British Press Reactions To Iran Oil Deal

August 9, 1954 — The Observer

The Mossadegh Project | November 29, 2013                  

A year after the overthrow of Premier Mohammed Mossadegh, the new Iranian government concluded its predecessor’s negotiations with Britain over the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (BP). The dispute was finalized with the incorporation of an international oil consortium which reduced BP’s share to 40%.

Here are some brief selections from editorials in major British newspapers on the oil deal from August 1954, as assembled in The Milwaukee Journal’s longstanding press-roundup column The Observer.

Iran Oil Consortium | Archive (1953-1954)

British Comments on Iran’s Oil

Financial Times – The chief importance of the agreement is strategic. It should help to secure another link in the chain which stretches from Suez to Pakistan. . . . For Britain, the loss of the assets held by Anglo-Iranian as sole concessionaire of what was in 1951 the biggest oil producing area in the middle east, cannot, of course, be wholly made good. But the company appears to have been remarkably successful in saving a solid mass of the treasure from the wreck that looked so hopeless three years ago.

Times – Further explanations will have to be made in Teheran and London to show how the claims of Persian national pride have been reconciled with economic efficiency and the rights of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. . . . Like the agreement with Egypt over Suez, the Persian settlement represents an attempt to break an intolerable deadlock. On many grounds it is open to criticism, but, as in the case of Suez, it is difficult to imagine a workable alternative.

Daily Telegraph – It would be disingenuous to pretend that the concessions made to Persia by Britain are not regrettable, both financially and from the more important standpoint of prestige. The monetary recompense to be received by Anglo-Iranian remains such that the company must announce it on a note of apology and excuse. A Persia politically stable and economically prosperous must be an asset to the free world and may well become an active ally.

Manchester Guardian – The terms of the agreement are good. . . . The Persian conflict has been a sorry tale. The best way of celebrating its end is to draw the moral, reflect upon it deeply, and hope that it will help to prevent us from blundering into disastrous disputes in the future.

Daily Express – The agreement is the most successful robbery in the world’s history. . . . This robbery has been legalized for £25,000,000 payable over 10 years, beginning three years from now, and payable out of the proceeds of the theft.


Related links:

Proud Brit Hails Iran Oil Deal As English Victory (Aug. 1954)

A Step Ahead in Iran | The Milwaukee Journal, August 9, 1954

Economist Henry Hazlitt Defends Private Industry in Anti-Nationalization Rant (1951)

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

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