888.2553/10–551: Telegram

No. 106
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Department of State1

top secret

1698. I had 45 minutes with Morrison this p.m. (Embtel 16742) and found him in a petulant and angry mood. Before looking at Secy’s msg,3 he launched into tirade about our attitude re Iranian problem. He was unhappy about convs in NY re SC res, reiterating number of times “I will not be put in the dock with Mosadeq”. He went on to say that he felt that UK had been comparatively blameless in dispute, whereas Mosadeq had failed to live up to ICJ recommendations and has generally refused to cooperate in any way in reaching equitable solution. He said at one point “We have been the saints and Mosadeq has been the naughty boy.”

He emphasized he cld not understand US attitude. He expected 100 percent cooperation and was only getting 20 percent. Since he had been in ofc he had done his best to accommodate us on a number of subjs and thought that he had been on whole successful. He mentioned specifically Jap Peace Treaty.4 On Iran, however, we had persistently inveighed against use of force and then when UK reverted to appeal to SC to uphold rule of law, we not only had doubts re wisdom of action, but came up with res which failed to make any distinction between relative guilt and innocence of parties. He was afraid there might be public reaction against US during course polit campaign for our actions. He had felt constrained in his statement at Scarborough to make ref to fact that US had inveighed against use of force. He did not know whether it wld be necessary to make public other aspects of our attitude on Iran question. He expressed intense concern at continued US pressure in this matter and said he hoped US Govt was not by its actions trying to bring about defeat of Labor Govt.

I immed interrupted to assure him this was certainly not case and that on contrary we were most anxious to be helpful in bringing about settlement of this serious problem. We still wished to be [Page 206] helpful and were anxious to find out way in which Brit minds were running as to where we went from here.

Morrison replied by indicating that he felt future developments shld take place within framework appeal to SC. In this connection, he felt original Brit draft res5 was outmoded by evacuation, but he didn’t like our orig res6 either. I interrupted to say that it was my understanding things were better on this score and that we were much closer together. Morrison replied that later version which had been discussed by our two dels in NY was better, but still not good enough. It must be strengthened with respect to Iran failure to act in accord with ICJ’s interim measures. He kept emphasizing that it was most important to uphold moral auth of court and to ensure rule of law wld prevail. He then introduced his second major objection to draft, i.e., calling on two parties to negot. He felt it wld be necessary for SC to appoint someone to bring two parties together in view extreme difficulty encountered in past in holding Mosadeq to his word. With regard any long-range settlement, he thought it might be useful contemplate replacing AIOC with some other oil company setup in which other countries and Iran wld participate. He did not elaborate further as to what he had in mind on this point but said he was giving consideration to it.

I told Morrison that info had come to us from high source in Iran which I was not at liberty to divulge that Mosadeq is understood to be willing not only resume negots but also come to understanding when he gets to NY. (Deptel 1840 Oct. 4.7) We thought this provided good opportunity to make further attempt to bring about settlement and provide opportunity for Secret negots in less tense atmosphere than Tehran. It seemed to us that Brit wld be well advised to look into this possibility carefully. Morrison replied that he was somewhat worried about confusion arising from such negots taking place at same time matter before SC. If members got word negots were taking place, they might be less inclined to act forthrightly.

Nevertheless he was willing to consider possibility such negots if evidence were forthcoming that Mosadeq was willing to enter into [Page 207] “genuine and sincere” negots. I replied I felt that Brit cld determine this for themselves in NY when Mosadeq arrived there and again reiterated point that it cld be done quietly and without publicity. As for possible conflict between negots and SC action, I suggested perhaps latter cld be postponed for short time. Morrison replied to this by saying that he was in no hurry. He went on to say he did not feel that he cld send Cab Min, however. They were all preoccupied with election here and, moreover, it wld draw too much attention to negots. I said I did not personally feel it was absolutely necessary to send a Cab Min. Morrison then observed that there were UK officials in NY competent to deal with matter. He emphasized his greatest fear was that of a possible third failure. He did not want to be made a fool of by Mosadeq, by “queering the pitch in the SC” or by “being left in the lurch by the US”. He wld have to be convinced Mosadeq was sincere.

During all the foregoing conv, Morrison had kept Secy’s msg folded in front of him. He finally picked it up and read it, shaking his head and muttering “This is defeatist—defeatist”. I said I did not regard msg as at all defeatist. I then pointed out our concern about Russia and said this was uppermost in our minds. He said he wasn’t so concerned altho he agreed with my remark that there were responsible people who felt they were justly concerned.

Morrison reverted to difficulty in dealing with Mosadeq and recalled that even Harriman had said that he had reached conclusion you can’t do business with Mosadeq. I admitted past experience had certainly shown extreme difficulty of doing business with Mosadeq, but said that I felt that fresh new element now was indication he might be prepared to reach a settlement. I reiterated that certainly nothing wld be lost and possibly much gained by making every effort to ascertain in NY the sincerity with which Mosadeq intended approach problem. Morrison reverted to his domestic polit fears and said he had to be most careful and cld not afford to make a fool of himself now.

At end of conv, Morrison took much more conciliatory tack and emphasized he didn’t want us to think he was ungrateful for our help. He spoke particularly highly of Harriman and of Harriman’s efforts and said that he had never had any regrets that negots had been entered into at that time.

He promised to give serious consideration to idea of trying to resume negots with Mosadeq in NY and said that he might request our help.

I am afraid that there are the possible makings of a real Anglo-Amer rift in this Iranian matter if we are not careful. In view of [Page 208] all the above, I feel proposed msg from Pres to Attlee8 wld be the opposite of helpful and recommend that no msg be sent at this time.

  1. Repeated to Tehran and the U.S. Mission at the United Nations.
  2. In telegram 1674 Gifford reported that he had an appointment at 4 p.m. to see Morrison. (888.2553/10–551)
  3. Transmitted in Document 104.
  4. For documentation on the Conference at San Francisco for the signing of the Japanese Peace Treaty, Sept. 4–8, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. vi, Part 1, pp. 777 ff.
  5. See Document 92.
  6. Transmitted in telegram 162 to the Mission at the United Nations, Sept. 29. (888.2553/9–2951)
  7. In telegram 1840 the Department told Gifford that it was increasingly concerned at the hazards of debate on the Iranian resolution in the Security Council, because Mosadeq was coming to New York prepared to undertake a complete exposure of AIOC operations in Iran. Gifford was told to make full use of the substance of Henderson’s report (footnote 3, supra) that Mosadeq was prepared to resume the negotiations. (888.2553/10–451) On Oct. 6, having received Henderson’s second cable (telegram 1295, supra,) Gifford instructed Holmes to inform the Foreign Office of Mosadeq’s intransigent attitude so Morrison would not be under any false impressions. (Telegram 1702 from London, Oct. 6; 888.2553/10–651)
  8. See footnote 3, Document 104.