740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 628
Briefing Book Paper 1

top secret

Withdrawal of Allied Forces From Iran

i. the problem

The problem is that of the attitude to be adopted towards the question of withdrawal of Allied forces from Iran, which was raised formally by the Iranian Government in identical notes addressed to the British, Soviet, and United States Governments on May 19, 1945.2 It is understood that representatives of the British Government intend to raise this question at the Conference.

ii. background

British and Russian forces invaded Iran August 25, 1941, after the failure of Reza Shah Pahlevi to respond satisfactorily to Anglo-Russian demands for expulsion of German fifth columnists. The presence of Russian and British troops in Iran, and their use of Iranian communications, were legalized by the Anglo-Soviet-Iranian Treaty of January 29, 1942.3 Under its terms, withdrawal of Russian and British forces will take place not later than six months after all hostilities between the Allied Powers and Germany and her associates have been concluded. (The treaty defines the term “associates” of Germany as “all other Powers which have engaged or may in the future engage in hostilities against either of the Allied Powers.”)

The presence of American forces in Iran is based on an Anglo-American agreement formalized in a directive of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, dated September 22, 1942,4 under which the American Army (Persian Gulf Command) was charged with operation of the southern section of the Trans-Iranian Railway for supply to Russia. Assumption [Page 950] of operational responsibility by the PGC was approved by the Soviet and Iranian Governments.

The Commanding General, Persian Gulf Command,5 publicly announced the termination of the PGC mission, effective June 1, 1945. American forces have been in process of withdrawal for several months prior to that date, and redeployment is continuing. The United States Government has responded6 to that effect to the Iranian note, giving formal assurances that withdrawal will continue as rapidly as military exigencies permit. After the completion of all contemplated redeployment movements, however, the War Department plans to leave in Iran some 3000 troops who will act as caretakers for American military installations pending disposal, and about 1500 Air Transport Command troops in southwest Iran, to service the military airport in Abadan, which is essential to the line of communications to the Far East. Neither of these units consists of combat troops.

The British Government has informed the Iranian Government,6 in reply to the latter’s note, that it is prepared to consider sympathetically the Iranian Government’s request that withdrawal of Allied troops from Iran begin before the final date fixed by the Anglo-Soviet-Iranian Treaty. The British Government has informed the Soviet Government6 that it wishes formally to propose that Allied troops should begin withdrawing from Iran pari passu and in stages before the final Treaty date and that military talks on this subject be initiated. In strictest confidence, however, the Department has been informed orally by the British Embassy that British withdrawal will take place only pari passu with the Russians, and that the British will insist upon maintaining in southwestern Iran a garrison for the protection of their petroleum installations and vital communications, which they consider indispensable to the successful prosecution of the Far Eastern war.

The official Russian attitude has not been made known, but it seems probable that the USSR will adopt one of two alternatives: in view of the continued presence in Iran of certain British and American units, the Russians may insist upon keeping certain of their troops in Iran; or they may effect an immediate and complete withdrawal, in order to acquire political credit in Iran vis-à-vis the British and United States Governments.

iii. recommendations

In the interests of facilitating restoration of Iranian administrative control and economy, which have been affected adversely by the [Page 951] presence of foreign forces, and in order to reduce the dangers of Allied friction over Iran, it is recommended that representatives of the United States Government adopt a sympathetic attitude towards the Iranian request for withdrawal of Allied troops, and favor the withdrawal of all forces whose presence in Iran is not required for the prosecution of the Far Eastern war.

In the event of Russian unwillingness to agree to withdraw its own forces in view of the continued presence of certain American and British forces in connection with the war effort, it is recommended that the United States representatives propose to the British and Russian representatives that both Governments agree to the progressive reduction of their forces pari passu on the basis of (1) numerical reduction and (2) reduction of areas occupied.

  1. Annex 11 to the attachment to document No. 177.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Text in Department of State Bulletin., vol. vi, p. 249.
  4. Summarized in T. H. Vail Motter, The Middle East Theater: The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1952), p. 192.
  5. Brigadier General Donald P. Booth.
  6. Communication not printed.
  7. Communication not printed.
  8. Communication not printed.