Once expunged from its official history, documents outlining the US-backed 1953 coup in Iran have been quietly published by the State Department, offering a new glimpse at an operation that ultimately pushed the country toward its Islamic Revolution and hostility with the West. The CIA's role in the coup, which toppled Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and cemented the control of the shah, was already well known by the time the State Department offered its first compendium on the era in 1989. But any trace of American involvement in the putsch had been wiped from the report, causing historians to call it a fraud. The papers released this month show US fears over the spread of communism, as well as the British desire to regain access to Iran's oil industry, which had been nationalized by Mossadegh, the AP reports.
The 1,007-page report, comprised of letters and diplomatic cables, shows US officials discussing a coup up to a year before it took place. While America worried about Soviet influence in Iran, the British remained focused on resolving a dispute over the nationalization of the country's oil refinery at Abadan, at the time one of the world's largest. Many also feared further instability following the 1951 assassination of Premier Ali Razmara. The report fills in the large gaps of the initial 1989 historical document outlining the years surrounding the 1953 coup in Iran. The release of that report led to the resignation of the historian in charge of a State Department review board and to Congress passing a law requiring a more reliable historical account be made. Experts think the release of the latest documents may have been accelerated under President Donald Trump, who has adopted a much more confrontational stance toward Iran. (Read more Iran stories.)