan Airfield by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company for the sole use of the Company’s own planes in accordance with the terms of its concession; in case the field were opened to public use, American aircraft would be accorded equal [Page 497] treatment. In telegram 18, January 13, 1945, 9 p.m., the Ambassador in Iran was instructed so to inform the Iranian Government with a request for agreement thereto and “assurance that American planes would be permitted to use Abadan airfield in emergencies caused by weather or mechanical needs.” (891.248/1–545) This was done by the Ambassador in note 151 of January 18 (891.248/1–1845) but no reply was received to this and other inquiries on the subject.

The Air Transport Command continued to operate the airport during and after the war. In telegram 648, November 24, 1945, noon, the Department made known to the Ambassador the desire of the War Department to turn over operation of the airport to Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. (TWA) for a limited period, in connection with the program to withdraw American troops from Iran by January 1, 1946 (891.7962/11–2445). The oral agreement of the Iranian Foreign Office to operation of the airport by TWA for three periods of two months each was conveyed to the Department in telegram 1114, December 12, 1945, 6 p.m. (891.248/12–1245).]

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department in despatch 146, December 11, from Tehran; received January 5, 1945.