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95. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1

382. Weekend developments Iran discussed at length with FonOff today. FonOff’s reports, while less full than ours, follow same gen lines. Fol points of interest:

1. As wld be expected, FonOff concerned at renewed indications Shah’s indecision and lack of courage which Middleton attributes to his fear of retaliation against throne in event National Front returns power.

2. Middleton expresses view Qavam may fall unless US and UK intervene with Shah in effort persuade him back Qavam more strongly. Working levels have drafted instructions to Middleton which have not (rpt not) yet been finally approved, authorizing him in consultation Henderson discuss problem with Shah if that course appears desirable. FonOff suggests line Middleton might take is to play on Shah’s fear by pointing out way to protect himself against NFs retaliation is to support strongly those who want keep it out of power. Middleton wld also be authorized try remove one of Shah’s fears re Qavam by assuring him [Page 287]categorically there is nothing between Brit and Qavam which is not (rpt not) known to Shah.2

3. Middleton concerned re alarmist BBC broadcasts to area which play up unrest. He maintains sitn not (rpt not) nearly so bad as broadcasts indicate and that such reports can only have effect of weakening Qavam govt in eyes listeners in provinces. He consequently asks FonOff try persuade BBC play reports down for present. BBC has indicated willingness comply best its ability.

4. In addition instructions to Middleton re drawing Qavam out on oil negotiations (para 1, Embtel 359, July 19),3 FonOff authorized him at same time to inform Qavam HMG wld be willing find suitable opportunity in Parl to make complimentary statement if Qavam thought it wld be helpful. Statement wld probably be tied to indications Qavam’s desire settle oil controversy.

5. FonOff concerned re effect on present delicate sitn in Iran of tomorrow’s Hague Court decision and anticipates it will provide opportunity for further demonstrations no (rpt no) matter which way court decides.

Holmes
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 888.2553/7–2152. Secret; Security Information. Repeated to Tehran. Received at 6:28 p.m.
  2. An apparent reference to Foreign Office telegram 453 to the British Embassy in Tehran, July 21. In this telegram, the Foreign Office directed Middleton to assist Henderson in his efforts to persuade the Shah to support Qavam. The Foreign Office advised that “the best line might be to play on the Shah’s fears . . . and make him realize that it is by letting Qavam down, not by supporting him, that he is most likely to bring about his own downfall.” In addition, “in view of the Shah’s suspicions of Qavam where the throne is concerned, you may also assure the Shah that we wish to see the best possible relations between H.M. and his Prime Minister and will use all our influence to that end.” (British National Archives, Files of the Oriental Counselor in Tehran, FO 248/1541)
  3. In telegram 359 from London, July 19, Gifford reported that Makins had informed him that the Foreign Office had instructed Middleton to discuss with Qavam the methods whereby the United Kingdom and Iran could resolve the oil dispute. Gifford had also learned that the U.K. desired to “maintain flexibility until such time as it might know about Qavam’s intentions.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1950–1954, 888.2553/7–1952)