888.2553/10–851: Telegram

No. 108
The United States Representative at the United Nations (Austin) to the Department of State


438. From McGhee. Dept please relay London and Tehran. Re Iranian case. Gross, Walters and I saw Dr. Mosadeq for over an hour.1 Meeting was arranged through Entezam who indicated that PriMin appeared eager to talk and that he was in mood for negotiations and desired a delay in SC action. Entezam himself, although he introduced group, did not remain for discussions, presumably because he felt it would inhibit PriMin. Mosadeq was in a good mood and apparently not affected by his long trip. After exchange of pleasantries I welcomed him on behalf of Pres and Secy and asked when he would prefer come to Washington pointing out that we assumed it would be more convenient after SC had taken action.2 This question gave rise to statement on his part that he would in fact prefer to avoid SC action through prior negotiations. His basic reasoning on this point was that the statement that he felt he must make in SC would in fact preclude the possibility of successful negotiations thereafter. He preferred postpone SC action with informal recommendation that parties seek agreement directly between themselves.

After he had suggested different periods of delay in resumption SC debate we understood him finally to suggest a delay until Sun or Mon.3 If no agreement were forthcoming, SC could then take action, and he would at that time present “vigorous and sharp” defense. In the ensuing discussion, both Gross and I, without indicating there was any possibility of withdrawing case from SC or postponing [Page 212] action, tried to convince Mosadeq that it would be possible for him to make a strong statement in defense of the Iranian position and still keep the door open for acceptance of an impartial SC res of a constructive nature.

Mosadeq expressed conviction Brit were hoping to drag out SC proceeding thus playing for time in which economic pressures on Iran would make latter more compliant. We pointed out SC action could be both quick and constructive, but this made little dent upon his fixed view that any chance for conciliation would be precluded by the slashing attack he would have to make if the SC debate resumed. He tentatively explored idea of SC mtg for sole purpose of urging parties to negotiate or of postponing debate in order parties might negotiate. We explained SC mtg not necessary for latter purpose, which could be accomplished by SC Pres informally polling members. He seemed to prefer latter course.

It was pointed out that there were two questions: (a) The question of jurisdiction; (b) the substance of any proposed res.

Gross made clear that substantive debate on res would have to take place before council could consider question of jurisdiction being a formal one, this substantive debate would occur in connection with debate on res. It was pointed out to PriMin that res itself would be of constructive nature looking toward future and particularly toward resumption of negotiations leading to an agreement. It would in all probability not seek to cast blame on either party and would not require defense of type that PriMin apparently envisaged involving whole question of Brit oil concessions in Iran. We pointed out that he was among friends and that the various members of the council including the US would see to it that an impartial res was adopted and one looking toward constructive action and a settlement rather than toward recriminations. He maintained, however, that it was absolutely necessary for him to make a strong defense of the Iranian position vis-à-vis Brit and Brit oil interests. It was inevitable that by the very nature of his presentation the Brit would be “humiliated” and the door would be closed. It was pointed out that the US and indeed other members of the council would expect a vigorous defense of the Iranian position, but that such debate could be objective in nature and could conclude with statement that his govt was always ready to undertake negotiations which would lead to satisfactory solution of problem. The PriMin reiterated that this was impossible. This subject being exhausted for moment, question of PriMin’s proposed resumption in negotiations was then discussed. An effort was made to determine whether or not PriMin really had in mind a new basis of negotiations. It was pointed out that at time discussions broke down in Iran positions of Brit and Iranians were far apart and that although [Page 213] we had never desired define precise terms under which agreement be reached, nevertheless Harriman had clearly stated to PriMin that he felt there must be more realistic attitude on part of Iranians if a satisfactory agreement was to be concluded. I asked PriMin, for example, whether or not his position had changed on the point on which negotiations broke down in Tehran, namely, creation of suitable executive with sufficient authority to run oil industry subject to the policy control of the NIOC. I pointed out that from our long experience, we knew that business operation of size required to run Iranian oil industry could not be satisfactorily operated by a board of directors, but that there must be under board a single executive with executive powers over subsidiary depts and technicians. I also pointed out that it was the experience of our oil industry that Iranian operation would need continuous access to modern technology in many fields of specialization required if Iranian petroleum industry was to be kept abreast of competitors. PriMin replied that he was prepared to accept an executive with proper authority and that this had been embodied in his recent proposals to British. He also appeared to understand the problem of access to technology.

The conversations were, however, interrupted at this point by PriMin’s attending physician, although Dr. Mosadeq was eager to continue.4 At Dr. Mosadeq’s insistence it was planned that further discussions be held at 11:45 tomorrow.5

  1. Mosadeq arrived in New York on Oct. 8 accompanied by his son and daughter; Alayar Saleh, the President of the Joint Oil Committee; and three other members of the committee; Karim Sanjabi, Minister of Education; Javad Busheri, Minister of Roads; the editors of three Iranian newspapers; two translators; Mozafar Baghai; a National Front Deputy; the Iranian Director of Press and Propaganda; the Iranian Ambassador to the Netherlands; and a photographer.
  2. On Oct. 5, Ambassador Henderson asked Mosadeq whether he intended to visit Washington while he was in the United States and strongly recommended to the Department that the Prime Minister be invited. (Telegram 1292 from Tehran; 788.13/10–551) On the same day the Department of State cabled Henderson that he should tender an invitation from President Truman to Mosadeq to visit Washington. (Telegram 735 to Tehran; 788.13/10–551) On Oct. 6 Ambassador Gifford cabled that he thought it would be a serious mistake to invite Mosadeq to Washington, but his advice was disregarded. (Telegram 1704 from London; 788.13/10–651)
  3. Discussion of the Anglo-Iranian oil case at the Security Council was subsequently postponed until Oct. 15.
  4. A memorandum of conversation on this meeting is in file 888.2553/10–851.
  5. See the memorandum of conversation, infra.