204. Despatch From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

No. 953


  • Embassy Conversation with Source Close to Shah

There is attached for the Department’s information a memorandum of a conversation which I recently had with a source2 close to the Shah in the presence of two members of the Embassy. In this instance it is believed that the memorandum is self-explanatory. It should be noted that this emissary of the Shah expresses on behalf of the Shah views which differ from those expressed by Acting Minister of the Court Amini. The Acting Minister has taken the position that it would be advantageous to Iran and to the Western world for the British to try to come to an oil settlement regardless of whether the Government of Iran is headed by Dr. Mosadeq or some other prime minister.

Loy W. Henderson



Memorandum of Conversation

Tehran, May 14, 1953.

On the evening of May 13, the Ambassador had a conversation with a person extremely close to the Shah. Commander Pollard, Embassy Naval Attaché, and Mr. Melbourne, First Secretary of Embassy, were present.

The emissary of the Shah stated he had a message from the Sovereign expressing strong appreciation for the efforts that the Ambassador had made during the period when pressure was being applied to oblige the Shah to leave the country. The Shah wished the Ambassador to know that he believed if it had not been for the actions of the Ambassador at that time the institution of monarchy in Iran would have been [Page 557] overthrown and the country would have been partitioned. Further, the emissary wished the Ambassador to know that the Shah deeply appreciated the continuing support for him which was being given by the American Government.

The emissary wished to make clear to the Ambassador certain fundamental features of the Shah’s policy toward Dr. Mosadeq. The latter had come to power as the result of careful planning over a period of several years before actually assuming power. He had stirred the emotions of the Iranian people when he took office, and he had had public and Majlis support. The Shah had not willingly agreed to make Mosadeq Prime Minister, but he had bowed to the forces behind him and now believed that the only way to obtain Mosadeq’s eventual dismissal from office was through the same parliamentary means which had granted him the premiership. The Shah believed that time was discrediting Mosadeq and that the Soviet menace to Iran had receded since the death of Stalin so that Mosadeq’s removal in a legal way would be achieved in the not too distant future. The Shah preferred this method to others, such as a military coup, an arbitrary move of the Shah removing Mosadeq and appointing another prime minister, the imprisonment of Mosadeq, his exile, or even his death at the hands of a Tehran mob. In all of these alternatives Mosadeq would be made a martyr or a source of serious future trouble. It was the Shah’s policy toward Dr. Mosadeq to bow slowly to Mosadeq’s pressure, but at the same time to regain as much ground as possible through taking advantage of shifting conditions. If the Shah had rigidly opposed Mosadeq, the Shah would have been completely eliminated, like a tree which would have crashed through the force of a violent wind. Such explanations were made by the emissary to depict the Shah’s policy, which he understood had caused a certain dissatisfaction on the part of American officials who wished the Shah to take a much stronger stand toward Mosadeq.

In discussing various personalities, the emissary said that the Shah did not extend confidence to the newly appointed Acting Minister of Court, Mr. Abol Qasem Amini. However, Amini was important under present circumstances and the Shah did not therefore wish to antagonize him. The emissary hoped that the Ambassador would keep the Shah’s attitude toward Mr. Amini in mind in determining his own relations with Amini.

Turning to a discussion of the oil situation, the emissary said that the Shah believed that it was in the real interest of Iran and of free world unity for the Ambassador in the course of official meetings with Dr. Mosadeq to discourage any attempts by the latter to discuss the oil question and possible means of settling it. Dr. Mosadeq was not serious in such talk. It would be possible to discuss oil matters, such as the [Page 558] question of compensation, only with a government other than that of Dr. Mosadeq. The emissary said the Shah was gratified that the Ambassador was following the practice of telling Dr. Mosadeq, when the question of oil was raised in the course of their official visits, that the United States was not in a position to make further efforts to help solve the oil problem and that if Dr. Mosadeq had any ideas in this regard it would be wise to bring them, by other means than the United States Government, to the attention of the British Government. The emissary concluded that although it would serve no useful purpose for oil discussions to be reopened with Mosadeq, nevertheless the United States and Great Britain should, without loss of time, reach a full agreement between themselves as to the kind of oil settlement which could be made with Iran in the future. It was important that the problem of Iran should not be aggravated by Great Britain and the United States pursuing conflicting policies with respect to it.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.00/5–1553. Top Secret; Security Information. Received May 22. A copy was pouched to London. Drafted by Henderson; the attached memorandum of conversation was drafted by Melbourne.
  2. At the bottom of the page is a handwritten note by Richards that reads: “In a personal letter LWH identifies source as Ernest Perron.”