"Washington, D.C., August 8, 2017 – The British Foreign Office approached the Truman administration on more than one occasion in late 1952 to propose a coup to overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, according to freshly declassified State Department documents. Posted today for the first time, two previously Top-Secret memoranda from senior officials at State refer to a series of communications and meetings beginning in October 1952 in which British officials tried to win U.S. approval of Mosaddeq’s ouster."
"The British government has steadfastly refused to release any materials that directly refer to its role in the operation that eventually took place in August 1953, and has consistently pressed the United States not to reveal any substantiation from American files. In fact, evidence has existed for years that the British were intimately involved in promoting and then planning the overthrow of Mosaddeq. The most compelling sources include a leaked CIA after-action report written in 1954 and memoir accounts by various coup participants."
"Today’s posting consists of the most explicit, officially declassified records on the subject released to date by any government."
"This scrupulously mild approach reflects another interesting aspect of the memoranda – what they reveal about British tactics in their appeal to the Americans. Scholars of the coup generally agree that London’s overriding objective in the Iran crisis was to restore their stake in Iran's petroleum industry by virtually any available means, including military action. But ever since Mosaddeq nationalized the industry in Spring 1951 (then expelled British diplomats and intelligence officials from the country the following October – incidentally, not long after the first British-U.S. coup discussions mentioned in the Byroade memo), the Truman administration had balked at Britain’s persistent prodding for radical action – beyond the substantial step Washington had already taken of supporting an economic boycott against Iran. President Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson repeatedly insisted that their priority was to keep the Soviet Union and its Communist allies in Iran from gaining any advantage from the crisis. For Truman and Acheson, overtly protecting Britain's colonial interests was a non-starter because they believed it would play into Communist hands.
By late 1952, the British had adapted their methods and, as the new records confirm, couched the subject in terms that would be more appealing to the Americans – not to ask for their help in reclaiming control of Iranian oil but to assist in "combating Communism in Iran." "
[TMR: Highlighting added for emphasis.]
Posted August 8, 2017
US National Security Archive Briefing Book No. 601
Edited by Malcolm Byrne and Mark Gasiorowski
"These materials are reproduced from www.nsarchive.org with the permission of the National Security Archive."