Grady Reports on Mossadegh Meeting

July 29, 1951 Telegram to U.S. Embassy in London

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | August 11, 2020                    

Henry F. Grady, the United States Ambassador to Iran, cabled this report on his meeting with Premier Mohammad Mossadegh for the attention of Averell Harriman and the Ambassador to Britain.

U.S. State Department Documents | IRAN

888.2553/7–2951: Telegram

No. 61

The Ambassador in Iran (Grady) to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

Tehran, July 29, 1951—1 p.m.



Henry Francis Grady, U.S. Ambassador to Iran 90. For Harriman and Gifford. [U.S. Envoy Averell Harriman and Walter Gifford, U.S. Ambassador to the UK] [I] Saw [the] Prime Minister [Mossadegh] at 10:45 this morning and discussed with him fully [the] content of London’s 33 July 28.2 He was most cordial and expressed his very great desire to have the oil question promptly settled. He understands that discussions and [a] conditional reply of [the] British to [the] Iranian Government is [a] matter of deep secrecy and [a] British reply will only be submitted when there are assurances from him that it is acceptable. He made no difficulty about the wording and was agreeable to having in the British reply and Iranian reply reference to [the] importance of relieving present tensions which exist in [the] south. He says there is no tension of [a] serious nature there and he is perfectly willing under [the] circumstances to agree that what tension exists should be relieved in every way possible.

He has called the mixed commission and Cabinet for [a] meeting at once and will give me [a] more formal reply this evening or first thing tomorrow morning. In [the] meantime, he authorized me to tell Mr. Harriman that he has no objection to [the] proposed exchange of notes and their publication and will welcome the coming here of a mission headed by a Cabinet minute of [the] British Government. However, he asked me to say to Mr. Harriman as his own views prior to [the] meeting of mixed commission and Cabinet the following: That he assumes Mr. Harriman has brought to the attention of [the] British Government and [the] British understand and accept the minutes of [the] Cabinet meeting which he read to Mr. Harriman on July 23 (reference Embassy telegram 340 to [State] Department July 24 repeated [to] London 653) He read 3 points from [a] document in his files:

1. [The] British Government must recognize on behalf of AIOC [the] principle of [the] nationalization of southern oil.

2. The Iranian understanding and definition of [the] “principle of nationalization” is that [the] “discovery, extraction, [and] exploitation of oil must be in [the] hands of [the] Iranian Government”. He said the sale of this oil falls under [the] pertinent article of the nine-point nationalization law.

3. [The] British Government must understand [that the] Iranian Government rejected Jackson’s proposal and could not accept any proposal along [the] same lines. [Basil Jackson of AIOC] He repeated several times that he assumes Mr. Harriman had informed [the] British of [the] foregoing so that [the] British mission would not come out to Iran and say they have only accepted their interpretation of [the] “principle of nationalization”. [The] Prime Minister said he is quite willing [to] accept Mr. Harriman’s statement that [the] British understand and accept [the] above 3 points and does not require [the] Brits to write anything to this effect in their formal reply to [the] Iranian Government.

You may be sure I urged him not to put conditions as [a] prerequisite of negotiations whether these are done directly or indirectly through Mr. Harriman, but he insisted there was no use of [the] British mission coming unless [the] Iranian position was clearly and definitely understood.4

Will wire at once [if] any further word we get from Mosadeq.5


• Note: Bracketed text added and abbreviations removed from original for better readability. [Annotations by Arash Norouzi]

• Source: Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, Iran, 1951–1954, Volume X (1989)

Footnotes 1-5 below from the U.S. State Department Office of the Historian:

1 “The source text is the copy repeated to the Department as 424 for President Truman and Secretary Acheson.”


3Document 52.

4 “A more extensive record of Grady’s conversation with Mosadeq was transmitted as an enclosure to despatch 131, July 30. (888.2553/7–3051)”

5 “At 11 p.m. on July 29 Grady cabled London the following Iranian Government reply which had been handed to him by Mosadeq at 9:40 that evening:

“The Imperial Govt of Iran is pleased to note that in accordance with the formula dated Monday July 23, 1951 (Tirmah 31, 1330) which was submitted to His Excellency Averell Harriman, his Britannic Majesty’s Govt on its own behalf and on behalf of the former oil company formally recognizes the principle of nationalization of the oil industry in Iran. The Iranian Govt expects that this formal recognition shld be openly brought to the knowledge of the public and it is pleased that the Brit Govt intends to send a mission to Tehran on behalf of the former oil company to negot with the govt and with the competent authorities, and at the same time to discuss with the Iran Govt the method of execution of the law insofar as it refers to the mutual interests of the two countries. The Iran Govt believes that no tension exists in Khuzistan and is sure that the formal recognition of the principle of nationalization of the oil industry will create a more favorable atmosphere in order that the negotiations referred to above may be conducted with a spirit of sincerity and good will.” (Telegram 425 from Tehran; 888.2553/7–2951)”


Related links:

Amb. Walter Gifford’s Telegram on Britain and Iran (July 29, 1951)

Amb. Henry Grady on Mossadegh’s Cabinet, Oil Committee Prospects (May 7, 1951)

Bad Poker In Iran | August 25, 1951 editorial

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

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