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76. Editorial Note

Prime Minister Mosadeq departed for The Hague in May 1952 to await the judgment of the International Court of Justice with regard to its jurisdiction over the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute. The British had filed a complaint against the Iranian Government with the ICJ on May 26, 1951. In its judgment of July 22, 1952, the ICJ found it did not have jurisdiction in the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute for two reasons. First, ICJ jurisdiction depended upon the terms under which any country acceded to the International Court of Justice. In its declaration of October 1930, the Government of Iran, in the view of the ICJ, had made clear that the jurisdiction of the ICJ could relate only to disputes between Iran and other countries over the terms of treaties signed after the date of the declaration. The British had argued that the ICJ’s jurisdiction extended to the adjudication of disputes arising from all treaties signed by the Government of Iran at any time. As the ICJ rejected that argument, the U.K. Government could not invoke the most-favored-nation status accorded British nationals in Iran in the Treaty of 1857 to establish standing under the jurisdiction of the ICJ. Secondly, the ICJ rejected the British argument that the agreement reached between the Government of Iran and the AIOC of April 29, 1933, constituted a treaty between the United Kingdom and the Government of Iran. Despite the fact that the U.K. took the dispute between the AIOC and the Government of Iran to the League of Nations and thus facilitated the agreement of April 29, 1933, that agreement, according to the ICJ, still constituted a simple concessionary agreement between Iran and a company and thus the U.K. had no standing.

For the full text of the ICJ’s judgment, see “Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. Case (United Kingdom v. Iran) Preliminary Objection, Judgment of July 22nd, 1952”, International Court of Justice, Reports of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders, Leyden, 1952, pages 93–115. Coinciding nearly to the day of Qavam’s resignation and Mosadeq’s reinstatement as Prime Minister on July 21, 1952, the Department of State commented in telegram 585 to London, July 26, that “The Hague Court decision coinciding with Mosadeq’s return to power will further strengthen his public position.” See Document 99.