National Security Archive: "The Battle for Iran," 1953: Re-Release of CIA Internal History Spotlights New Details about anti-Mosaddeq Coup

27 June 2014 — National Security Archive

U.S. Ambassador Loy Henderson and Some CIA Officials Initially Disagreed with Certain Premises of Coup Planners

Declassified History Implies British Ties to the Operation, Criticizes London’s Policies in Period Leading up to the Overthrow

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 476

Edited by Malcolm Byrne

For more information contact:
202 / 994-7043 or nsarchiv@gwu.edu

Washington, D.C., June 27, 2014 — During early planning for the 1953 Iran coup, U.S. Ambassador Loy Henderson warned not only that the Shah would not support the United States’ chosen replacement for Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq but that the Army would not play its hoped-for leading role without the Shah’s active cooperation, according to a newly released version of an internal CIA history of the operation posted today by the National Security Archive.

The Archive, based at The George Washington University, obtained the latest release of this history — “The Battle for Iran,” written in the mid-1970s — in response to a Mandatory Declassification Review request.  (Today’s posting includes all previously released versions of the document as well, for purposes of comparison.)

The document goes on to say that members of the CIA’s station in Tehran and certain officials at agency headquarters sided with Henderson against some of the assumptions of American coup planners, who were working under “closely held” conditions in Washington during Spring and Summer 1953.

Mainly through interviews with coup participants, scholars have known generally that disagreements existed (and eventually Henderson went along with Mosaddeq’s overthrow), but freshly declassified portions of the document posted today provide a few more specifics about the nature of the differences and who held to which views.

The history also offers the most explicit declassified references to-date to British participation in the operation.  London’s role — undoubtedly the worst-kept secret in Britain’s relationship with Iran over the past 60 years — has never been formally acknowledged by either British or U.S. authorities.

“The Battle for Iran” is one of three agency histories of the coup that are known to exist.  All three have been posted at various times on the National Security Archive’s Web site.

Check out today’s posting at the National Security Archive’s website –http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB476/

Find us on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/NSArchive

Unredacted, the Archive blog – http://nsarchive.wordpress.com/

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THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.

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