Recognition In Principle
House of Commons | November 25, 1953

The Mossadegh Project | March 29, 2021                          


A question in the British House of Commons on the recognition of oil nationalization in Iran following the recent change of government.

Iran Oil Consortium | Archive of Documents (1953-1954)




Persian Oil Nationalisation (British Recognition)


Mr. Fenner Brockway [Labour Party] asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if Her Majesty’s Government recognises the legality of the nationalisation of oil in Persia in the same terms as stated by the preceding Government at the time of the Mission of the right hon. Member for Ipswich to Teheran. [Richard Stokes]

Mr. Anthony Eden: [Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs] The present Government, as I understand their predecessors also, are prepared to recognise the principle of the nationalisation of oil in Persia within the framework of an arrangement which, on the basis of justice and equity, satisfies the interests of the parties concerned.

Mr. Fenner Brockway: While appreciating that answer, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will make it known in Persia, where there seems to be some doubt about it?

Mr. Anthony Eden: I think that it would go rather well in Persia.

Mr. Richard Stokes: [Labour Party] May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he means that in fact what Her Majesty’s Government now recognise—still recognise—is what we know as the March nationalisation law and that they do not yet accept the April nationalisation law, because that has an essential difference in Persia?

Mr. Anthony Eden: I have been very careful in my answer. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there are considerable legal complications in this matter. As I understand the position, certainly neither this Government nor, from my researches through the documents, the previous Government have recognised the legality of the action hitherto taken by the Mossadeq Government. What we have said, and what I repeat now, is that we recognise the principle of nationalisation of oil subject to certain conditions being fulfilled.

Mr. Richard Stokes: Yes, I know, but, for the purpose of clarification, will the Foreign Secretary say that that in effect means the acceptance of the March law in Persia and not the acceptance of the April law, which is a very different one? The whole of the negotiations in 1951 were carried out on the basis of the March nationalisation law.

Mr. Anthony Eden: The matter is slightly more complicated than that. The nationalisation matter is inevitably connected with the question of compensation. Now that I am embarking on these new negotiations with the Persian Government I do not think that it is desirable to raise that in an acute form, but I have to safeguard our national position and that of the company, and that is why I used the words which I have employed.


• Source: Parliamentary Debates (Hansard): House of Commons Official Report
[Annotations by Arash Norouzi]


Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954
Divvying Up the Loot: The Iran Oil Consortium Agreement of 1954

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Related links:

Anglo-Persian Diplomatic Relations (Resumption) | December 7, 1953

Persian Oil Agreement | House of Commons | November 1, 1954

Britain, New Iranian Regime Closer to Oil Settlement | Nov. 25, 1953



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