Memorandum by the Political Adviser to the United States Delegation at the United Nations (Hare) to the United States Representative at the United Nations (Stettinius)

top secret
USSC 46/34

In your conference on January 21 regarding the situation resulting from the raising of the question of Soviet-Iranian difficulties before the Security Council, the Department’s memorandum entitled “Soviet-Iranian Relations” (USGA/Gen/24)44 was taken as the basic document but you suggested that it might be useful to record certain additional matter which was mentioned during the conference, and also to have a collection made of the documents to which reference had been made. This memorandum and its attachments45 have accordingly been prepared in compliance with your suggestions.

[Here follow accounts of the historical background of relations between Russia and Iran, the problem of Iranian oil, and the question of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iran.]

[Page 308]

United States Policy

In its weekly “Current Foreign Relations”46 the Department summarized the then existing situation in northwestern Iran as follows:

“At the end of one month of disturbances in Iranian Azerbaijan the situation is as follows: The insurgent ‘Democrats’ are in firm control of all important towns and roads of Azerbaijan. They have elected a Governmental Assembly of Azerbaijan which has appointed a Cabinet. The ‘Democrats’ have demanded autonomy for Azerbaijan in all matters except foreign relations and war. They have acted throughout under the direction of the Soviets, although the latter have been careful not to take a direct part in the movement. The Iranian Government has been unable to act effectively, either directly against the insurgents, or through appeals to the Soviet authorities in Iran and Moscow. Iranian officials in Azerbaijan have been rendered powerless and Soviet forces have blocked all attempts to send assistance from outside the area. While at first the ‘Democratic’ movement had little popular support, it is gaining strength through the evident inability of the Iranian Government to cope with it. The disaffection may spread to other parts of the population, including the tribes. The Iranian Government is unable to restore its authority so long as Soviet troops are in Iran. It may also be difficult to do so after their withdrawal. There is widespread feeling among the Iranians that their only hope is US assistance since they fear the British might compromise with the USSR on spheres of influence. The people of Azerbaijan have just cause for complaint against the central government, whose administration in Azerbaijan has been oppressive, corrupt and inefficient. If a solution is not soon found, Iran is likely to be dismembered with the northern provinces eventually becoming parts of the USSR.

“Although oil has not been mentioned during the current dispute, some observers believe the Iranian Government’s refusal to grant broad concessions in northern Iran to the USSR in 1944 is the cause of the present difficulty.47

“Appreciating the seriousness of the issues involved, especially in relation to the success of the UNO, we have recently formulated three principles which we have applied to Iran and to which we believe the three major powers should adhere: There is no longer any need for foreign troops in Iran and they should be withdrawn as rapidly as possible. Iran has the sovereign right to move its armed forces about its territory without hinderance. Iran is entirely free to grant or withhold commercial concessions on its own territory on any terms agreeable to it and without being submitted to external pressure.”

[Here follows discussion of the attachments to this memorandum.]

While various factors of course enter into the formation of our [Page 309] policy, it would seem that emphasis should be laid on (1) the importance of this as a test case in assuring a free hearing and just decision to a small state victim of large state aggression and, even more important, (2) the danger that this situation holds of serving as a focal point for Anglo-Russian disagreement with all the grave implications which might derive therefrom.

  1. Ante, p. 289.
  2. Attachments not printed.
  3. A booklet prepared weekly by the Department of State in order to summarize major developments of diplomatic character for the information of the Foreign Service. During December 1945, its name was altered, temporarily, to the Weekly Review. The three paragraphs here quoted were taken from the Weekly Review of December 20, 1945, p. 7.
  4. For documentation on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. v, pp. 452 ff.