CIA Admits Role in Iran's Coup—60 Years Later

Releases documents acknowledging it was behind overthrow of Mossadeq in '53

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 19, 2013 7:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – It's only taken 60 years, but the CIA has finally acknowledged its role in the 1953 coup of democratically elected Iranian PM Mohammad Mossadeq. In documents released to the independent National Security Archive website, an internal report says: "[T]he military coup that overthrew Mosadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy," Foreign Policy reports. It was hardly a secret—former operatives have written books about the coup, and both Clinton and Obama have acknowledged it. But this appears to be the first time the CIA ever has.

"[I]t was estimated that Iran was in real danger of falling behind the Iron Curtain; if that happened it would mean a victory for the Soviets in the Cold War and a major setback for the West in the Middle East," the operation's architect, Donald Wilber, wrote in one document, per the BBC. The US and its partner in the operation, the UK, were also motivated by Mossadeq's move to nationalize the country's formerly British-controlled oil industry. The documents show the CIA planted anti-Mossadeq stories in both the Iranian and US media, and organized rallies against him. "By the end of 19 August," wrote Wilber, "members of the Mossadeq government were either in hiding or were incarcerated."

Mohammad Mossadeq.
Mohammad Mossadeq.   (Wikimedia Commons)
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