Profiles In Courage
December 7, 1953 — The Sydney Morning Herald

The Mossadegh Project | November 4, 2019                           


U.S.-Iranian relations were broken in 1952 when Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was in office. They were restored under the coup government on December 5, 1953, two days before this Australian newspaper editorial was published.

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



Politics And Oil In Persia

Resumption of diplomatic relations with Britain while the oil dispute was still unsettled demanded from the Persian Government political courage as well as political wisdom, and may well prove a severe test for the Zahedi regime. The bitter denunciation of the move by the veteran Mullah Kashani, who had previously supported General Zahedi, [Premier Fazlollah Zahedi] undoubtedly reflects the feelings of a great many Persians, and will give a dangerous fillip to the “National Resistance Movement” the Communists have succeeded in building up. Dr. Mussadiq’s policies, however ruinous, tuned in very well with nationalist sentiment.

The Teheran Government has done its best to prepare Persian opinion for the opening of the “new chapter in relations with Britain” to which Mr. Eden looked by telling the people for the first time just what those policies have cost the country. [British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden] A recent broadcast by the Prime Minister, [Zahedi] for instance, declared that Dr. Mussadiq had deprived Persia of £30 million a year in oil revenues, and that it would cost “millions of pounds of foreign money” to restore the wrecked Abadan installations. In this effort the Government has certainly met with considerable success, but there remains a large section of the Persian public that regards any improvement in relations with Britain with the deepest suspicion.

That is why General Zahedi tried to make resumption of diplomatic relations conditional on an oil settlement. He has been obliged to accept the British view, that this order of things should be reversed, but the fate of his Government undoubtedly depends on the speedy and successful conclusion of negotiations with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Politically, he can afford neither to delay too long nor to yield too much; economically, Persian oil must be sold on the world markets again if orderly administration is to be maintained in Teheran.

In fact, the prospects of a settlement are good. Britain is prepared to recognise the principle of nationalisation. The major point at issue is compensation for the £350 million Abadan refinery and other A.I.O.C. capital equipment, and there seems no reason why agreement should not be reached on this now that Dr. Mussadiq’s virulent xenophobia no longer directs Persian policy.

But, granted agreement, it will be no easy task to get Persian oil flowing again and to market it. Increased production in other Middle Eastern areas has more than made good the 30 million tons a year lost in 1951, and the return of Persian oil at this stage would be an embarrassment. It has been suggested that, despite America’s anti-trust laws, the major oil companies may have to be asked to form a marketing cartel for the unusual purpose of equalising the sacrifices necessary to accommodate Persian production.

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:

Persia Looks To The West | The Sydney Morning Herald, November 3, 1953

State Dept. Legal Adviser Herman Phleger on Iran Oil Talks | December 8, 1953

Persian Oil | The West Australian (Perth) editorial, July 21, 1954



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

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