740.0011 European War 1939/13803: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom to the Secretary of State
London, August 8, 1941 — 10 p.m.
[Received August 8 — 9:55 p.m.]
For the Secretary and the Under Secretary.
Mr. Eden asked me to see him this afternoon and gave me the text of a message which is being sent to the British Minister at Tehran instructing him on August 16 to present to the Iranian Government a lengthy memorandum dealing with the presence of Germans in Iran and the urgent necessity for their removal from the country. The British Minister is also requested to hand a copy at the same time if possible to the Shah66 himself or at least to insure that the Shah receives a copy without delay.
The text of the memorandum to be presented to the Iranian Government after references to continued affirmation on the part of the Iranian Government of its desire to maintain an attitude of neutrality and to remain outside the zone of hostilities in the present war, points out that this desire had been equally felt by other states who have since been attached or overrun by German armed forces. In light of this incontestable fact the British Government feels it is obliged to put forward in the most friendly spirit certain observations to which the Iranian Government’s most serious attention is invited.
The British Government emphasizes the fact that it accepts and endorses the Iranian Government’s policy of neutrality and declares that it has no designs against Iran’s political independence. It points out that with the development of the war, however, a serious danger to both Iran and to British interests has become manifest. It recalls that as long ago as January last the British Government brought to the notice of the Iranian authorities its grave concern in regard to excessively large numbers of German nationals who had been permitted to reside in Iran. This concern of the British Government has on subsequent occasions been reaffirmed to the Iranian Government. The Iranian Government appears to have recognized the wisdom of the advice given by the British Government that the number of Germans should be drastically reduced and has indicated that it is taking steps to insure that Germans whose residence permits have expired, whose conduct is suspected or who can be replaced by Iranians should leave the country as soon as possible. The Iranian Government has also admitted its obligation to keep the activities of such Germans as remain under strict control. The number of Germans who have in fact left the country is, however, very small and the British Government observes that the Iranian Government has still failed to realize the urgency of the problem and the gravity with which it is regarded by the British Government. In these circumstances the British Government repeats in the most formal and emphatic manner its recommendation that the German community in Iran should be required without further delay to leave the country. If the Iranian Government should wish to retain temporarily a few German technicians now engaged on important work in connection with Iranian industry it is requested that a complete list of the names of these technicians whom it is desired to retain and the exact nature of the work on which they are employed should be communicated to the British Minister at Tehran. The British Government would expect this list to be kept as small as possible. None of the German technicians to be so retained should be employed on work connected with the Iranian system of communications, railroads, roads, telegraphs, telephones, wireless or where their harmful activities during a period of crisis might paralyze the national life of Iran. It is requested that similar steps be taken to control the activities of refugees who fled from Iraq and it is pointed out that the Iranian Government is under clear obligation to take effective measures to prevent the use of Iranian territory by these refugees for intrigues directed against Iraq and its allies.
A separate telegram sent to the British Minister at Tehran following the foregoing informs him that in discussing with Iranian Government the suggestion that certain German technicians be allowed to remain in Iran he should keep clearly in mind that the British object is to obtain reduction of Germans by four-fifths; It is pointed out that no time limit has been inserted in the memorandum as it is not desired to give it the character of an ultimatum. The British Minister is told, however, that he should make it clear in conversation that the British Government hopes for an immediate assurance from the Iranian Government that the reduction of 80% will have been made by August 31.
Mr. Eden informed me that the Soviet representative at Tehran is being instructed to make the same representations, and he said that it would be of great help if the American Minister at Tehran might be authorized to say to the Government that in his opinion the British and the Russian point of view is a right and necessary one and that the Iranian Government should meet it. He said that both the British and the Russians are going to emphasize that they have no territorial ambitions whatever in Iran and he said the Russian Government had recently given clear assurances to the British Government that they have no territorial ambitions whatever in Iran — they simply want to get the Germans out.
The Turks have been informed of this move in Iran and Mr. Eden says that they do not like it because of their apparent suspicion of Russian aims in Iran. He hopes that our Ambassador at Ankara may be authorized to express approval of the move as a necessary one and one not designed to impair the political status of Iran.
In order to further allay if possible Turkish suspicions of Russia the British and Russian Governments have agreed to make a unilateral secret declaration to the Turkish Government which goes a very long way for Russia, as it disclaims any aggressive intentions or claims to the Straits.
They think here that the Russian declaration may be given greater weight at Ankara by the fact that it is to be paralleled by a similar British declaration, as the Turks do not suspect Great Britain of any ulterior designs on the Straits.
The following is the English text of the proposed Soviet Government’s declaration to Turkey which was given me by Mr. Eden:
The Soviet Government confirm their loyalty to the Montreux Convention and assure the Turkish Government that they have no aggressive intentions or claims whatever with regard to the Straits. The Soviet Government as also his Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom are prepared scrupulously to observe the territorial integrity of the Turkish Republic.
While fully appreciating the desire of the Turkish Government not to be involved in war the Soviet Government, as also his Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, would be prepared to render Turkey every help and assistance in the event of her being attacked by any European [power?].
Eden says that his Government hopes above all that it will not be necessary to take direct action in Iran, they must envisage the possibility, however, that the Germans may reach the Caucasus and the borders of Iran and cannot allow the dangerous nucleus of German technicians and political agents now in Iran to remain there. I gather from him that the Russians share these views.
If the Department should feel it can go any way to meet Mr. Eden’s desire for American action at Tehran and Ankara, I would appreciate being advised by telegraph.
Full text of memorandum will be forwarded by next airmail pouch.