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

4812. 1. Nothing sufficient interest warrant tel occurred Turk Emb dinner June 6 (Emtel 4736 June 6).2 Dinner furnished opportunity, however, for me meet Qavam and observe his apparent relations with other prominent Irans such as Ala, Hakimi, Rais, etc. He seemed to be in surprisingly good mental and fair physical condition. He was poised, affable, showed lively sense of humor. His personality dominated grp, all [Page 247]mbrs who showed him marked respect. Relations between him and Hakimi, which at one time were strained seemed cordial as were those with Ala. I avoided pol convs during even but agreed have dinner quietly with Qavam on June 10, at home mutual friend.

2. I learned on June 10 that Shah, who had been planning stay in Caspian resort until June 16, had unexpectedly returned evening June 9. Rumors immed began fly about reason return. It was alleged for instance that conspiracy had been discovered among high army officers to effect coup d’état in coop with Tudeh. It was also said that disagreements had developed between Shah and Ala over who shld be new pres of Majlis. Another story was Shah had returned in order make nec preparations for new PriMin to replace Mosadeq. In order obtain Ala’s analysis current pol situation, I made appointment see him noon June 11 and also asked him arrange mtg for me with Shah.

3. During private dinner with Qavam at house our mutual friend I again found Qavam alert and energetic. He was by no (rpt no) means somnolent, senile character described by certain columnists. He stated at outset his willingness assume responsibilities PriMin in case Shah shld desire him do so, but insisted he not (rpt not) seeking job. He did not (rpt not) ask me to give him support. Qavam told me he had always advocated friendly relations with US; had made enemies in certain grps in past by showing preference for Amers when fon advisers seemed necessary. He defended his appointment Tudeh mbrs in one his previous cabs on ground that he believed their actions in office wld disillusion many progressive Irans who at that time thought it possible coop with Commies.3 He considered experiment successful since there was no (rpt no) longer appreciable demand on part any Irans except those willing see Iran fall under Sov control for coop with Tudeh elements. He intimated that if Shah wld ask him become PriMin he wld include in cab such figures as Fhakimi [Hakimi] as MinInt; Soheili and Mansour, one of whom as MinForAffs. He said he might recommend Entezam as Min Court and Ala as Amb US. He wld fill other cab positions with mbrs various previous cabs, possibly including mbrs of Razmara cab who wld no (rpt no) longer be boycotted. He said he might appt mbrs various leaders NF to positions resp if they willing to accept. His idea was make these appointments of such character that country wld begin again to respect its govt and officials.

4. Qavam said one matter which troubled him greatly was difficulty which he or any other successor Mosadeq wld have in preventing complete bankruptcy govt. His understanding was govt wld encounter real finan crisis latter part June. He thought probably quickest way ob[Page 248]tain funds was sale oil stored Abadan. Did I think US market perhaps some US Cos wld be willing under certain conditions purchase this oil. I replied in my opinion Iran wld be making mistake try sell this oil to any customer other than AIOC. I did not (rpt not) believe US Govt wld purchase oil in present circumstances or that any resp US firm wld care start feud with AIOC by buying it. Qavam asked if there was possibility that US in order help Iran meet crisis wld give it temporary budgetary assist. I said I cld not (rpt not) say precisely what US Govt wld do but I did not (rpt not) think it wld be able give finan aid unless Amer public cld be convinced that Iran was doing everything possible help itself. At present US public thought that Iran was not (rpt not) doing all possible help itself. It considered Iran by assuming unreasonable attitude re oil dispute, was at least partly resp for its present fin difficulties. Unless Amer public opinion shld believe that Iran was energetically and sincerely trying settle oil dispute on reasonable and fair basis it wld be certain to object to extension US finan aid to Iran.

5. Qavam said if he PriMin he wld do everything within reason come understanding with Brit. But how about Brit? Did I have any reason believe Brit on their part wld meet friendly Iran approach half-way? Neither he nor (rpt nor) any other PriMin cld afford capitulate entirely. Public sentiment Iran cld not (rpt not) be entirely ignored even by strong central govt. He wld like to come to equitable agrmt with Brit not (rpt not) only because he wanted friendly relations with Brit and because Iran needed fon financial assist but because he anxious restore Iran’s good name in business world so that fon investors wld not (rpt not) be afraid to take risks in country. In view its geographical and intl position econ develop of Iran shld be speeded up. Fon investments shld therefore be encouraged.

