US nearly bungled plot to oust Iranian leader

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The Independent US

Details of the covert CIA and British intelligence operation to overthrow the government of Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran 47 years ago were made public inThe New York Times yesterday in what appeared to be the latest olive branch extended by the US administration to the current Iranian leadership.

Much information about the operation, which was conceived by British intelligence and implemented jointly by Britain and the US, is already in the public domain. But the latest account is the most frank admission yet of how much of the planning went wrong and how nearly the operation failed.

In this account, written in 1954, one of the anti-Mossadegh coup's planners relates how itsucceeded almost by mistake. One of the impediments, he says, was the indecision of the then shah, who refused to sign CIA-drafted decrees to dismiss Mr Mossadegh, the elected prime minister, and then fled just before the coup succeeded.

The New York Times did not explain how it came by the document but there was no suggestion that the CIA would be unhappy to see it published. The strong likelihood is thatit was made available to underline that Washington is sincere in its desire to improve relations with Iran.