Dean Acheson Writes Mossadegh

Oct. 1952 Letter Conveys Truman’s Disappointment

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | April 20, 2022                     

Secretary of State Dean Acheson and Premier Mohammad Mossadegh (1951)

Secretary of State Dean Acheson wrote this letter to Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh as a response to Mossadegh’s Sept. 27th letter to President Harry Truman, who authorized Acheson to reply for him. It was delivered by Amb. Loy Henderson on Oct. 5, 1952, coinciding with a similar note from Anthony Eden.

U.S. State Department Documents | IRAN


I have been in touch with the President since he received your message of September 24, 1952, and, since he is away from the Capital at this time, he has authorized me to acknowledge your letter. He is disappointed to learn from it that you have found unacceptable the proposals which were put forward on August 30, 1952.

It had been our understanding that the Iranian Government’s position was that negotiation for settlement of the oil dispute must take into account: (a) the fact of nationalization, (b) the complete independence of Iran in the operation of its oil industry, and (c) the freedom of Iran to sell its oil on other than a monopoly basis.

It was and is our sincere belief that the proposals which were put forward on August 30 met these points. These proposals clearly recognized the fact of nationalization and did not seek to revive the 1933 Concession, or any concession. Foreign management of the industry was not put forward as a condition, or even suggested. There was no intent to propose a monopoly of the purchase of Iranian oil.

As regards claim for compensation by the Company and the counter claims by Iran, we suggested a method of settlement of all claims by impartial adjudication. [Anglo-Iranian Oil Company] There are doubtless other equitable methods. In regard to the question of the price to be paid for Iranian oil, we suggested that this should be worked out between purchaser and seller rather than by Governments.

Regardless of the acceptability of the proposals of August 30, it is a matter of regret to us that their meaning should have been misunderstood. We have tried to correct this because of the real importance which attaches to our words being understood by you as they were meant by us.

• Source: Documentary History of the Truman Presidency: Oil crisis in Iran (1995)

• Also in:
The Department of State Bulletin
Vol. XXVII, No. 693 • Publication 4730
October 6, 1952

Proposals to Iran Clarified
Press release 780 dated October 5

Following is the text of a note from Secretary Acheson to Prime Minister Mossadegh of Iran, delivered on October 5 by Ambassador Loy W. Henderson:

Dean Acheson's telegram to President Harry Truman

What Went Wrong in Iran? | Amb. Henry Grady Tells All (1952)
What Went Wrong in Iran? | Saturday Evening Post, Jan. 5, 1952


Related links:

Amb. Henry Grady Reports on Mossadegh Meeting (July 29, 1951)

Mossadeq’s New Proposals Offer No Hope For Oil Settlement (Jan. 31, 1953)

Max Thornburg Talks Iran With Dean Acheson, William Rountree (July 5, 1951)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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