6. I asked Qavam if he had any idea as to kind of solution oil prob which might be agreeable to Brit, wld restore confidence business world in country and wld at same time be acceptable to Iran public. He countered by saying he had intended to ask me precisely same question. I told him I not (rpt not) sufficiently acquainted with sentiments Iran public or with current Brit attitude to venture answer. I said however that for purpose discussion I might ask him what his views wld be with re to some kind arrangement under which an intl private company wld undertake operation oil industry Iran on behalf Iran Govt and oil produced wld be sold to AIOC at prices to be agreed upon. These prices wld be so set as to permit sale Iran oil on competitive basis in world markets and at same time to provide for payment compensation installments. Qavam said he had been thinking of some kind of arrangements along these lines. Possibility it might be acceptable to Iran people if intl company wld be of really international character and wld include Iranians on same basis as natls of other countries. I said I did [Page 249]not (rpt not) know what attitude UK wld be to such arrangement but I was sure it wld not (rpt not) give any consideration to it unless Brit cld play role in intl company at least as great as that of natls of other countries and unless there wld be absolutely no (rpt no) discrimination in employment Brit techs. Qavam said it seemed to him only fair that Brit shld have participation to same extent as natls other countries and that Brit techs shld be employed. He thot it important however that such company shld be of bona fide intl character and that Brit technicians shld not (rpt not) dominate operation industry. He added it extremely important for him to know immed Brit current attitude re oil problems. I help him in this respect. I said I cld not (rpt not) tell him what present Brit attitude was. I had impression Brit did not (rpt not) desire discuss this matter with Iranians thru third parties. My suggestion was that best way to ascertain Brit attitude was to go direct to Brit. He turned to our host and asked that efforts be made for him to see Middleton, Brit Chargé d’Affaires, as soon as possible.

7. Qavam said that if he or any other PriMin shld be successful in obtaining settlement oil problem he hoped US wld increase its efforts to help in speeding up econ develop Iran. All Iranians grateful for US Pt IV assist but something should be done on more massive scale in order stimulate production of country and restore confidence public in Iran econ.

8. I outlined to Middleton morn June 11 my conv with Qavam and told him that probably Qavam wld try to get in touch with him. I also talked with Middleton along lines suggested in Deptel 2810, June 9 which arrived few moments before my apptmt with him.4 Middleton said that he was prepared see Qavam if latter shld desire talk to him. He added that several days ago he had asked his govt for instrs as to what he shld say in case he shld be queried by Shah or other Iran leader as to whether Brit wld be willing to meet half way friendly approaches of some new Iran govt. He had not (rpt not) as yet recd reply but he proposed if queried either by Shah (who had indicated that he wld like see him privately) or by Qavam that altho he had no (rpt no) instrs on subj he personally was convinced that genuinely friendly approach on behalf Iran Govt wld find Brit Govt conciliatory and reasonable. During my various talks with Middleton I have considered it unwise [Page 250]tell him in so many words that Shah had endeavored thru me to find out what Brit attitude might be if approached by new friendly Iran Govt. I have however made it clear to him that Shah seemed to be genuinely worried as to whether new govt cld expect friendly and reasonable treatment from Brit. Middleton indicated to me that he inclined believe his govt had not (rpt not) made up its own mind as yet what its final position re Iran oil dispute should be. He said he had impression there was considerable difference opinion among various groups in London.

