Iranian Odyssey 51:00, 2009 (Ref: ME09730)



The West’s attitudes towards Iran today can be traced back to 1951 when Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh tried to end British domination of Iran. Mossadegh nationalized Iranian oil which had been monopolized by a single British company, BP, for more than 40 years. Mossadegh had to fight against a virtual alliance of foreign and domestic enemies. They undermined him in a struggle for power and control of oil. A struggle which culminated in a coup d’etat plotted and carried out by the CIA in August 1953. More than 60-years later it is impossible to understand Iran without understanding Mossadegh’s victories and failures. Through exclusive access to eye-witnesses and the characters of the story in Iran, UK and the US as well as never before seen archival material we tell the gripping story of the rise and fall of Mossadegh. He became Prime Minister in April, 1951. Within a few months, his government took over the assets of The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The company is now known as BP. The British government owned 51 percent of the Oil Company. The British government’s revenue from Iranian oil was double the amount of the Iranian government’s.  The Oil Company had built Iran’s oil industry from scratch in exchange for total control over exploration and sale of the oil. It had invested millions of pounds in building infrastructure, roads and ports. But the way they protected their interests created resentment in the oil-rich province of Khuzistan. After the nationalisation, Mossadegh became a hate figure in Great Britain. The British government took legal action against Mossadegh at the International Court of Justice. The court asked Iran to cease the nationalisation process until it reached a decision. Mossadegh ignored the court’s decision and insisted that Iran’s argument was with a British company and the not the government. The British navy blockaded Iran’s oil. Several tankers were stopped in the Persian Gulf. British paratroopers were ready to invade Iran. All major international oil companies joined the boycott against Iran. They didn’t want Mossadegh’s nationalisation to become a model for other countries to follow. From the moment Iran nationalised its oil it couldn’t sell it. While the British government was going through international diplomatic channels, British diplomats in Tehran began a covert operation to overthrow Mossadegh.