740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 629
Briefing Book Paper

top secret

Anglo-Soviet Rivalry in Iran

The Problem The problem is that of the attitude to be adopted towards the intensification of Anglo-Soviet rivalry in Iran, and towards the rapid deterioration of Iranian administration and economy. It is considered desirable that representatives of the United States Government initiate discussion of this problem.
It should be recognized that, while withdrawal of Allied forces from Iran would contribute to the solution of the Iranian problem, it would not constitute a total solution. Although the Iranian problem is only one aspect of the larger problem of Anglo-Soviet-American cooperation, it contains potentialities which, if permitted to develop, will assume proportions as disturbing to world peace as the problem of the Dardanelles in the last century and as disturbing to Allied cooperation as the Polish problem.
Background Anglo-Russian rivalry, largely covert in character, is producing a far-reaching and rapidly developing political and social cleavage in Iran, in which it appears that the Russians are supporting the leftist, socialist, and labor elements of the population, and the British are supporting the conservative, land-owning, and feudal elements. The development of this cleavage is contributing to the administrative and economic chaos which has resulted from the occupation, from Anglo-Soviet rivalry, and from the irresponsibility and ineffectiveness of the present Iranian ruling classes. The Iranian [Page 952] Government is no longer able to perform its functions, and no cabinet is able to remain in office more than a few weeks. If these conditions are permitted to continue, they will result in the fragmentation of Iran, more active political or even military intervention by the Great Powers, and a corresponding intensification of the present Anglo-Russian conflict.
Recommendation In the interests of international security, therefore, it is recommended that the United States representatives indicate that this Government is aware of extensive foreign interference in Iranian internal politics, and that it cannot condone such interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation. It would be desirable to seek assurances from Great Britain and the Soviet Union that Iran’s sovereignty and independence will be recognized and respected in spirit as well as in public declarations, and that both governments will adopt a policy of rigid non-interference in the internal affairs of Iran. It is earnestly hoped, moreover, that these representations by the United States Government will not result in adoption by either power of an attitude of negation towards Iran and its problems, but will serve to create an atmosphere conducive to constructive Allied cooperation directed towards the reconstitution of Iran as a strong nation.

It is further recommended that the Iranian Government be notified by the three powers jointly of the necessity of assuming the responsibilities and functions of a sovereign state, and of establishing a legitimate and strong government which will be representative of the population and effectively responsive to its needs. It would be desirable to make clear to the Iranian Government that the supplies and technical assistance required to facilitate Iran’s reconstruction and stabilization will be made available from the combined resources of Great Britain, Russia and the United States to the extent that Iran gives evidence of its desire and ability to fulfill these requirements.