State of Health of Former
Prime Minister Mossadeq

Private 1967 Memo From The U.S. Embassy in Tehran

Arash Norouzi & Ebrahim Norouzi, MD
The Mossadegh Project | November 6, 2015                       

Former Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh (1882-1967) in Ahmadabad On a humanitarian level, it’s unlikely that most U.S. officials were genuinely concerned for the welfare of the popular Iranian leader their government helped depose in a bloody coup. However, his medical condition was of interest for security reasons.

A 1967 memo from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran relayed a conversation on his status between Martin F. Herz (1917-1983), Counselor of Embassy for Political Affairs, and Mossadegh’s grandson, National Front member Hedayat Matine-Daftari. Herz, a career Foreign Services officer and diplomat, had been stationed in Iran since 1963, and left the same year as this memo. He later became U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria.

By this time, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh was 84 years old and had been under house arrest in his ancestral home village of Ahmadabad since 1956, following a three year prison term in solitary confinement.

Per their chance conversation at the Caspian Hotel, Herz concluded that Mossadegh did not have cancer and was, despite his age and medical issues, basically “vigorous and healthy”.

Six weeks later, Dr. Mossadegh was dead from cancer.

U.S. State Department Documents | IRAN



Participants: Hedayatollah Matin-Daftary, grandson of Mossadeq
Martin F. Herz, Counselor of Embassy
Place: Caspian Hotel
Time: January 23, 1967
Subject: State of Health of Former Prime Minister Mossadeq
Distribution: DCM/Ambassador; [1] OR; POL Rdg.; IRN-Eliot; [Theodore L. Eliot, Jr.]
INR-Bolster; [Archie M. Bolster—Bureau of Intelligence and Research]
MFN chron.

I ran into Matin-Daftary by accident and asked him about the health of his grandfather. He said that while Mossadeq is indeed receiving cobalt treatment, people have jumped to the conclusion that he has cancer. Actually the condition in his upper jaw (or lower sinus) was termed “pre-cancerous” by the doctors. It was at the point where it might have become a cancer, but it is believed that the treatment will prevent this. Mossadeq is ambulatory and, aside from the general debilitation that comes from his age and perhaps also the effects of the treatment, is just about as vigorous and healthy as might be expected.

1 DCM = Deputy Chief of Mission. The U.S. Ambassador to Iran was Armin H. Meyer (1914-2006).

Analysis by Ebrahim Norouzi, MD
Radiation Oncologist

During the time that Dr. Mossadegh underwent cobalt radiation therapy, he was in fact experiencing severe pain in his mouth and throat. This pain was due to advanced cancer of the palate-maxillary sinus region (upper jaw), in addition to side effects from the cobalt-60 therapy.

Doctors might have said that Mossadegh was only in a “pre-cancerous” state in order to not frighten the patient and his family. An earlier evaluation had even concluded that he was suffering from a dental abscess rather than cancer.

It is also possible that the biopsy was taken from the periphery of the cancerous lesion in Mossadegh’s mouth and not from the more central and clearly invasive part, erroneously ruling out a cancer diagnosis.

SENTENCED TO HANG: Mossadegh’s Media-Contrived Death Verdict
SENTENCED TO HANG: Mossadegh’s Contrived Death Verdict


Related links:

Mossadegh — A Medical Biography | by Ebrahim Norouzi, MD

U.S. State Department Farsi Spokesman Calls Mossadegh A “Hero” (2014)

Our Policy In Iran: 1962 State Dept. Memo Reveals U.S. Feared Shah’s Fall

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

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