Back In the USSR

October 5, 1951 — J. C. Oestreicher (INS)

The Mossadegh Project | February 23, 2023                  

Syndicated content by J. C. Oestreicher, International News Service writer and Foreign Director. Oestreicher was the author of The World Is Their Beat (1945), a book about the field of journalism.

In View Of The News

by J. C. Oestreicher
International News Service, Foreign Director

Soviet Russia has begun to move slowly today in an effort to take up where Great Britain was forced to abandon operations in the Iranian oil fields and a vast shift of power in the Middle East is now a strong possibility.

Less than 24 hours after more than 300 dejected experts and technicians of the once great Anglo-Iranian Oil Company left from the port of Abadan, the Russians made their first move.

Soviet Ambassador Ivan Sadchikov called on Premier Mossadegh for a review of the situation.

There were few official details of the meeting. They were reported to have discussed a possible trade agreement for a far greater interchange of necessities. Britain has banned the export of scarce and war-valuable goods to Iran. But in addition to this, Sadchikov is believed to have begun the spadework of some arrangement whereby Russia would fill Britain’s shoes in oil-rich Iran.

A necessary step, of course, would be a break between Iran and the West. While relations are badly strained and have been since the oil nationalization program began, there is no real rupture as yet and there is always the hopeful possibility that it may not come.

For one thing, Mossadegh has announced his intention of flying to New York on Sunday in connection with Britain’s protest to the United Nations Security Council against Iran’s unilateral action.

This would indicate a continued willingness to negotiate even though Mossadegh may not appear personally before the council. Tehran dispatches say that because of his chronic illness, he will make his headquarters in a hospital.

There is also the fact that, if nothing, else, the Iranians seem to have some degree of realization that their continuation as an independent nation with a voice in the councils of the world depend on at least some measure of cooperation.

They must know from, past experience also that a “surrender” to Russia with regard to control of the oil fields could mean nothing else than a tremendous increase in Soviet strength on their northern border and the great possibility that within a certain length of time they would find themselves tools if not slaves of the Communist system.

It is no secret that Russia long has cast covetous eyes on Iranian oil.

Military and diplomatic observers in the Western states which hold the hopeful view that Russia is not prepared for all-out war base their estimate largely upon Soviet shortage of oil.

Easy access to the resources of Iran obviously would change this situation overnight.

The Russians have great fields and refineries at Baku and Batum.

But the best available information is that the petroleum production is not sufficient to support the Soviet Union in an all-out war aggression.

Russian scientists and prospectors are known to have been searching for fresh deposits in Siberia. They may well exist. But the construction of refineries and the laying of pipe-lines is a long and costly process.

In contrast to the Siberian exploration, Iran has the greatest refinery in the world, built with British funds, and an inexhaustible supply of oil which could be piped a few hundred miles to a Soviet railhead or shipped by Russian tankers to the arsenals of the USSR.

The Security Council meeting that will deal with the Iranian issue promises to be a dramatic and perhaps climactic one. But some observers at Flushing Meadow believe that no immediate decision may be possible and that the question may drag over until the General Assembly meets in Paris on November 6.

This at least would afford a period of grace—unless the Russians decide to take advantage of a favorable situation and move by military force or diplomatic means to “take over.” Certainly the British evacuation affords a golden opportunity. And when the Russians haven’t had ready-made opportunities in the past, they have created them.

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


Related links:

Iran Dispute Eased, But Not Solved | J. C. Oestreicher (1951)

Prudence Needed in Iranian Oil Crisis | Brooklyn Eagle, September 27, 1951

Iran to the Communists? | The Muncie Star, September 21, 1951

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

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