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26. Memorandum for the Record1

SUBJECT

  • Conversation between Messrs. George McGhee, Burton Berry, and William Rountree of the State Department, and Allen Dulles and Kermit Roosevelt of CIA, Thursday, 10 May 1951

1. Mr. Dulles emphasized to Mr. McGhee the urgent importance that CIA attaches to the Iranian situation. He stated that he felt the time might come very shortly when the Shah would have to choose between making a fight for his kingdom and going into exile. If he chooses to fight, his course of action would probably have to be that of dissolving the Majlis, replacing Mossadeq as Prime Minister with a man upon whom he could rely, and governing the country as his father did, by decree. Mr. Dulles suggested that the Shah might require considerable moral and practical support before he would undertake such a course and that we should be prepared to throw all our weight where it would do the most good to preserve Iran from Soviet domination. He went on to say that he had discussed with DCI this proposition and that DCI had indicated his desire to do whatever would be helpful in this regard. Consideration might be given to sending an individual in whom the Shah had great personal confidence to Tehran to stiffen the Shah’s will to resist and to assure him of American support. In response to Mr. McGhee’s question, Mr. Dulles indicated that there seemed to be general agreement that Ambassador George Allen 2 would be the best possible person for the job, but that it was recognized that there were very grave practical difficulties in the way of his use.

2. In subsequent discussion it was agreed that it would not be feasible to send George Allen to Tehran under the circumstances. Various other individuals were considered in this connection, but most had to be discarded for one reason or another. Mr. Dulles suggested that Nelson Rockefeller might quite plausibly visit Iran as well as other parts of the Near East, and State Department representatives felt this suggestion had great merit. The names of Colonel Sexton and General Gerow were also mentioned, as were Mr. Charles Suydam and Dr. Claude E. Forkner. The latter two were considered to be particularly promising.

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3. It was agreed that Mr. Dulles, in the course of his forthcoming trip to New York, would get in touch with Mr. Suydam to discover from him what individuals in the US had made the most impression upon the Shah during his visit to this country. He would also see Dr. Forkner with a view to evaluating his possible usefulness and, in case he seemed to be the right man for the job, to find out whether he would be willing to go to Iran.

4. Mr. Rountree said that he would consult with Mr. Ray Muir to obtain from him suggestions on individuals who seem to know the Shah particularly well. Mr. Berry stated that he would keep in close touch with Mr. Roosevelt and that they would explore carefully the suggestions which Mr. Dulles had made together with such other approaches as might occur.3

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files, Job 79–01228A, Box 11, Folder 14, Iran. Top Secret.
  2. George Allen served as U.S. Ambassador to Iran during the Iran crisis of 1946.
  3. At the Director’s meeting held on May 24, Dulles reported that “he had been conducting discussions with State on Iran including the possibility of the Shah taking a strong stand. There was discussion of the probable necessity of getting money to Iran so that it would be available for emergency use.” (Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Intelligence, Job 80B01676R, Box 23, Folder 5, Director’s Staff Meetings)