46. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1
1157. 1. Shepherd, British Ambassador, asked Ambassador Henderson have informal tea with him yesterday afternoon. View circumstances Henderson accepted although credentials not presented. Conversation informal and friendly. Shepherd presented his views considerable detail, indicating certain differences in interpretation and [Page 136] approach between U.S. and U.K. Embassies. Various points made by Shepherd or impressions obtained by Henderson from Shepherd’s comments set forth briefly below:
2. Shepherd insisted Iranian opposition to British retention control Iranian oil superficial; did not believe Iranian public in general really deeply interested; thought if new Govt should come in which would play down oil dispute, public interest, which had been artificially aroused, would gradually disappear.
3. He expressed opinion differences between British and American Embassies in analyses of situation and how best to meet it were partly responsible for difficulties encountered by Foreign Office and State Dept in getting together and working out common program. He suggested it would be useful if two Embassies could thresh out matter here so they could present parallel views and recommendations to respective govts.
4. Shepherd said British had been severely criticized for interference in Iranian internal affairs, but many Iranians while criticizing were simultaneously insisting British continue to interfere on their behalf. Believed interference in past as well as in present necessary in order save Iranians from themselves and their neighbors. He thought time had come when there should be change in government; nothing constructive could be accomplished so long as Mosadeq remained in power; therefore efforts should be concentrated on getting Mosadeq out at earliest possible moment. One question was whether it would be better have him succeeded by some “strong” politician like Qavam or Seyid Zia, or have him replaced by a more colorless PriMin who, after short interval, would give way to “strong” man. He inclined defend Seyid Zia expressing opinion latter’s reputation as “British stooge” no great handicap; had progressive ideas and if in power could prove his independence of British. Shepherd also thought Ala as compromise PriMin might be brought in temporarily. He realized Ala did not desire to be PriMin in such circumstances but might be willing serve as patriotic duty. He considered Ala as rather weak, nevertheless he could be useful.
5. Shepherd thought little would come out of suggestion that Iranian Mission might visit London. He did, however, consider it important that Shah had apparently come to opinion that it would be in interest of Iran for Mosadeq to retire. In response to questions, he stated he had no evidence that Shah was as yet prepared to take any concrete action to expedite retirement Mosadeq.
6. Henderson told Shepherd he still in process orientation and was endeavoring obtain views and background. He was not therefore prepared just yet offer suggestions.[Page 137]
7. Request these confidential views British Ambassador expressed in private conversation not (rpt not) be passed on to any foreign Govt officials including British.
- Source: National Archives, RG 84, Tehran Embassy Files, 1950–1952, classified general records, Box 39. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Henderson. Repeated to London. The telegram is the Embassy’s copy as approved and has no time of transmission.↩