Tehran Conference Promotes Allied Cooperation in Iran

The World War II Allied Powers met in Tehran to formulate a strategy to defeat Nazi Germany. The United States and Great Britain agreed to launch an invasion through France in May, 1944, while the Soviet Union attacked Germany from the east. The Soviets agreed to join the war against Japan after Germany surrendered. The Allies also promised to respect Iran’s independence and to continue economic support for the Iranian government.

Summary of Event

The Tehran Conference during World War II was the first meeting of the Allied Powers at which the Big Three leaders were all present: Franklin D. Roosevelt, president of the United States of America; Joseph Stalin, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom. Although their primary concern was the defeat of Nazi Germany, each of the leaders had long-term national goals for the conference. World War II (1939-1945)[World War 02];Allied planning meetings
Tehran Conference (1943)
Tehran Declaration (1943)
[kw]Tehran Conference Promotes Allied Cooperation in Iran (Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 1943)
[kw]Conference Promotes Allied Cooperation in Iran, Tehran (Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 1943)
[kw]Allied Cooperation in Iran, Tehran Conference Promotes (Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 1943)
[kw]Iran, Tehran Conference Promotes Allied Cooperation in (Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 1943)
World War II (1939-1945)[World War 02];Allied planning meetings
Tehran Conference (1943)
Tehran Declaration (1943)
[g]Middle East;Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 1943: Tehran Conference Promotes Allied Cooperation in Iran[01010]
[g]Iran;Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 1943: Tehran Conference Promotes Allied Cooperation in Iran[01010]
[c]World War II;Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 1943: Tehran Conference Promotes Allied Cooperation in Iran[01010]
[c]Diplomacy and international relations;Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 1943: Tehran Conference Promotes Allied Cooperation in Iran[01010]
Roosevelt, Franklin D.
[p]Roosevelt, Franklin D.;World War II diplomacy[World War 02 diplomacy]
Churchill, Winston
[p]Churchill, Winston;World War II diplomacy[World War 02 diplomacy]
Stalin, Joseph
[p]Stalin, Joseph;World War II diplomacy[World War 02 diplomacy]

Stalin, made stronger by his recent victories against Germany, was intent on gaining territory and influence in Eastern Europe. Churchill, fearing that the Soviet Union intended to grab territory and power in postwar Europe, had arranged a pre-conference meeting with Roosevelt in Cairo to secure unity between the United States and Great Britain in dealing with Stalin. Churchill was disappointed in the Cairo Conference, because Roosevelt was not interested in the issue of Stalin’s plans but wanted to talk instead about postwar policies and the formation of the United Nations.

In fact, Roosevelt was hoping to meet privately with Stalin in Tehran to discuss the issue of global postwar political and economic stability. Roosevelt wanted to form a United Nations organization similar to the failed League of Nations, with the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China acting as the enforcers of international peace. Roosevelt was already in extremely poor health, however, and he arrived in Tehran on November 28, 1943, in a failing physical condition that weakened his bargaining capabilities. Stalin was in high spirits, bolstered by his recent victories against the Germans.

The first task for the United States and Great Britain was to secure the Soviet Union’s full cooperation with their war policies in order to defeat the Axis Powers. The primary issue was opening a second front in Western Europe, which Stalin had been urging ever since Germany had launched its surprise attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. Great Britain and the United States promised to begin the invasion in the spring of 1944, but Stalin wanted other concessions from Churchill and Roosevelt. Stalin exacted their agreement to support Stalin’s partisans in Yugoslavia with commando operations, supplies, and equipment.

An even more consequential agreement concerned the Soviet boundary with Poland after the war. Stalin demanded that the eastern part of Poland be added to the Soviet Union and that the border be lengthened elsewhere. Despite the protests of the Polish government-in-exile in London, Churchill and Roosevelt agreed. Poland’s postwar borders Poland;postwar borders were defined as lying along the Oder and Neisse Rivers and the Curzon line. They also agreed to allow Stalin to set up puppet communist governments in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, the Baltic States, and other Eastern European countries occupied by the Soviet military forces.

Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt next discussed strategies for Operation Overlord, a French invasion that would open a second front in Western Europe. Churchill argued against the plan, favoring a Mediterranean campaign instead, but his argument fell on deaf ears. Roosevelt assured Stalin that the invasion of Western Europe would take place in May, 1944, in conjunction with an invasion of southern France. The strength of the southern invasion would depend upon the availability of landing craft and personnel.

