888.2553/10–151: Telegram

No. 99
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Gifford) to the Department of State1

top secret

1581. I am increasingly concerned at divergency which has developed in last few days between Brit and ourselves re nature of res which wld be put before SC on Iran. As we have endeavored for some time to convey in ourtels, feeling is running very high here both in govt circles and in country at large on whole Iran issue. Altho decision to refer matter to SC has been taken by govt and accepted by country at large and talk of force has temporarily at least receded into background, I do not see how govt can agree to or acquiesce in a res which does not express or imply moral condemnation of Iran for expulsion order.

In conversation with Holmes today, Makins, who is acting head of FonOff, strongly represented cab mins’ consternation at stand we have taken re Brit draft res. Makins added that French have promised them unqualified support of Brit res. Dept is, of course, already aware of this from Morrison’s personal msg to Secretary2 [Page 189] and from Franks conversations in Wash. I do not want to give impression of arguing Brit case, especially since I think their draft res leaves much to be desired,3 but neither do I think ours goes far enough. Whatever earlier history of this dispute may have been and whatever Brit failings (and they have undoubtedly been many), it seems to me that they have on whole conducted themselves responsibly in recent months and whatever their inclinations may otherwise have been, have deferred to our views at number of crucial points. But we have now reached point where it seems to me there is clear-cut issue before us: Do we condemn or at least imply condemnation of Mossadeq for his continued irresponsibility or do we in effect condone it by associating ourselves with a res which attaches no blame and treats both parties equally?

The Brit say we have counselled against the use of force and now, in the next breath, we deny them support when they seek to obtain a judgment from the SC based on the rule of law. They are hurt and bewildered at this attitude of their main ally. It is no good talking to them about the parliamentary sitn in the UN; they feel that they are right and that if we would simply back a strong res such as they have in mind, they are confident that it wld command the necessary seven votes. Similarly, it is no good talking to them about the veto; that is a risk they point out we run in almost any important substantive matter before the SC. It is no good talking to them about possibility of a strong res strengthening Mossadeq’s hand, they maintain that a moral condemnation of Iran will make the Iranian people think twice as to where their action thus far has taken them and will therefore strengthen the hand of the opposition.

I feel confident that the Dept appreciates domestic significance of this problem in this pre-election period. This is no time for Anglo–Amer divergencies to become apparent on a question to which so much moral importance is attached here. Nor is it any time to risk weakening confidence of those who believe in workability of Anglo–Amer alliance.

I hope most earnestly that Dept may be able to give urgent consideration to these points with a view toward evolving new res which avoids what I consider needlessly provocative tone of Brit [Page 190] res and, at same time, weak nature of ours. I wld suggest that such res might call on govt of Iran to signify, as UK govt has already done, its willingness to act in conformity with provisional measures recommended by ICJ, or, failing this, to work out with UK Govt temporary measures acceptable to both parties and, in meantime, to suspend its order expelling Brit staff from Abadan. I have no knowledge as to whether foregoing suggestion wld be acceptable to Brit. It may or may not be worthy of consideration but essential point is we must in my opinion take a stronger position in support of Brit than our draft res provides.

  1. Repeated to Tehran.
  2. On Oct. 1 Ambassador Franks left the following message signed by Herbert Morrison and dated Sept. 30, for Secretary Acheson:

    “My Dear Dean: I do not doubt the sincerity of the motives underlying the United States proposed Resolution in the Security Council on the Persian question, but I am bound to say that I am deeply concerned by its implications. I feel rather strongly that it is out of harmony with the friendly and understanding talks we had in Washington. We have honourably abided by The Hague decision and I do not like, after all our efforts for a peaceful and not ungenerous solution, being put into the dock together with Dr. Musaddiq. You know full well the efforts I have made in this country towards a close alignment of the policies of our two nations and at times it has been a difficult task—and there is no doubt that British public opinion would strongly resent the imputation in the United States Resolution if they heard of it. I ask you most earnestly as friend to friend to take this into account and to reconsider the United States proposal. America will surely not refuse to stand together with us in seeking to uphold through the United Nations the rule of law which has been our guiding principle in this issue.”

    In a memorandum dated Oct. 1, Perkins stated that Ambassador Franks told him when he left the message that the British were withdrawing their technicians from Abadan and that this made the U.S. draft appropriate and the British draft resolution more appropriate. Bearing this in mind, Perkins told Franks that the Department of State would instruct its representatives at the United Nations to discuss the proposed resolution with their British counterparts with a view to working out the best possible draft. The text of Morrison’s message and Perkins’ memorandum are attached to a memorandum from Webb to Perkins, dated Oct. 2, in file 888.2553 AIOC/10–151.

  3. Regarding the British draft resolution, see Document 92.