891.00/11–2345: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Harriman)

2386. Please deliver the following communication urgently to the Soviet Govt:56

“The Government of Iran has informed the Government of the United States that armed uprisings have taken place in areas of [Page 449] northern Iran where Soviet troops are stationed; that the Iranian Government has directed certain of its armed forces to enter those areas for the purpose of reestablishing internal security and its own authority; that Soviet military commanders have refused to permit these forces to proceed; and that consequently the Iranian Government has not been able to carry out its responsibility for the maintenance of peace and order in Iranian territory.

It will be recalled that on December 1, 1943, Marshal Stalin, Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt signed in Tehran a declaration in which they stated that their Governments were ‘at one with the Government of Iran in their desire for the maintenance of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran’. This Government has entire confidence that the Governments of the Soviet Union and Great Britain are just as zealous as the Government of the United States meticulously to abide by the assurances contained in this declaration. In the view of this Government the fulfillment of these assurances requires that the Government of Iran should have full freedom, without interference from Soviet, British, or American military or civil authorities, to move its armed forces through Iran in such a manner as it may consider necessary in order to preserve its authority and to maintain internal security.

The Government of the United States realizes that any Soviet commanders in the areas concerned who may have prevented the free movement of Iranian forces may have been acting without the sanction of the Soviet Government. If the Soviet commanders have been acting without instructions in this matter, it is assumed that the Soviet Government is issuing to them instructions in keeping with the declaration referred to above. In any event the situation which has arisen has convinced the American Government that it would be in the common interest for all Soviet, British, and American troops to be withdrawn immediately from Iran. As long as any of these troops remain in the territory of a friendly government, incidents and misunderstandings are likely to occur. The Government of the United States has already reduced its forces in Iran during the present year from a maximum strength of approximately 28,000 to less than 6,000. There are no American combat troops in Iran. Those who remain are engaged in activities exclusively of a service nature connected with the liquidation and disposal of military supplies and the operation of certain important communications connected with demobilization. While the immediate withdrawal of these troops will cause considerable inconvenience to this Government, nevertheless instructions are being issued to the American military authorities in Iran to take immediate steps to effect the complete withdrawal of all American forces from Iran by January 1, 1946. This Government proposes that the British and Soviet Governments issue similar instructions to their commanders and that arrangements be made immediately for the complete withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iran by January 1, 1946. Immediate steps to effect such withdrawal would dispel any doubt regarding the intentions of the three Governments to carry out the assurances given by them. In making this suggestion the Government of the United States is aware that no undertaking has been given that these troops are to be removed from Iran before March 2, 1946. On the other hand, now that hostilities have ceased, it sees no compelling reason for them to remain until that date. It is of the opinion [Page 450] that immediate steps to effect withdrawal by January 1 not only would obviate possible misunderstandings but would also be a fitting recognition of the notable contributions which Iran, a member in good standing of the United Nations, has made to the common war effort.

Nations such as Iran were encouraged at the United Nations Conference at San Francisco to place full trust in the friendly intentions and good will of the permanent members of the Security Council. The Government of the United States is confident that the Soviet Union and Great Britain are no less anxious than the United States, in dealing with nations such as Iran, to follow a line of action which will make it clear that the trust of these nations in the permanent members of the Security Council has not been misplaced.

Similar proposals are being made to the British Government.”

  1. In telegram 3954, November 25, 1945, 2 p.m., the Ambassador in the Soviet Union reported that this communication had been “delivered by letter to Molotov about 2 p.m., November 24, Moscow time.” (891.00/11–2545)