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

263. 1. During my talks this morning with Qavam our conversation limited for most part to urgent need of Iran for financial aid. Nevertheless other matters were touched upon which might be of interest.

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2. Qavam remarked that during last two years, as result of policies of preceding govt, number of persons had been able to become members of Majlis who had no (rpt no) qualifications for parliamentary work and who depended upon methods other than those of parliamentary character in endeavoring to obtain their pol objectives. Some of the deps hiding behind their parliamentary immunities were endeavoring to break down law and order in country. Unless they shld desist from their illegal activities, he might find it necessary to dissolve parliament. What wld I think of such action his part?

3. I said that if because of unparliamentary tactics on part certain members it shld become impossible for Majlis to continue to function it seemed to me that govt wld be justified in dissolving Majlis through constitutional means. I did not (rpt not) believe that in trying situation which Iran was facing, world cld expect govt of Iran to tolerate situation in which it was paralyzed. I was not (rpt not) sufficiently well acquainted with background and customs give advice but thought Qavam shld move so far as possible along constitutional channels.

4. Qavam said that he hoped that people in US wld not (rpt not) be shocked if he wld be compelled temporarily to resort to certain strong measures. There wld be charges probably that he was acting in an undemocratic manner. Nevertheless there were times when in order to save democracy govts might find themselves compelled to take strong actions against violators of peace who while ostensibly struggling for “democracy” were in fact trying to destroy democratic institutions. I replied that I was sure Qavam wld maintain his reputation, combining his firmness with restraint.

5. I asked Qavam if govt was encountering any difficulties in various parts of country to maintain law and order. I referred particularly to Abadan where there were large groups of organized workmen who might be mobilized for purpose of creating disorder. He maintained that generally throughout country peaceful conditions prevailed altho here and there, there had been demonstrations which had been suppressed. Realizing dangers existing in Abadan, govt upon assuming power had immed taken steps which he thought wld be successful in preventing serious disturbances.2

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 888.10/7–1952. Secret; Security Information; NIACT. Repeated to London. Received at 8:45 a.m.
  2. After sending this telegram, Henderson immediately transmitted follow-up telegram 264, which reads: “Qavam has just sent word to me ‘in utmost confidence’ that he intends see Shah this afternoon and request power dissolve Parliament. He believes it necessary have authority do so because of activities certain deputies, who, under shield of parliamentary immunity, had incited today’s disturbances. If deputies continue such activities Qavam proposes dissolve Parliament and arrest offending deputies simultaneously.” (Ibid.)