No. 23
Editorial Note

On May 18 the Department of State released to the press a statement on the United States position concerning the Iranian oil situation. After noting that the United States was firm friends with both Iran and the United Kingdom, the press release stated that the United States had expressed to the British the need for greater Iranian control over its petroleum resources and that the United States had pointed out to Iran the serious effects of any unilateral cancellation of a contract. The statement further asserted that the United States oil companies would not be willing to undertake operations in Iran in the face of such unilateral action and ended [Page 57] with the hope that through negotiation the interests of both Iran and the United Kingdom could be realized.

This resulted in an Iranian aide-mémoire, dated May 21, protesting that the United States request for negotiations was interference in Iranian internal affairs. On May 23, at his press conference, Secretary Acheson expressed surprise at the Iranian reaction to the press release and on May 26 in an aide-mémoire the United States expressed its regret that the statement had been construed as interference in Iranian internal affairs, reiterated its concern over the solution of the oil controversy, and repeated that a problem of this kind could be settled satisfactorily only by negotiations between the parties concerned.

For text of the press release, see Department of State Bulletin, May 28, 1951, page 851; American Foreign Policy, 1950–1955: Basic Documents, volume II (Washington, 1957), pages 2261–2262; or Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1951, pages 489–490. For text of the Iranian aide-mémoire, see ibid., pages 490–491. For text of Secretary Acheson’s remarks at his press conference on May 23 and text of the United States aide-mémoire, see Department of State Bulletin, June 4, 1951, pages 891–892; the text of the United States aide-mémoire is also printed in American Foreign Policy, 1950–1955, Basic Documents, volume II, page 2263, and Documents (R.I.I.A.) for 1951, pages 491–492.