“Tragically Unnecessary Accident of Oil Nationalization”

Max Thornburg, a Standard Oil executive, acted as a consultant to the Iranian government in 1951, reviewing the “Supplementary Agreement” recently proposed by Britain. Here in this interview on Longines Chronoscope, he opins that the oil nationalization was a “tragically unnecessary accident” which none of the Iranians really wanted. He sees “Persians” as incapable of running the oil industry and the Shah as the only hope for Iran.

Interestingly, Mr. Thornburg also

[R]ecommended rejection of the Supplementary Agreement on the ground that it was not based on the 50/50 principle and was “drafted so obscurely and so ambiguously that no one in the world” could possibly understand it (FO 248/Persia 1951/1530). The AIOC publicly insisted that the 50/50 suggestion was impractical because it was “extremely difficult to calculate profits/” but privately told the British cabinet that such a division would be “uneconomical, absurd, and astronomical” (FO 371/Persia 1949/1531). In a blunt conversation with the Iranian premier, the British ambassador, Sir Francis Shepherd, declared that Iran was being “greedy” and the “only thing the company might be willing to add to these concessions was perhaps the free medical treatment of certain hysterical deputies who continued to denounce the Supplementary Agreement” (FO 371/Persia 1950/1512). [Ervand Abrahamian, “The 1953 Coup in Iran,” Science & Society, Vol. 65, No. 2 (Summer, 2001), p 186]

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