788.5 MSP/1–1952: Telegram

No. 150
The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State


2705. 1. During my conversation evening Jan 18, with Mosadeq, I reminded him in previous conv he had said he wld like talk to me further re mil aid.1 He replied really nothing new say. He had discussed problem several days ago with Gen Zimmerman. He had explained his sitn to Gen as he had to me; that he wld be glad to have US mil aid; that he wld be unable to enter into any commitments or to do anything which wld look like he was entering into commitments in return for such aid; that if US really believed Iran shld have mil aid and desired to give such aid it shld be able find means doing so. Gen had appeared agree with him. (This last remark shld be discounted since Mosadeq has habit assuming and indicating that person who does not enter into detailed argument with him re some point, has accepted his views re that point.) Mosadeq contd that in Iran there is strong feeling that if Iran shld align itself either with Sov bloc or with “free world” its security wld be endangered. He cld therefore take no action which might be interpreted as decision Iran throwing its lot definitely with free world without giving rise to popular indignation which might result overthrow his govt. Wide publicity had been given to 511 (a) in Iran; its provisions were interpreted to mean that any country accepting them was agreeing to join with other members free world in fighting Sov Union in case hostilities between Sov Union and any sector free world shld break out; he, therefore, cld not sign any doc or make any statement which cld be considered as agrmt required under 511 (a) without giving Iran public and Russia impression Iran had entered into mil alliance with US against Russia. Recent newspaper publicity had served to focus attn on problem mil aid. This rendered it still more difficult for him take any action re this matter without it becoming natl issue. Perhaps after discussions had quieted down and atmosphere in Iran had become more [Page 335] receptive, he cld do something. In meantime he hoped US mil aid wld not be suspended.

2. I told Mosadeq we were in no way responsible for articles appearing in Iran press re problem US mil aid. Altho we had been sorely tempted issue press statements giving facts sitn, particularly because so many articles were appearing in press which were unfair and which were attributing base motives to US, we had nevertheless remained silent. I was sure that responsible Iranians acquainted with facts must regret way in which certain sections Iran press were misleading public and defaming US at time when US Govt was merely trying find some way within framework US laws to assist Iran in maintaining its integrity and independence. I then showed Mosadeq clippings from several newspapers, including one from organ of Mojpemi, one of Mosadeq’s closest associates. PriMin seemed well acquainted these articles and at first endeavored defend them as being in general accurate. He subsequently admitted they contained number discrepancies but still insisted their gen tenor was fair.

3. Mosadeq and I again discussed ways and means whereby we might contrive to have mil aid continue. He said again that only statement he wld be willing make was that if Iran shld be attacked it wld defend itself to last man. He was quite willing make such statement in Majlis in reply to questions from some Deputy if such statement wld satis US. He wld not however, make any other kind statement. He had already assured us that Iran was supporting principles, UN. It was not necessary to say that Iran was doing what it cld to strengthen its def capabilities since large expenditures from its meager budget for def shld prove that fact without any statement his part.

4. As result this conv I have regretfully come to conclusion it wld serve no useful purpose for us endeavor to persuade Mosadeq to give assurances required under 511 (a), at least until after elections and new Majlis has been convened, or unless some development shld take place which wld change Iran attitude towards Western world, particularly US.

  1. On Jan. 14 Ambassador Henderson had reported that in his conversation with Mosadeq on Jan. 13, the Prime Minister emphasized his desire to have American military aid resumed. Henderson replied that he regretted that Mosadeq had been unable to work out some arrangement to make it possible for the United States to consider Iran eligible to receive this assistance under the Mutual Security Act. The conversation concerning military aid then ended. Henderson’s assessment was that Mosadeq was unlikely to change his attitude toward giving the necessary assurances to obtain military aid. (Telegram 2610; 788.5 MSP/1–1452)