Stalin agreed that Soviet forces would launch an offensive at the same time in order to prevent the Germans from transferring forces from the eastern to the western front. Stalin requested additional troops in Western Europe, and it was agreed that these troops would arrive in the spring of 1944. It was further agreed that the Big Three powers would keep in close touch with one another regarding the impending military operations and that a cover plan would be developed to mislead the enemy as to when and where the invasion would occur.

Operation Overlord, or D day, as the invasion of Normandy in northern France was called, actually was launched on June 6, 1944. Stalin promised that once Germany was defeated, he would declare war against Japan. All three Allied leaders were adamant that the Axis Powers must accept unconditional terms of surrender, and that once defeated, the nations supporting the Axis Powers would be divided into territories to be controlled by the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain. The postwar occupation of Germany itself was discussed, but no decisions were taken as to the specifics of the reorganization of Germany’s government and economy.

The conference declarations included a commitment to form the United Nations assembly through the cooperation and active participation of democratic nations. Those nations were thought to be dedicated to world peace and the elimination of tyranny, oppression, and intolerance. All of these agreements were set forth in the Tehran Declaration of December 1, 1943. In a separate declaration, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill recognized the assistance of Iran in prosecuting the war and promised continued economic support for the government of Iran. In particular, it was acknowledged that Iran played an essential role in facilitating the transportation of supplies from overseas to the Soviet Union and that such support had created economic difficulties for Iran.

The invasion of the Soviet Union by Adolf Hitler in 1941 had placed Iran in a difficult position. The Allies had to travel across Iran to transport war materials to the Soviet Union quickly, and this would violate Iran’s declaration of neutrality at the outbreak of World War II. As a result, on August 26, 1941, Great Britain and the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Iran and began transporting munitions and other materials across the Middle Eastern nation. World War II (1939-1945)[World War 02];Middle Eastern campaign In January, 1942, Iran agreed to extend nonmilitary assistance to the Allies, and in turn the Allied Powers agreed to respect Iran’s territorial integrity and independence and to withdraw troops from Iran within six months after hostilities ceased.

In September, 1943, Iran declared war on Germany, thereby qualifying for United Nations membership. Therefore, at the Tehran Conference, the Big Three powers reaffirmed their commitment to respect Iran’s independence and territorial integrity. They also promised economic assistance to the government of Iran insofar as it was possible, taking into account the heavy demands of military operations on far-flung fronts and the worldwide shortages of transportation, raw materials, and supplies for civilian consumption. With reassurances of friendship, cooperation, and common objectives, the Big Three conference leaders issued their declarations and departed for their own countries to implement the agreed-upon war policies.


It has been suggested that whenever the Big Three powers—the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain—met in conference, the agreements reached by them inevitably affected the future of the world. This was certainly true of the Tehran Conference. At Tehran, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill reached agreements on immediate war policies for defeating Nazi Germany, the postwar reconfiguration of the map of Europe, and the general organization of the United Nations. Agreements on postwar realignments gave the Soviet Union a free hand in taking over the Eastern European nations after the defeat of Germany, thereby setting the stage for the Cold War. The Tehran Conference also anticipated another conference thirteen months later in Yalta, at which more specific discussions would be held concerning postwar European and world affairs. World War II (1939-1945)[World War 02];Allied planning meetings
Tehran Conference (1943)
Tehran Declaration (1943)

Further Reading

  • Gellman, Irwin F. Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull, and Sumner Welles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. Discusses competitive points of view among Roosevelt’s advisers.
  • Kimball, Warren F. The Juggler: Franklin Roosevelt as Wartime Statesman. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991. A candid evaluation of Roosevelt’s foreign diplomacy.
  • O’Neill, William L. World War II: A Student Companion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Useful overview of major events in World War II.
  • Perisco, Joseph E. Roosevelt’s Secret War. New York: Random House, 2001. Reveals Roosevelt’s tendency to keep secrets from Congress, the public, and foreign leaders.
  • Van Minnen, Cornelius A., and John F. Sears, eds. FDR and His Contemporaries: Foreign Perceptions of an American President. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Gives insights into how foreign governments and political leaders regarded Roosevelt.

World War II: European Theater

Germany Invades Russia

Soviets Take Control of Eastern Europe

Cairo Conference and Declaration Addresses War in the Pacific

Invasion of Normandy Begins the Liberation of Europe

Yalta Conference

United Nations Charter Convention