888.2553/9–2851: Telegram

No. 95
The Ambassador-Designate in Iran (Henderson) to the Department of State


1208. From Henderson.

Accompanied by Stutesman, I called on Mossadeq this afternoon. Our talk lasted approx hour. I referred our previous conv1 and said my govt did not believe it wld serve any useful purpose for it to endeavor to persuade the Brit Govt reconsider its decision that proposals contained in Ala memo2 did not offer basis for resumption [Page 179] of negots. I added my govt deeply concerned at his recent order for expulsion Brit personnel from South Iran and proceeded to present Dept’s views as set forth in appropriate sections Deptel 656 Sept 29 [26,] 9 p.m.3
When I had concluded my statement, Mossadeq, who became progressively more grim as I talked, merely said: “I have nothing to say.” I told him that I had come to him as friend of Iran and had talked to him as friend. I was sure he had something on his heart and hoped he wld be as frank with me as I had tried to be with him. He replied that words I had uttered did not help the situation in the slightest. “Hungry stomachs have no faiths; if it was true Iran cld not successfully exploit its oil without Brit tech assistance, then revolution must follow; we have made our proposals to Brits and we will go no further; the order for the expulsion of Brit techs will be carried out.” He then launched into a long exposition of alleged fraudulent activities of the Co during last 40 years. He showed a chart to prove failure of Co carry out its obligations. I told him it not my intention defend Co for its past practices; I was merely trying point out that in opinion my govt—an opinion I personally share—it wld be extremely difficult company in near future to realize any profits from oil if it dispensed entirely with services, Brit tech personnel experienced in Iran.
Mossadeq said he was confident Iran with help of non-Brit oil experts cld profitably exploit its oil; if he was wrong, country wld not be any worse off than it had been in past, since most of funds which Iran had recd from Co had been spent for mil purposes and, in his opinion, wasted. The oil cld remain in ground for use some future generation.
I said I found myself in disagreement with him; I did not believe present generation in Iran wld be content with present lot; it wld insist on higher standards of living and any Iran Govt which did not offer some prospect of econ development wld have difficulty in surviving. He agreed, adding that in past Iran had endeavored to fol democratic way in cooperation with democratic countries; if demo countries no longer willing to help Iran, country wld be free go any direction which might be open to it.
I said I did not know what prompted this remark. There had been no indication from my govt that it wld not be prepared to try aid Iran just because Iran Govt refused to accept its advice. I did believe, however, that such assistance as Iran might obtain from US wld be much less effective if Brits were driven out.
Mossadeq said he was grateful for US aid in past year preserving sovereignty and integrity Iran; he was also appreciative of help we were now giving, such as aid in control of locusts,4 etc.
I gained impression from this conv with Mossadeq that his hatred for Brits had become almost implacable and now preferred that they get entirely out of Iran; that he wld prefer to take chance on obtaining and utilizing foreign techs than to have further dealings with Brit Govt or AIOC.
Altho at times during our convMossadeq showed considerable irritation, we parted, nevertheless, on good terms. I believe that he still feels the US wld like to help him and Iran.
It was agreed his conv was on strictly personal basis and contents wld not be divulged other govts or press.5
  1. See Document 88.
  2. Regarding the Iranian proposals on Sept. 19, see Document 86.
  3. Document 90.
  4. Documentation on U.S. aid to control locusts in Iran is in file 888.22.
  5. Henderson saw Ala during the morning of Sept. 28 and indicated the statement which the Department wished him to make to the Shah. Ala felt that the time had not yet come when the Shah could act, but told Henderson that he had endeavored to impress Mosadeq with the seriousness of the situation. (Telegram 1204 from Tehran, Sept. 28, 3 p.m.; 888.2553/9–2851)