9. Ala told me during my talk with him noon June 11 that Shah had returned Tehran earlier than planned at earnest request Ala who had urged him for sake his own prestige to return at once. Ala said rumors re army plots for Tudeh coup totally unfounded. He added he had several very frank talks with Shah since latter’s return. He had urged Shah to decide at once who successor to Mosadeq shld be to inform that successor and to suggest to that successor that he prepare immed for Shah’s exam tentative list members new Cabinet. He had told Shah that unless Shah moved with speed and determination respect for him among leaders of country wld decline to such extent that throne might be endangered. Financial situation had become so acute that at Cabinet meeting on June 10 Finance Minister had warned other ministers that country was now “in state of danger” and that he did not (rpt not) want to be held responsible for what might happen. Ala said list possible PriMins now (rpt now) apparently reduced to three, Qavam, Hakimi and Mansour, in that order. I told Ala of my conversation preceding even with Qavam pointing out that Qavam had not (rpt not) asked me intervene on his behalf and that I had no (rpt no) intention doing so. Ala seemed to be somewhat more in favor of Qavam than he had been in our previous conversations. Altho he was not (rpt not) enthusiastic about any of candidates he mentioned fact that Shah also seemed to be more friendly towards Qavam than previously. He said one advantage of Qavam was that latter’s stature in Iran so great that foremost leaders of country wld not (rpt not) feel it below their dignity to serve under him. He told me I was to see Shah on 11 o’clock morning June 12. He was sure Shah wld ask my advice and he hoped I wld not (rpt not) hesitate to let Shah know that time had come for positive action. I told Ala I had been reliably informed that Shah was still intimating in confidence that US Govt had been and was supporting Mosadeq. I intended during my conversation with him to try to enlighten him in this respect. I surprised that in view my various talks with His Majesty and statements which I had made to Ala, Shah seemed misunderstand US attitude. Ala said only explanation he cld offer was that possibly various persons hostile to Mosadeq had been telling Shah that Mosadeq had survived thus far only because of US support.

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10. I asked Ala if Shah had worked out plan for bringing about change govt. Ala said tentative plan was (a) selection by Shah of successor; (b) approval by Shah of Cabinet list prepared by person selected; (c) obtaining consent most members on list to accept Cabinet post; (d) discreet organization of trusted members of Senate and Majlis into groups prepared act quickly; (e) upon presentation by Mosadeq of his resignation in accordance with custom fol opening of new Majlis Shah wld accept resignation PriMin; (f) respective groups in Senate and Majlis wld then endeavor obtain confirmation new govt. I asked Ala if he thought all this cld be done secretly. Were not (rpt not) leaks likely occur? Wld not (rpt not) Mosadeq find out what was going on before submitting resignation? Might he not (rpt not) launch violent attack upon Shah and members Royal Family? Was it not (rpt not) likely also that Mosadeq might find excuse delay submitting resignation to Majlis? Ala admitted these possibilities but said only other alternative wld be for Shah to take steps personally to remove Mosadeq without waiting for vote lack confidence. Shah doubted, however, constitutionality move this kind. Ala said that since Shah wanted to act in constitutional manner he wld have to incur risk of being attacked by Mosadeq. Both Shah and Ala knew that Mosadeq for some time had been collecting evidence of activities on part Shah and Royal Family which if made public might be damaging. It was possible Mosadeq wld endeavor make this evidence public once he became convinced that Shah had decided he shld be replaced. Ala added that if Mosadeq shld fail to submit his resignation to Majlis he might be asked by Senate or Majlis to explain what he intended to do re Iran’s financial situation and if his remarks shld be unsatisfactory, as they probably wld be, there cld be vote indicating lack confidence in govt.

11. I asked Ala about struggle for Pres of Majlis. Ala said Shah determined to have Emami (Imam Jumeh). Altho considerable opposition not (rpt not) only from NF but also from many in opposition who thought it mistake to have cleric preside over Parliament. Maki had informed Ala on evening June 9 that if Shah’s interference on behalf of Emami successful National Front members wld leave Majlis and no (rpt not) quorum cld be obtained. I obtained impression there was strong divergence between Shah and Ala over this point and that Ala inclined towards Moazami as compromise choice. Ala admitted, however, that Moazami, altho not (rpt not) member NF, was close friend Mosadeq and if elected President might use this position frustrate effort to have Mosadeq replaced.

Henderson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.13/6–1252. Top Secret; Security Information; Priority. Repeated to London. Received at 11:38 a.m.
  2. Document 77.
  3. Reference is to Qavam’s inclusion of three members of the Tudeh Party in his Cabinet during his Premiership in 1946.
  4. In telegram 2810 to Tehran, June 9, the Department suggested that the British be asked to send a message indirectly to the Shah in order to “greatly reassure him upon an aspect which must be of major concern in relation appt PM to succeed Mosadeq. Brit might by suitable means indicate that shld a new govt come to power giving tangible evidence of sincere desire to reach equitable oil agreement, they wld meet such Govt half way and wld make every effort consistent Brit natl interest and commercial realities arrive promptly at mutually satisfactory settlement.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 788.13/6–652)