24. Telegram From the Station in Iran to the Central Intelligence Agency1

IN 39208. Re: WASH 40240 (OUT 99765).2

1. Following is joint OSOOPC interim reply ref tel submitted without ref Grady or consultation with [less than 1 line not declassified] who presently absent Tehran.

2. TEHE 1213 Part 1 (IN 38800) gave general estimate situation 1 May 51. Reassessment situation in light events past five days indicate somewhat more clearly following points:

a. Mosadeq personally receiving more popular support both from within and outside National Front than has been accorded other recent govts.

b. His choice of cabinet while somewhat disappointing has not yet evoked much opposition.

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c. As popular nationalist leader Mosadeq’s strength derives from spirit of nationalism which presently is dominant political force Iran.

d. In this position he appears to be opposing both UK and USSR influence Iran, but seems relatively well disposed to US Government which represents third force with no vested interest. (We are informed by [name not declassified] and Grady that Mosadeq believes US Government “benevolent neutrality” re oil negotiation was great aid to National Front.

e. Although other opposition forces can be expected to develop (TEHE 121, part 1, para 2), only organized and vocal opposition that appears to be emerging at this time is Communist (Tudeh).

f. US Government policy objective Iran probably can best be implemented by encouraging legitimate indigenous liberal progressive movements which detract from or supplant Tudeh.

g. Oil nationalization and 9 point Mosadeq proposal4 is a fact which cannot be reversed without major upheaval or long festering wounds, reasonable moderation of implementation probably is best that can be hoped for.

h. US Government probably is only outside power capable exerting moderating influence on present government.

3. Field plans for concrete long range operation by TEHEG are submitted under TEHE 121, part 2, para 2. Re more direct concrete action following alternative course now appears open to us:

a. Continue watchful-waiting until course present government better determined.

b. Support Mosadeq directly, or through his key appointees, by direct approach.

c. Attempt replace Mosadeq government.

4. Of above alternatives we seriously doubt feasibility and wisdom our attempt replace this government. In first place we do not have machine smoothly to effect change. Secondly, of the opposition leaders presently in sight (Seyyid Zia, Qavam, Zahedi), each have disadvantage outweighing their advantages, and we doubt if any are capable of mustering Mosadeq’s strength or receive the broad popular support which is being accorded him. Moreover, it now appears doubtful whether any rightist opposition can be expected to weaken Tudeh to extent Mosadeq and National Front possibly can do. Tentatively, therefore, we are inclined to view that wisest course may be to support Mo[Page 87]sadeq, however, risks of this course, including effects possible UK and other reaction, must yet be fully weighed.

5. Although we are not yet in position estimate this aspect situation clearly, we believe Mosadeq probably would be receptive to direct approach.

6. [1 paragraph (2 lines) not declassified]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, DDO Files, Job 79–01228A, Box 11, Folder 14, Iran 1951–1953. Secret. No telegram number appears on the source text.
  2. Not found.
  3. Document 22.
  4. The “9-Point Law,” promulgated by the Shah on May 1, implemented the oil nationalization bill. See Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954, p. 44 (Document 15).