888.2553/7–1951: Telegram

No. 45
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in Iran1

top secret

147. Eyes only Amb and Harriman. Fol tel contains substance note just left with Secy by Brit Amb with respect to proposed withdrawal of Brit personnel from the Iran oil fields.2 Amb advised that tel subsequently recd from Shepherd in Tehran suggests announcement be made on Mon 23 Jul instead of Fri 20 Jul and the withdrawal begin on Tues 24 Jul instead of Mon 23. This change has subsequently been confirmed from London. There was indication from Amb not completely clear from Shepherd in another tel that recommended delay is at least in part as result suggestion by Harriman, as a consequence of which Dept has reason to believe that you may both be apprised of Brit move.

[Page 99]

Amb was advised that if withdrawal of Brit personnel, which was assumed to mean oil fields and not refinery area, was for tactical purposes that Dept position wld be same as that conveyed to Amb at mtg with Harriman Jul 12 namely that we felt best Brit policy was to hold on in Iran by keeping employees on jobs as long as physically possible and particularly to make no move which wld have effect of putting increased pressure on Iranians during Harriman discussions. Amb was advised that info contained in last two tels from Harriman, Embtels 276 and 285 Jul 19,3 gave us sufficient encouragement to propose this course of action even more strongly. If, however, the move was dictated by considerations of safety of personnel then Dept understood that Brit Govt may find it necessary to go ahead with proposed action. Amb advised that from the info available to him, particularly that from Kermanshal indicating steady deterioration of conditions affecting Brit personnel, that he believed move to be dictated by considerations of safety. He did indicate, however, that the probable effect of the move on the Iranians might have played some small part in the decision. Dept requested permission advise Harriman and Grady urgently of the proposed Brit move so that they wld have opportunity to present their views with respect to the move to Shepherd who cld in turn relay them to Brit Govt before final announcement is made. It was suggested that if Brit Govt cld not delay proposed move perhaps they might at least leave timing to Shepherd who might be guided by Harriman talks with Mosadeq scheduled for Sat. Amb impressed upon Dept and Dept wishes to impress upon Emb importance of extreme secrecy in this matter in light of danger to personnel and success of move event of premature leak.

  1. Drafted by McGhee, cleared by Bonbright and Matthews, and signed by Secretary Acheson.
  2. Telegram 148, July 19, stated, inter alia, that due to the deteriorating situation in the oil fields instructions were being sent to withdraw British personnel beginning July 23. (888.2553/7–1951) Ambassador Franks’ note is in file 888.2553 AIOC/7–1951.
  3. Document 43 and supra.