One Big Question Mark

November 1, 1951 — Ludwell Denny

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | June 14, 2021                    

Indiana born journalist, author and former Unitarian minister Ludwell Howard Denny (1894-1970) on oil negotiations with Iran. He was a foreign editor for Scripps-Howard news service, which distributed his column. One of his books was We Fight For Oil (1928), much of which covered the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (then AIOC).

OIL DISPUTE . . . By Ludwell Denny

Is There a Chance Iran May
Be Planning a Real Bargain?

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1—The United States probably will succeed in getting the British and Iranians to resume negotiations, but there is no sign of any acceptable compromise of the oil dispute.

Though Premier Mohammed Mossadegh is anxious to talk on his own terms, and remaining over in Washington for that purpose, he is as fanatical as ever. Several times in the long Tehran negotiations he seemed to be on the point of agreement, only to wiggle out at the last minute.

The slim chance that the Nationalist leader may actually be ready to strike a realistic bargain here springs from important developments in Iran during his absence. These include:

ONE—Lack of oil revenues, due to expulsion of the British company from its big Abadan refinery, is having the anticipated bankruptcy effect on the Tehran treasury. London’s retaliation, in removing Iran from its favored trade position, is adding to the economic strain.

TWO—Political opposition to the extreme Mossadegh policy is reviving. It was sufficiently strong last month to prevent parliamentary action desired by the Premier. But he forced a temporary, superficial unanimity at home by appearing before the United Nations in New York as Iranian champion against the world. Now his opponents again are pointing out that he is not getting the results in nationalized oil and revenues he promised. As a result he has sent orders to postpone national election preparations until his return.

THREE—Mossadegh’s hopes of getting large American interests to manage and market nationalized oil—despite British legal claims and the World Court’s order—have proved vain. And the German, Russian and satellite experts, who were his aces in the hole, cannot provide the necessary tanker fleet.

Blackmail Threat

FOUR—Mossadegh’s tacit blackmail threat to make a deal with Russia, unless Britain and the United States give him all he wants, is beginning to boomerang. He has been unable to collect the old $20 million Iranian gold reserve which Stalin holds in Moscow. Stalin wants oil concessions in northern Iran, which would violate the nationalization laws. [Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin] And Stalin is insisting that Iran legalize the outlawed Communist (Tudeh) Party, whose activities already weaken Mossadegh’s hold.

Meanwhile the new Conservative government in London wants to resume negotiations, Despite Churchill’s attack on the late Labor cabinet for being too soft in Iran, as a renowned imperialist he is in a better position than his predecessor to make any compromise with Mossadegh which might help Britain in the Mid East crisis. He needs a settlement. [Premier Winston Churchill]

Logically, therefore, the prospects should be excellent. But Mossadegh is neither logical nor dependable. So the whole situation is as big a question mark to Western officials as it ever was.

What Went Wrong in Iran? | Amb. Henry Grady Tells All (1952)
What Went Wrong in Iran? | Saturday Evening Post, Jan. 5, 1952


Related links:

They Wanted To Use Force In Persia | Ian Colvin, Oct. 22, 1952

Iran’s Folly in Oil Row Leaves It Fertile Field for Red Exploitation | Brooklyn Eagle (1951)

Iranian Paper Hits U.S. Offer — Cannot Buy Nation’s Freedom, Editorial On Oil Dispute Says

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

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