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162. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

3397. 1. I dislike remaining inactive at time when monarchical institution which we have in past regarded as stabilizing influence country is in grave danger (Embassy telegram 3393, February 25 repeated London 1102, Baghdad 80, Madrid Unn).2 I realize that for number years in view of peculiar situation Iran it has been one of our policies to support Shah. During last two years it has become increasingly clear that Shah is weak reed. His inability to take decisions coupled with his tendency to interfere in political life has on occasions been disruptive influence. Nevertheless Shah and court are basically pro-West and their present opponents, which include not (repeat not) only radical wing Iran party and other nationalist movement elements but also Tudeh are in general either unfriendly to West or at best neutral. It would be mistake for us to take position re dispute between Mosadeq and court which would result in coalescence nationalist movement and Tudeh. On other hand collapse of monarchy at this moment leaves clear field to Mosadeq who surrounded by influences not (repeat not) particularly friendly to West.

2. One of our problems is that those groups in Iran which are anti-West or neutralist are in general inclined to be dynamic while those which are inherently friendly toward West are for most part passive and seemingly incapable of organized action. Even Zahedi who has been more dynamic than most political leaders fairly friendly to West, has allowed himself meekly to be arrested. His arrest would seem eliminate any action against Mosadeq by army.

[3.] I would not (repeat not) hesitate to take some action here to stimulate defense of Shah if I could see any hope of success. For moment I see no (repeat no) hope; nevertheless members of Embassy and other American agencies here endeavoring discreetly to ascertain whether any political or other forces exist which might at least in name of Shah oppose this latest Mosadeq move. Story of Shah’s imminent departure may leak prior his departure. Unless it does it may be difficult to assess attitude various groups re Shah since after his departure few likely to indicate support for him.

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4. Have no (repeat no) objection British Government being informed but would prefer details not (repeat not) be furnished which if leaked might serve in identifying source my information.

Henderson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/2–2653. Top Secret; Security Information; NIACT. Repeated NIACT to Madrid, London, and Baghdad. Received at 9:24 a.m.
  2. Document 161.