NEA Files: Lot 55–D36

Statement by the United States and the United Kingdom Groups

top secret


The American group observed that the main problem in Iran was the danger of Soviet infiltration and control. It was the policy of the United States, within the scope of the United Nations, to support Iran to the extent possible in maintaining its integrity without interference in the internal affairs of the country. Encouragement was being given, however, to social and economic development as a means of assuring greater stability.

With regard to negotiations for a Soviet-Iranian oil agreement, the advice which the American Government had consistently given to the Iranian Government was that the latter must decide for itself whether to accept or reject the Soviet proposal. The British approach had been similar except for the fact that the British Government had taken the view that, if the concession were rejected, this should be done in such a way as not completely to close the door to further negotiations. The American Government had not fallen in with this idea because it did not believe that any safeguard was possible once a Soviet foothold was attained. Neither did it consider it advisable for Iran to attempt to keep the door open to further negotiation unless it had a bona fide intention of arriving at some sort of agreement in the end. Despite its feelings in this regard, however, the American Government had taken care not to advise the Iranians other than to say that the decision was the responsibility of the Iranian Government.

The British group replied that the purpose of the British Government was identical with that of the United States Government in the sense that it was directed to the preservation of the independence and integrity of Iran. If Iran fell under Communist influence, its independence would be at an end; its strategic oil supply could no longer be counted on; and the security of the Middle East as a whole would be jeopardized. The only difference between the British and American viewpoints was that the British hesitated to give stronger advice to Iran than they had so far given without fuller examination of the possible consequences. If the Iranian Government were to find itself the object of invasion or penetration, what would the next step be? The Iranians would probably appeal to the Security Council and the British and American Governments would endeavor to secure a resolution in the Security Council calling upon the Soviet Union to withdraw. The Soviet Government would certainly veto such a resolution, [Page 593] and in any event would have set up a puppet government in Iran before any effective action could be taken. While the British Government had an open mind on the tactics to be pursued, they were anxious to know exactly what the United States Government had in mind if the taking of a firm stand by Iran were followed by Soviet retaliation in some form.

Further discussion of this question centered on its broad implications, not only in respect of Iran itself but of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East generally. It was the conclusion of both groups that the preservation of the political independence and the territorial integrity of Iran was essential to the maintenance of the security of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.