CIA: We orchestrated the 1953 Iran coup


An Iranian woman walks past a mural painting of a revolver on the walls of the former US embassy in Tehran during a protest marking the 27th anniversary of the seizure of the US diplomatic mission by Islamist students.

The CIA has publicly admitted that it organized the coup in Iran that ousted democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953.

While US officials have previously acknowledged that the United States played a role in overthrowing Mossadegh after he attempted to nationalize oil production in Iran, this is the first time the CIA has admitted responsibility for the coup in declassified documents.

"The military coup that overthrew Mossadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government," reads a document given to the independent National Security Archive research institute at George Washington University under the Freedom of Information Act and published Monday.

According to the documents obtained by the GW research group, the coup operation was codenamed TPAJAX and organized with help from Britain's MI6. (The UK government has never publicly admitted to having a role.)

"[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," coup planner Donald Wilber wrote in another document.

After the coup, pro-western Iranian leader Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi returned to Iran and ruled for 26 years, until he was toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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