888.2553/7–2551: Telegram

No. 55
The Special Assistant to the President (Harriman) to the Department of State 1

top secret

382. From Harriman for the President and Secretary. No distribution except as directed by Secretary’s office. Brit Amb gave me Tuesday afternoon2 fol msg he had received from FonOff, dispatched prior to receipt of Iranian proposal submitted thru me:3

“Public opinion in UK wld not tolerate visits of Min to Tehran in present circumstances unless there were solid grounds for believing Persians were acting in good faith and there are reasonable prospects of reaching settlement. We have no desire make unnecessary conditions, but we consider fol to be essential prerequisites before such mission shld be dispatched: (a) Company must be allowed resume operations under its own management and interference with its staff must cease; (b) there must be no attempt by devices such as new forms of tanker receipts to prejudice legal position of company while discussions continue; (c) must be understood mission wld negotiate with Persian Govt and not members of oil commission; (d) Persian Govt shld signify in advance their willingness to discuss oil question with mission without insisting on prior acceptance of terms of nationalization law (nine point law). If these conditions fulfilled we wld of course be prepared to agree that discussions shld be on basis of an acceptance of principle of nationalization.”

[Page 117]

Brit Amb said points (c) and (d) were covered by proposal and (b) was not at present involved, which left point (a) at issue. I told him I cld not discuss point (a) with Iran Govt as I considered it subject for discussion after arrival of Brit mission with Iran Govt in seeking modus vivendi. I told him I had asked oil commission to take steps to relieve tension with Brit personnel in oil fields and Abadan, and that I planned to talk to Mosadeq to same effect at dinner that night.

He agreed point (a) wld raise Court decision and I gathered he was going to discuss informally with one of Senators on oil commission how relations cld be improved in south.

Much to my surprise, Busheri came to me in haste Wednesday afternoon while I was with Grady at Emb to say that Mosadeq had told him Brit Amb had handed FonMin four point answer of Brit Govt to Iran Govt’s proposal, and had said I had seen it and approved Shepherd’s giving it to FonMin. He said Iran Govt had assumed Brit answer wld come through me. He read me his pencilled notes of substance of msg and it was clearly the communication quoted above. I explained to Busheri that this was dispatched prior to receipt proposal and that I did not know Brit Amb was going to discuss it with Iran Govt before hearing from London on proposal, but thought he wld discuss only improvement of relations in south. I tried to reach Shepherd on telephone for explanation while Busheri was there, but call did not come thru until after Busheri had left. Shepherd said he had taken msg up with FonMin informally to get his reaction and had explained to FonMin that it was sent before proposal had reached London. He said he wld get in touch with Busheri as soon as possible and make this clear. When I questioned helpfulness of his having shown four point msg to FonMin, he answered that FonOff had asked him what was Iran Govt’s reaction to msg, particularly on point (a).

I see no useful purpose in Brit Amb carrying on discussions with Iran Govt paralleling mine at this stage, particularly on points already covered by proposal submitted thru me. Such procedure may well destroy whatever usefulness my talks with Iran Govt may have been. I feel this shld be talked out frankly with FonOff.

  1. Repeated to London eyes only for the Ambassador.
  2. July 24.
  3. See Document 52.