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

1836. 1. During my talk with PriMin this morning he said several days ago info had come to him that Brit agent was circulating among tribes in area of Luristan; stopping at houses of tribal leaders; asking numerous questions re matters domestic concern; and in general stirring up tribesmen. He had given orders for arrest this agent but was later astonished to learn that foreigner in question was Amer citizen named Dubois; who claimed to be mbr State Dept traveling in Iran. This foreigner cld not give convincing explanation for his presence among tribesmen. PriMin asked if I cld tell him more about Dubois.

2. I said Arthur Dubois arrived Tehran several months ago. He was mbr Dept State engaged in research. He had not been in Iran for many years. Purpose this visit was to spend several months in country getting acquainted with changed conditions. It was not easy for researcher in Dept to obtain accurate picture Iran from written reports. PriMin remarked that Dubois was therefore really a spy. I said that if US official, friendly to Iran and working on Iranian matters in US, was engaging in espionage if he traveled thru country endeavoring obtain first hand impressions then Dubois was spy. Scores of prominent Iranians went to US annually for same purpose and no one considered them as spies.

3. PriMin said tribal areas in Iran extremely sensitive. Amers going into such areas likely be exploited by tribal leaders disloyal to central govt, who by entertaining these Amers wld endeavor give impression they had support of US. Furthermore, PriMin was afraid that Amers going into these areas might unconsciously become agents of Brit who no longer dare send their own nationals to tribes. He hoped that Amer natls, particularly during this period, wld refrain from visits among tribes other than those of official character.

4. I told PriMin I convinced that Dubois had not conducted himself improperly or had not engaged in political activities. Dubois was planning in any event to return to US shortly after he had completed his trip. I said I wld ask all Amer Governmental officials in Iran to refrain from traveling among tribes merely for purposes of visiting friends, satisfying curiosity, engaging in shooting expeditions, etc. I added that of course it wld be necessary in pursuance of their work for various [Page 398] Amer officials to visit or pass thru tribal areas. Whenever this necessity arose I wld make special effort to see that appropriate governmental authorities were fully informed in advance re contemplated trips.

5. Shortly after my return to Emb I learned that Iran police had this morning informed French correspondent that Dubois “was being brought to Tehran under detention”. I sent message to Mosadeq, informing him that police were already passing out information re Dubois’ difficulties and suggesting that Iranian Govt and Emb both reply to inquiries that police had stopped Dubois in southern Iran for purpose checking his documents, but that they had not held him, and that he was returning to Tehran. Mosadeq agreed with this explanation except that he insisted that Iranian Govt wld state that Dubois was returning to Tehran on request Iranian Govt.

6. I believe it wld be wise for Dubois to leave Iran several days after his arrival in Tehran. I also venture recommend that during this difficult period visits of US officials to Iran for purposes of “orientation” be reduced to minimum.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Tehran Embassy Files, 1950–1952, classified general records, Box 25. Secret; Security Information; Priority; No Distribution. Drafted by Henderson. The telegram is the Embassy copy as approved and has no time of transmission.