Henry Grady Meets Mossadegh

U.S. Ambassador Talks With New Iranian Premier

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | October 5, 2017                        

Henry Francis Grady, U.S. Ambassador to Iran As the United States Ambassador to Iran in 1950-1951, Henry F. Grady had dealt with Ali Razmara and Hossein Ala during their brief tenures as Prime Minister. Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, elected by the Majles on April 28, 1951, turned out to be the most consequential of these relationships.

The following telegram from Grady reported back to the State Dept. a summary of his May 2nd meeting with the new Premier, which appears to have been their first such encounter. The concise message dealt largely with the British, to whom the message was also copied to.

U.S. State Department Documents | IRAN

781.13/5–251: Telegram

No. 17

The Ambassador in Iran (Grady)
to the Department of State

TEHRAN , May 2, 1951—1 p.m.


2650. Mosadeq, whom I saw this morning, [was] most cordial and eager for American goodwill and assistance. He expressed appreciation of our non-interference in [the] oil question. He expressed confidence in our disinterestedness and fine intentions regarding Iran, but with warmth criticized British interference in Iranian affairs which he is dedicated to put [a] stop to.

I stated our position with regard to nationalization and stressed that it is absolutely necessary that there be no confiscation or partial confiscation of the oil company’s property. In this connection, I emphasized that negotiation with the British was necessary. He said there was nothing to negotiate as the Majlis had acted. This, I said, was unilateral action and if there was no negotiation, [a] very bad impression would be made in our government and in American public opinion. I avoided discussing the particulars of the oil resolution. I pressed the importance of approach and procedure rather than program which is [a] matter for the British.

On our program of military and economic aid, he put all stress on economic. He rather depreciated what we have done up to now and said if he had had his way our Point IV would have been rejected as quite inadequate. I stated emphatically that Iran was under no obligation to accept any aid either military or economic. I called his attention to [the] fact [that the] Export-Import Bank loan has been available for four months, that had it been accepted promptly agricultural equipment provided by the loan would already be in Iran stimulating its economic recovery. He wished shortly to have full discussion with me regarding the loan and ended by saying if the Iranians up to now had had their just dues from oil, they would need no foreign loans or foreign assistance of any kind. [When Mossadegh later asked for the Export-Import Bank loan he was denied]


• 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)

• “On Apr. 27 Prime Minister Ala Hossein Ala suddenly resigned and the Department of State cabled Grady asking whether the British had been responsible. (Telegram 1976 to Tehran, Apr. 28; 788.13/4–2851) Ambassador Grady replied that there was no evidence to suggest British responsibility and that in an interview on Apr. 30 Ala indicated that he had resigned because Mosadeq and the Special Oil Commission were consistently ignoring his government and going directly to the Majlis. (Telegrams 2603 and 2633 from Tehran, Apr. 29 and May 1; 788.13/4–2951 and 888.2553/5–151) Two days after Ala’s resignation, the Shah approved Dr. Mohammad Mosadeq as Prime Minister” — U.S. State Department Office of the Historian

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Related links:

Estimate of the Political Strength of the Mosadeq Government (May 1951)

Max Thornburg: Notes For Discussion With Dean Acheson (July 1951)

Grady to Report U.S. Must Lead In Middle East | Doris Fleeson, Sept. 26, 1951

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

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