Jimmy Byrnes had kept his eye on the oil fields of Iran as a critical area of postwar interest to the U. S. State Department and the U. S. military since the summer of 1943, when he was named the director of the Office of War Mobilization. Barely fifteen days into his new OWM position, Byrnes had hosted a meeting at his East Wing offices at the White House on June 12, 1943, with representatives from the Departments of State, War, Navy, and the Interior. Their subject was the alarming rate at which the U. S. domestic oil reserves were being consumed by this country's military needs and its lend-lease shipments of domestic oil to the Allies. The oil reserves of the United States would be seriously depleted by the end of the war unless a greater use was made of the Middle Eastern oil fields then under control of the British and Soviet governments, they agreed; in particular, "vigorous negotiations" should begin, as Byrnes later phrased it in his memorandum reporting to Roosevelt on this OWM meeting, "for acquisition by the United States government of a third interest in the Iranian oil fields owned by the Anglo-Iranian Company."
In making this recommendation, Byrnes was greatly influenced by Fred Searls, Jr., a geologist who advised various wartime agencies and whose