888.2553/7–2051: Telegram

No. 47
The Special Assistant to the President (Harriman) to the Department of State

top secret

301. From Harriman for President and Secretary. (No distribution except as directed by the Secretary’s office.) I am greatly disturbed by Iran Government’s action in cancelling Seddon’s residence permit.1 I fully understand adverse reaction this will have in London; also I am surprised that the government did not consult me before making this move. On other hand, certain realities of the scene here should be understood. There is the most wide-spread determination to end British political interference and particularly that of the oil company. Whether it is true or not the Iranians are firmly convinced that Seddon is continuing political intrigue. Unfortunately I did not learn of the decision to expel Seddon until after I had seen Mossadeq on Thursday. I spoke, however, to the Shah about the damaging effect of this action at this time. He appeared not to have heard of it. I have also spoken to Minister Busheri, who said that he would pass on my feeling and attempt to obtain for me accusations against Seddon. There is another factor which should be understood, that Mossadeq and his associates are afraid of British and also afraid to give impression that I am dictating their political actions. This, I believe, is a combination of their own feeling of insecurity plus the knowledge that any indication of weakness on their part will touch off public resentment which would be exploited by extremists on both sides, the extreme Nationalists and the Tudeh Party. I can not guarantee any results from my visit. On other hand, I can say that there is a growing group that are urging government to seize my presence as perhaps last opportunity to re-establish relations with the British and work out a solution. Impulsive expressions of resentment on part of British, in my opinion, will only have the effect of reducing the influence of these people and encouraging extremists. Then the government will be more afraid than ever to make an effective gesture toward the British.

I plan to see the British Ambassador shortly and will ask him whether there is anything useful he thinks I can do at this end. I [Page 102] have received your two messages, 147 and 148, July 19.2 I have previously urged British Ambassador to delay evacuation of British personnel from oil fields. The British Embassy has informed me this morning that the Commons debate on Iran has been postponed until Mon, July 23 and that it is understood no action regarding evacuation will be taken until after this debate. I will also discuss this matter further with British Ambassador.

Reports indicate that morale among British personnel, both in oil fields and Abadan, is declining rapidly but I hope British will hold off as long as they feel they can.

  1. On July 19 the Iranian Government revoked Seddon’s residence permit. Three days later, apparently due to the protests of Harriman, Seddon’s permit was returned. (Telegram 316 from Tehran, July 21; 888.2553/7–2151)
  2. See Document 45 and footnote 2 thereto.