788.13/7–2852: Telegram

No. 189
The Ambassador in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State1


422. 1. During last two days I have recd various hints, including one from son, that Mosadeq was ready for me to call. Accordingly, I visited him yesterday evening. Our conversation, which lasted nearly two and half hours, was both exhausting and depressing. As I listened to him I cld not but be discouraged at thought that person so lacking in stability and clearly dominated by emotions and prejudices shld represent only bulwark left between Iran and [Page 417] communism. As during several previous conversations, I had feeling at times that I was talking with someone not quite sane and that therefore he shld be humored rather than reasoned with. On occasions he resorted to such silly exaggerations and extravagances it seemed almost useless to talk further. At one point I almost decided to abandon our conv when he rptd again and again in monotone that “Iran wld never, never want UK and US to have any differences over it. Iran wld prefer go Communist than cause any trouble between US and UK”. There were periods during our talk when he seemed lucid and sensible. Gen impression which he left was however one of deterioration. I have noticed in past that in evenings he is likely to be more tired and to have less control over his emotions. I can only hope his behavior last evening was due to strain of recent events and fatigue and does not indicate serious degeneration.

2. I shall not attempt to outline conversation but will merely touch on those portions which seem to me to be more important and which may enable Dept have better understanding his present frame of mind.

3. He recd me in usual friendly manner. I began substantive portion our conv by saying that during recent days there had been circulated so many defamatory stories re US policies in Iran and partic US relations with Qavam that it wld be useless for me to try deny all of them. I thought however it might be helpful if, in strictest conf, I shld describe to him briefly what attitude US Govt had been towards Qavam and let him understand character my personal relations with Qavam. I said I had seen Qavam twice before he became PM; once at dinner at Turk Emb and on another occasion at dinner in house mutual friend. During such talks as I had had with him he had not appealed to US to support him either directly or indirectly. Although some his friends had at times asked Emb use its influence on his behalf I never had had any indication that Qavam was aware of these approaches to Emb. It seemed unnecessary for me to add that Emb, in pursuance instrs from US Govt, had never directly or indirectly endeavored support Qavam or other Iranian as PM. Stories that Amers had by some sort intrigue brought about resign Mosadeq and appointment Qavam were so ridiculous that I failed understand how intelligent Irans, even in this emotional period, cld credit them. These stories were being circulated either by people who had completely lost their ability to reason or by enemies of Iran who desired undermine Iran’s independence by impairing relations between Iran and US. I said day fol appointment Qavam as PM he had sent msg to me asking that US give Iran finan aid to enable it to meet outstanding urgent indebtedness, including unpaid govt wages and salaries. Qavam in [Page 418] this msg asked me see him on fol day, July 19. During immediately ensuing conversation with Qavam he had told me that he hoped achieve oil settlement in not distant future on basis which wld result in augmentation Iran’s revenues and which wld not in any way mean sacrifice Iran’s rights or sovereignty. Pending resumption receipts from oil industry Iran needed finan aid to tide it over present finan crisis. I said I had told Qavam that I did not know whether US had available funds which cld be used for giving finan aid to Iran. If such funds not available it wld be extremely difficult to render aid for sometime as Cong not in session. I had added that even if funds shld be available US in my opinion cld render aid only in circumstances in which offense wld not be given to public opinion of US, UK and Iran. I had informed Qavam that he shld understand that it wld not be interest free world, incl Iran, for differences between UK and US arising from extension US finan aid Iran to weaken world security structure.

Weakening this structure might encourage aggressive action on part internatl communism against countries which, like Iran, lay under its shadow. I had also told Qavam that US cld not undertake for indefinite period to extend budgetary aid to any country and that such aid this character as US might be able give Iran must be limited to several months until Iran cld have opportunity set its house in order and balance its budget with help its own resources. Mosadeq asked if I had told Qavam that I wld recommend US aid to him. I replied I had told Qavam that in view his assurances that he wld make every effort effect settlement in dispute on basis fair to both parties, and in view Iran’s desperate finan situation, I was recommending that limited finan aid be given to Iran but that I had no idea what my govt’s attitude re such aid wld be.

4. Mosadeq thanked me for giving above confidential info to him. He said he cld draw several conclusions. First conclusion was that US had brought pressure on Qavam to bow to Brit demands and to permit return Brit rule to Iran. I replied such conclusion entirely unjustified; US had never suggested to anyone, including Qavam, that Iran take any step which wld in the slightest degree weaken its independence or sovereignty. US has always been of opinion that Iran and Great Britain cld come to reasonable and fair solution oil problem without any sacrifice of Iran’s independence. Furthermore, I had not pressed Qavam to endeavor come to understanding with Great Britain re oil. I had merely informed him of circumstances in which in my opinion US Govt might be able to give finan aid to Iran. I had in past, in informal conversations with Mosadeq, expressed myself to him similarly.

