Pessimism About Persia
Pierson Dixon, Henry Byroade Meet in Bermuda

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | May 31, 2019                     

Pierson John Dixon (1904-1965) While in Bermuda, Sir Pierson John Dixon (1904-1965), Deputy Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, discussed the Anglo-Iranian dilemmas in Iran and Egypt with Henry Byroade, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs.

Pierson found his American counterpart “unduly pessimistic” about the prospects of a smooth and timely oil settlement in Iran, and hinted that U.S. support and faith in Britain would win the day.

British Foreign Office Documents on Iran | 1951-1954
Iran Oil Consortium | Archive of Documents (1953-1954)

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C (53) 360





Memorandum by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

I circulate herewith, for the information of my colleagues, the record of a conversation on 8th December at Bermuda between Sir Pierson Dixon, Deputy Under-Secretary of State in the Foreign Office, and Mr. Henry Byroade, Under-Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs in the United States State Department.

A.E. [Anthony Eden]

Foreign Office, S.W.1.

23RD DECEMBER, 1953.



Mr. Henry Byroade, who has been cooling his heels in Bermuda for several days, came to see me to-day about Persia and Egypt.

Mr. Byroade began by saying that he was pessimistic about the situation in Persia. His fear was that after the British representative got to Tehran, oil negotiations would be long drawn out. The effect of this would be mounting difficulties for the Persian Government and growing unpopularity for the British. He hoped we realised how important it was to get off to a good start, and in this connection take the Persian Government’s hint about Mr. Hankey. [Robert Hankey]

I replied that, as regards our representation in Persia, we were inclined to agree that it might be better to send out personnel who had not served in Persia before. In the case of Mr. Hankey there was the additional point that he had been rejected by Dr. Musaddiq: it was in response to a direct suggestion from the Shah that Mr. Hankey’s name had been considered. [Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, former Iranian Premier, had declined Hankey as Ambassador to Iran in Jan. 1952]

On the general point I said that Mr. Byroade was unduly pessimistic. It was not our intention to drag out the oil negotiations. What we wanted to do was to receive a first-hand report from our Charge d’Affaires. If, as we anticipated, this confirmed that it would not be possible for the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company to return, we would start working for a consortium. The constitution of a consortium would in itself be a long business, and I quite agreed that a dangerous interval might elapse before the oil got moving again.

This, however, was a problem which our two Governments and the Companies concerned would have to face. Personally I had always found a reluctance on the part of the oil companies to make generous gestures by way of advances of money before concluding agreements, for the simple reason that to do so weakened their negotiating position. The instinct thus was to withhold credit in the hope of making the other side more anxious to conclude a reasonable agreement. That, however, was a fence which we could jump when we came to it.

So far as things stood at present, Mr. Hoover [Herbert Hoover, Jr.] and Sir William Fraser, the Chairman of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, had gone quite a long way in London in discussing the possibilities of a consortium, and Sir William Fraser had in fact approached the major oil companies having interests in Middle East oil. Mr. Byroade said he was aware of this.

Turning to the political aspect, Mr. Byroade said that many Persians — even those friendly to the West — feared that Her Majesty’s Government might work for the overthrow of the present Government if they could not extract a satisfactory oil agreement from them. Could it be said that we fully supported the present Persian Government? I replied that this could certainly be said. I had heard no suggestion whatsoever of the kind he had mentioned.

In conclusion I pointed the contrast between conditions in Persia and Egypt. In both cases many members of the American Administration had shown pessimism about the possibilities of a settlement on the lines advocated by Her Majesty’s Government. In the case of Persia we had received support from the United States, and the result had been that we had got the resumption of diplomatic relations, which we had wanted. Why could the Americans not give us the same full support in the case of Egypt? Was there not a chance that we might be right there as we had been in the case of Persia?



[Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954
Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954


Related links:

British Had “Colonial Aims in Iran” (Abdollah Entezam, Nov. 2, 1953)

Loy Henderson and Hoover’s Dinner With Fazlollah Zahedi, Entezam (Oct. 1953)

Sec. of State Dulles: “Extreme nationalization is the greatest problem” (Sept. 23, 1953 cable)

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

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