"Developments in the Azerbaijan Situation," Central Intelligence Group, Office of Reports and Estimates (ORE 19), secret, June 4, 1947
One of the first crises of the post-World War II period between the United States and Soviet Union centered around the northern Iranian province of Azerbaijan. Moscow’s refusal to withdraw its military forces after the war and its clandestine support for autonomy movements in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan rang alarm bells in Tehran as well as in Washington and London. By the end of 1946, however, the crisis had been resolved. Nonetheless, because of Azerbaijan’s (and Iran’s) strategic significance as a source of oil and a gateway to the Persian Gulf and other important regions, American officials still worried about the long-term fate of the province. This analysis, by the Central Intelligence Group (a precursor to the CIA), concludes firmly that the USSR "will not abandon its ultimate objective of controlling Azerbaijan, and eventually all of Iran."
This general feeling was already widely shared by U.S. officials, including President Truman, and had been an important ingredient in the development of the Truman Doctrine and the broader containment policy that prevailed throughout the coming Cold War. Yet, while Moscow’s aims were clearly a cause of concern for Iran and the West, documents beginning to surface from Soviet-era archives are showing that Stalin’s goals at the time were most likely limited primarily to getting a favorable oil concession from Iran, which would not only mitigate the USSR’s security and economic concerns but also satisfy the Soviet leader’s desire to be treated on a par with the other great powers, Britain and the United States.