641.88/2–752: Telegram

No. 155
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Iran 1


1624. Fol is summary memo of conversation Feb 1 between Dept and Brit Reps re Iran polit situation (Deptel 1623 Feb 6 [7]2).

Reps recognized that views of two Embs in Tehran now closer than in past but difference of opinion remains re real danger of communism in Iran.

US view as fols:

In absence solution oil problem and fon budgetary aid, Mosadeq probably will endeavor sell oil to Sov bloc or seek assistance another form which wld be obtained from that quarter on terms involving great risk loss of Iran to West. Even if he did not turn to USSR, Iran financial crisis cld lead to weakening authority IranGov and polit confusion conducive to estab Commie or Commie-dominated regime.

Altho Mosadeq request for financial aid before middle Feb might be designed scare US into giving assistance, it showed he is genuinely worried by difficulties ahead. With completion Tehran elections3 he may not be as greatly influenced by internal polit considerations as is case now and he might therefore be less rigid discussing oil settlement.

If oil settlement reached Mosadeq cld be expected channel nationalist fervor in other directions. Since Commies will fight settlement satis to West and Tudeh can be made principal target for Nationalists, it is likely Mosadeq wld take increasingly firm action vs Tudeh. He may also embark program social and econ reform to keep popular support and appropriate for himself portions Tudeh program having greatest appeal.

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If oil settlement contrary wishes Natl Front leadership is forced on Iran, it is likely main focus nationalist fervor wld continue centered around oil problem.

UK view as fols:

Mosadeq wants US and UK think he about to turn to USSR thus frightening US into giving financial assistance and UK into capitulating to his demands in oil dispute. In practice not easy for him turn to Sov Union as Irans traditionally afraid of Russia and if given free choice wld still prefer retain connection with West. Mosadeq has lulled traditional Iran fears of Russia by following neutral policy but they wld be revived by any move in his part toward Sov Union.

Although Mosadeq not likely turn toward Russia it is highly improbable he will do anything check communism in Iran since his ideas of polit tolerance, neutrality, and fear of offending USSR wld prevent his taking action vs Tudeh regardless outcome oil question and request US financial assistance. Continuation Mosadeq in office, therefore, presents greatest danger communism.

Serious financial difficulties facing Mosadeq might not lead to acute crisis since critical situations frequently run long time in Iran without sudden deterioration.

Discussion this Brit group continuing. Understand they communicating Middleton re Brit Emb appraisal certain aspects foregoing, and estimate Tudeh strength and tactics which have been discussed by Dept on basis Deptel 1523 Jan 25.4

We have also discussed tactics to be followed re IBRD proposal which are subj separate tel.5

  1. Repeated to London. Drafted by Helen P. Gray of the Office of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs and Ferguson, and approved by Rountree.
  2. Not printed. (888.2553/2–152)
  3. The Tehran elections to the 17th Majlis were scheduled to be completed in mid-February.
  4. In telegram 1523 the Department instructed the Embassy in Tehran to provide answers to a list of questions to enable the Department to ascertain as accurately as possible the true extent of the Communist threat in Iran. (788.00/1–2552)
  5. Presumably reference is to telegram 1623 to Tehran, Feb. 7. (888.2553/2–152)