360. Letter From the Ambassador to Iran (Henderson) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Byroade)1
Yesterday morning I dictated a telegram summarizing some of the comments made to me by the Shah during our conversation of January 14 with regard to Iran’s need for additional American aid. When I saw the rough draft of this telegram I decided not to send it as a telegram but rather to forward it as an enclosure to this personal letter to you.
I am sending this summary of conversation in this informal fashion because I was afraid that if I sent it as a telegram it might make too great an impression upon the Department of State and other interested Departments. Although the Shah plays a great role in Iran it did not seem to me quite fair to Iran to disseminate throughout the Department and other agencies of the Government statements disadvantageous to Iran made by the Shah in one of his petulant moods.
During our conversation the Shah displayed considerable venom as far as Zahedi was concerned. He accused the ailing Prime Minister not only of bungling the elections but of taking a complacent attitude with respect to corruption. He said that up to this time Amini, the Minister of Finance, had not been guilty of corrupt practices but that he was now convinced that Amini, as well as Panahy, who is at present in charge of the Plan Organization, and Radji, Panahy’s Deputy, were out to make as much money for themselves as possible.
He then launched a vigorous attack upon Wright, the British Chargé d’Affaires. He said, “I do not know why the British should have sent as Chargé d’Affaires a person who is no diplomat. Wright has had no political experience. He seems to have been some kind of an economist.” The Shah further indicated that he expected to have nothing whatsoever to do with Wright. When I defended Wright His Majesty showed signs of temper and said it was not necessary for him to have relations with a mere Chargé d’Affaires. He is of course annoyed with Wright because he sent Perron, behind the back of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, to Wright for purposes of intrigue. Wright discussed the matter with the Foreign Minister who took it up with the Prime Minister, who, in turn, took it up with the Shah. I personally think Wright has done a noble job in this respect, but it would seem that for a time at least he has incurred the vindictive hostility of the Shah.[Page 902]
Since the pouch is going out in a few moments I will not have time to elaborate in more detail in this letter regarding my conversation with His Majesty. I believe I have written enough, however, to let you know that His Majesty is not easy to deal with these days. On the other hand this bad humor might be merely a reflection of internal troubles. [Page 903] During our conversation reference was made to domestic troubles of Amini whose wife the Shah told me with relish had been behaving badly in Europe. When I remarked that I thought Amini had been doing extremely well in the circumstances the Shah stated with emphasis that “no one could be having more family trouble than I encounter constantly”. I understand that among the members of his family who are causing the Shah worry are not only his Mother but the Empress herself.
I hope that the Shah’s outburst, as set forth in the enclosure, will not cause anyone in the Department who sees it from considering Iran’s need for further aid on any other than an unprejudiced sympathetic basis.
Loy W. Henderson 2
P.S. I am sending a copy of this to Evan Wilson in London. It is extremely important that the contents of this letter, particularly those portions relating to Wright, not be brought to the attention of the British Government.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 888.00–TA/1–1654. Secret.↩
- Henderson signed “Loy” above his typed signature, and initialed below the postscript.↩
- Vice President Nixon met with the Shah on December 11, 1953, in Tehran. Telegram 1341 from Tehran, December 17, reported that the Shah had reiterated to the Vice President his desire that a decision soon be made regarding “whether Iranian Army was to be organized, equipped and trained to defend Iran in case of external attack from any direction, or army was to be used merely for maintaining internal security.” For telegram 1341, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, pp. 850–852 (Document 396). The Vice President reported to the NSC on his trip to the Far East, South Asia, and Iran on December 23, 1953; see ibid., pp. 854–855 (Document 398).↩
- Assistant Secretary Byroade, not Secretary Dulles, delivered a speech on Iran on December 12; see Department of State Bulletin, December 28, 1953, pp. 894–896.↩