U.S. Sees Some Hope for Iranian Solution

September 26, 1952 — The Associated Press

The Mossadegh Project | October 25, 2021                   

A 1952 report on Anglo-American negotiations with Iran by John M. Hightower (1909-1987). A native of Tennessee, Hightower won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism the same year.

U.S. Sees Faint Hope in Mossadegh’s New Proposal to End Iran Oil Dispute


AP (The Associated Press) WASHINGTON (AP) — United States officials saw some hope today—but not very much—in Premier Mossadegh’s latest proposal for a settlement of his country’s oil dispute with Britain.

The Iranian premier’s tough talking note—he appeared to imply his country might go communist unless his demands were met—was received here yesterday, addressed to President Truman. [Harry Truman]

It was in the form of a copy of a detailed set of counter proposals—which he addressed initially was seen in this paragraph to British Prime Minister Churchill: [Winston Churchill]

The message to the two Western leaders was considered tough in three respects:

1. Mossadegh rejected as “inequitable” a joint settlement plan which Truman and Churchill placed before him on Aug. 30.

2. He waved the apparent Communist threat.

3. He gave only 10 days for an answer.

The implied threat to yield to communism was seen in this paragraph:

“In the present circumstances the Iranian nation may follow one of two roads: either it should endeavor to improve the social conditions and ameliorate the situation of the deprived classes, something that would be impossible without the income from oil, or, if this road remains blocked, it should surrender itself to probably future events which would be to the detriment of world peace.”

State Department officials said there would be quick consultation between British and American leaders who have struggled with the Iranian problem for months, not so much because of the oil dispute itself as because of the strong belief here that unless the dispute is settled the threat of a Communist takeover in Iran is indeed serious.

The principal reason for hope among American experts now is that Mossadegh has not closed the door to a settlement.

One informant said “Our policy certainly is do all we can to that end now that he has not closed it”.

However, the odds against a settlement still appeared almost overwhelming, particularly because one of Mossadegh’s powerful political supporters has already attacked Mossadegh’s proposals as too soft and in effect threatened an overthrow of the government if they are accepted.

The western powers thus found themselves in a position of uncertainty over what Iran eventually would be prepared to accept in the way of a deal, if anything.

The basis of Mossadegh’s proposition was that claims for compensation by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company as a result of Iranian nationalization of oil 18 months ago could be determined by the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Truman and Churchill had proposed this so there was no dispute on that point.

Mossadegh, however, laid down a number of conditions which would have to be agreed to before the case went to the court.

One would limit Anglo Iranian Oil Co. claims to compensation for actual loss of physical property, thereby eliminating any claims for loss of profits.

But what is regarded here as the most difficult obstacle is a demand that Britain pay Iran an advance 49 million pounds which the Anglo Iranian Oil Company had been accumulating to pay in royalties to Iran under an agreement which the Iranian Parliament never ratified.

Mossadegh has always contended this money really belonged to his country and now he has insisted, as State Department officials read his note, that it should be paid in pound sterling convertible into dollars. That would mean a maximum dollar demand on Britain’s slender dollar reserves.

Alternate headlines:

Iranian Boss Makes Threat
U.S. Sees Some Hope To End Dispute Over Iran Oil
U.S. Officials See Slim Hope In Iran Dispute — Mossadegh Sends Thinly-Veiled Threat Of Bolt To Communism
See Hope In Proposal From Mossadegh — Capital Thinks Door Not Closed To Settlement

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Related links:

Britain and Iran | Evening Herald (Shenandoah, PA), June 21, 1951

Open To Bribery | The Daily Press (St. Marys, PA), Sept. 26, 1952

The Iranian Dictator | The Pittsburgh Press, August 5, 1952

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

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