Sixty years after the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, a declassified CIA document acknowledges that the agency was involved in the 1953 coup.
The independent National Security Archive research institute, which published the document Monday, says the declassification is believed to mark the CIA’s first formal acknowledgment of its involvement.
The documents, declassified in 2011 and given to George Washington University research group under the Freedom of Information Act, come from the CIA’s internal history of Iran from the mid-1970s and paint a detailed picture of how the CIA worked to oust Mossadegh.
In a key line pointed out by Malcom Byrne, the editor who worked through the documents, the CIA spells out its involvement in the coup. “The military coup that overthrew Mossadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government,” the document says, using a variation of the spelling of Mossadegh’s name.
While this might be the CIA’s first formal nod, the U.S. role has long been known.
President Barack Obama acknowledged the United States’ involvement in the coup during a 2009 speech in Cairo.
“In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government,” the president said.
In 2000, then-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke of the intervention, and in the same year, the New York Times published what it said was a leaked 1954 CIA-written account of the overthrow.
After winning independence from Great Britain, Iranians elected Mossadegh prime minister in 1951. Quickly, the leader moved to nationalize oil production in the country — a move that would have been a serious blow to the United States and Britain and a win for the USSR.
Because of the failure of oil negotiations with Iran, along with a number of other issues, the United States was concerned “that Iran was in real danger of falling behind the Iron Curtain.”
Isn’t this a vile form of extremism that undermines US claim to be the champion of human rights around the world?