A Stiff Upper Lip—But 60% Poorer
Pompous Brit Hails Iran Oil Deal As Credit To England

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | October 4, 2015                    

On August 5, 1954, nearly one year after the famed anti-Mossadegh military coup in Iran (fomented by a joint Anglo-American covert operation), a settlement over the long-disputed British-owned refinery in Abadan was reached.

One Briton visiting America at the time took the opportunity to gloat about the result in an anonymous letter to the editor of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The individual (if indeed this was a real person and not some propaganda stunt) proudly viewed the agreement as a “victory” for the resolve of his countrymen, and felt that Americans ought to recognize this.

In Britain itself, however, reaction to the oil consortium deal was mixed.

While some, relieved that the long ordeal was finally over, rated it satisfactory, others were livid over their severe diminishment in both profits and British prestige. “The agreement is the most successful robbery in the world’s history”, stewed The Daily Express in an editorial. “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.”

Prior to oil nationalization, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was 100% British owned and controlled. After the deal, AIOC, now renamed British Petroleum, was left with a 40% share after splitting it between eight parties from three other countries. The biggest beneficiary of the remaining pie? American oil companies •

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Monday, August 16, 1954
“The People Speak” letters section

Sees Iran Oil Pact Victory for British

Editor, the Post-Gazette:
Now that the oil trouble is settled in Iran (Persia), I wonder how many Americans are willing to give Brittania credit for policies toward that far-off country?

The British refused to be bullied by the lachrymose demagogue, Premier Mohammed Mossadegh, and refused to be pushed by panicky Americans into making terms with Mossadegh at any price.

By and large, the new oil agreement is a victory for British firmness. Whatever else you Americans say about us, you must admit that we do know how to conduct ourselves among those so-called underdeveloped peoples.


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

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Related links:

“The Highest Compliment” — Who’s Behind This Nervy, Suspicious Letter After 1953 Coup?

Crediting Islamic Clerics For Oil Nationalization — An I.R.I. Tradition

Oil, England, Shakespeare & the Ethics of Foreign Concessions

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

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