5. Mosadeq said second conclusion which he had drawn was that altho US had shown willingness give aid to Qavam on latter’s request, [Page 419] it had refused on several occasions to give aid to Mosadeq. US therefore had showed more friendly attitude to Qavam than it had Mosadeq. I told PriMin that US Govt had not displayed more friendliness to Qavam than it wld have shown to any other PriMin in similar circumstances. Without any instrs from Wash, on my own responsibility I had informed Qavam of what I thought attitude of govt might be re extension finan aid to Iran if funds available. I had also told Qavam that I was of opinion from statements made by him that he was planning take steps which might result in rendering extension of US aid to Iran acceptable to public opinion US, Iran and UK. I was therefore recommending that if possible such aid be extended on temporary basis. On various occasions I had made it clear to Mosadeq that I personally prepared recommend that US Govt extend to Iran aid on finan basis, provided his govt cld follow policies which wld make it possible for such aid to be given without offending public opinion US, UK and Iran. I was still prepared make such recommendations to my govt, provided I had reason believe Mosadeq intended pursue policies this character.

6. Mosadeq said third conclusion he wld draw from what I had told him was that US had given encouragement to Qavam by showing friendliness to him. I replied that during time I talked with Qavam he was PriMin. As Amb to Iran of country friendly to Iran it was my duty establish friendly relations with PriMin who showed desire to have such relations. If performance such duty was be considered as improperly encouraging to Qavam, then those opponents of Mosadeq who in past had severely criticized me for maintaining friendly relations with Mosadeq, had some justification for their criticism. So long as I was Amb to Iran I intended continue maintain as friendly relations with Iran Govt in power as may be desired by that govt.

7. Mosadeq launched into bitter attack upon US foreign policy. He said US had no diplomacy. US in Mid-East was merely agent Brit. Manifestations of anti-Americans as witnessed during recent days had shown how great had been failure so-called US diplomacy in Iran. US had given billion dollars aid to Turkey and yet when Iran was bankrupt and on verge communism, it had refused finan assistance first because it feared that if Iran shld be able operate its own oil industry US oil interests in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere might suffer and, secondly, because it was afraid of Brit displeasure. I told Mosadeq that American interests in internatl oil were really of secondary nature and did not govern our policies re Iran.

Mosadeq said even certain Brit were charging that US, because of fear of effect of US oil concessions in other countries, did not wish Brit to compromise in oil dispute with Iran. I again emphasized [Page 420] that effects of possible settlement on US oil concessions in various parts world did not play major role in our policies re Iran. I added that in any event it did not seem likely that countries in which there were Amer oil concessions wld be tempted follow Iran’s example. I had already on various occasions tried to make clear to him it wld not be in interest free world for us to give Iran finan aid in circumstances which might cause Brit and Amer public opinion to believe that US was subsidizing Iran’s position re oil dispute. At this point Mosadeq began to chant that Iran wld prefer to go Communist than for US and UN [UK] to have differences of opinion with regard to it. Eventually, I was able to tell him that US choice was not merely between US–UK friction and Iran going Communist. I stressed that if serious misunderstandings shld develop in present world situation between US and UK, Iran wld go Communist anyway.

8. Mosadeq resumed his ridicule of Amer diplomacy. He said that decision American judge in Hague, which had given great impetus to anti-Amer feelings Iran, was good example. I said that US did not consider that Amer judge in Internatl Court was diplomat or that any judgment he might render was of diplomatic character. I was aware it quite useless to convince him that Amer judges were not influenced by executive branch govt. I doubted that anyone not educated in Amer cld understand depth Amer feeling re independence of judiciary. I had heard that Mosadeq himself was anxious separate Iran judiciary from executive branch govt. If he shld succeed, Iranians might in years to come be able believe Amer judges did not receive instructions from US Govt. I said I would appreciate it if Mosadeq wld tell me precisely what he thought Amer diplomacy shld do in Iran. Mosadeq again reverted to fact that US had given Iran no final aid in its time of need.

9. Mosadeq placed great stress on Communist danger facing Iran. He said Iranian army was no longer stabilizing factor. It was now hated by all Iranians. Iranian army, under orders Qavam, who was Brit agent, had fired on and killed hundreds Iranians. Iranian people, therefore, considered army as tool Brit. I asked Mosadeq if he, as MinWar, wld not be able by certain measures restore prestige army. He insisted too late. Nothing cld save army now. In fact, army was now danger to country since many officers and men, humiliated at their present unpopularity, might at any moment try to get back into public favor by taking leadership in revolt of Communist character. This revolt might not be fomented gradually. It might break out at any moment.

10. I asked Mosadeq if there was anything he cld tell me re future mil aid and mil missions. Various kinds rumors were afloat re his attitude on these subjects. He replied he not prepared to talk [Page 421] to me at present. He wld take matter up later. Any recommendations which might be circulated had no basis. He had not discussed his intention re mil missions and aid with anyone. I said Gen Zimmerman had always maintained friendly relations with MinWar. Now that Mosadeq had war portfolio I assumed it wld be appropriate for Gen Zimmerman to call on him. He said he wld always be glad receive Gen Zimmerman “so long as mil mission was here”. It was not clear to me whether he intended that this phrase have special significance.

11. Reverting to oil problem. Mosadeq described briefly suggestion which he had made to Middleton. He made no request of me and I stated that I was glad that direct conversation on subject had been opened with Brit.

12. As I was preparing depart, Mosadeq said he hoped I wld not take amiss frankness his comments to me. It had been his practice to talk on personal basis rather than that of PriMin addressing Amb. He believed his country and govt were in great danger and he cld not understand why US, which was supposed to be so friendly to Iran shld not show friendship by action. I told Mosadeq that US was in many ways trying to help Iran. He laughed and said if we were really trying assist by other than words, we were certainly succeeding in hiding our helpful activities.

  1. Transmitted in three sections; repeated to London.