891.00/11–2847: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Iran


15. Shah’s plans re constitutional amendment (urtel 1101 Nov 121) has been subject considerable study by Dept. Brit Emb Wash acting on instructions informed Dept contents FonOff tel Tehran Nov 24 (London’s 6238, Nov 282) and requested our views. We have recently indicated to Brit Emb our substantial agreement with FonOff position, namely, that constitutional change does not appear necessary prerequisite Iran’s rapid development and that proposed grant greater power to Shah at this time might produce unwelcome discord in Majlis and consequently increase confusion in present Iranian political scene. We told Brit Emb that your views had not been requested by Shah or Iranian Govt and that you would not, we felt certain, volunteer any opinion in the premises.

Our tentative thinking on subject increased constitutional power for Shah is along following lines: We recognize essentially unstable nature of Iranian Govt and appearance of greater stability which might accrue from increase of Shah’s constitutional power. At same time, we do not believe that grant of power to Shah to dissolve Majlis would enhance appreciably speed or certainty of reform and development in Iran. In our view Majlis, by its very nature as public forum of popular leaders, is inherently safeguard against concerted foreign pressure upon any single source of power in Iran. Any diminution of Majlis power in favor apparent one-man rule would almost certainly evoke unsympathetic reaction on part American public. In this connection, it should be noted that no European monarch has constitutional power initiate dissolution parliament, except in Sweden where such power has not been used in past twenty-five years.

In addition above basic considerations, proposal for increase of Shah’s prerogatives would probably cause internal controversy welcome to predatory powers. Further, present Shah does not, in our opinion, appear to have used, or to give promise of using, his influence effectively to improve welfare Iranian people.

Above views are purely tentative and subject change on basis additional Emb info and analysis. Would welcome your views this connection.

Inference Brit interest constitutional reform in relation possible changes AIOC contract (urtel 8, Jan 3)2 is not clearly compatible with [Page 93] either Pyman’s3 statement personal purpose Eden visit (London’s 6531, Dec 174) or FonOff opposition to increase royal prerogative at this time (London’s 6238, Nov 28). General subject increase Shah’s constitutional powers might, in your discretion, be discussed with Brit colleagues Tehran and London.

While Taqizadeh front for Shah in drafting constitutional changes might tend minimize Majlis opposition during present session, basic considerations and stature of present Shah referred to above appear to us, in absence convincing Emb observations, controlling in present situation.

Sent Tehran 15 rpt London 60.

  1. Not printed. Documentation on the question of constitutional reform in Iran is included in the Iranian section of Foreign Relations, 1947, volume v .
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Lancelot F. L. Pyman, Assistant Head of the Eastern Department in the British Foreign Office.
  5. Not printed; it reported information from Mr. Pyman that Mr. Eden’s visit to Iran was “strictly personal and private” and resulted from a longstanding invitation from William Eraser, head of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, to inspect AIOC operations (032 Eden, Anthony/12–1747).