History of the U.S.-Iran relationship

History of the U.S.-Iran relationship

The relationship between the USA and Iran has been controversial since the beginning. It all started in 1953 when the USA-based agency Central intelligence agency (CIA) was involved in the overthrowing of the then Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, because of the fact that he was involved in the nationalization of Iran’s oil industry. The agency used different tactics like bribing the editors of the newspaper to plant the controversy. After that in 1979, a revolution started in Iran against the above act of CIA and the employees of the US embassy in Tehran were made hostages for almost a year. The hostages were released by Iran in 1981 when the tenure of Ronald Reagan started, though numerous efforts were made by the previous PM, but, unfortunately, they were not enough to release the hostages. Following the above incident in 1988, the US Navy ship shot down an Iranian passenger aircraft they resulted in 290 civil casualties.

This is from where the relationship took a really sharp turn and this it suffered for almost 15 years. In the term of George W. Bush also the relationship didn’t go quite well as he called Iran an “Axis of Evil” and showed the intention to start nuclear negotiations with Iran.

In Obama’s tenure initially, things remained the same, as the government put huge financial pressure on Iran. Many countries stopped buying oil from it, as a result of which the Iranian economy took a massive hit. In the tenure of Iranian President Hassan Ruhani, the Iran-Nuclear deal was decided. Which was put to the end by President Donald J. Trump in May 2018.

History of the U.S.-Iran relationship Patricio-Murphy / Shutterstock.com

The relationship in recent years


The year 2016 can be termed as a hope of light for the adverse relationship between the USA and Iran. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to call 2016 the best year for the US-Iran relationship. Because both the countries announced numerous prisoner swaps.

After the confirmation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the restriction of nuclear activities by Iran, the US lifted-offs the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.


Things happened in 2018, were quite literally the opposite of 2016. Trump’s government imposed huge sanctions on Iran. There was a package of economic penalties imposed on Iran which really hit the economy of Iran especially shipping and banking industry. Responding to the above threats President Hassan Ruhani said that the country will not tolerate this threatening attitude of the USA and further added to violate the sanctions. It was clear from the situation that the outcome of confrontation would be nuclear and the country will have to suffer a lot.


2019 can be seen as a continuation of the series of bad events happened in the relationship of USA and Iran in 2018. The senior officials in Tehran said that there are researches going on for the high-performance centrifuges to produce nuclear fuel and that Iran is planning to attack American troops in Iraq and Syria. Responding to the above threat the Pentagon sent an aircraft carrier carrying the air bombers towards the Persian Gulf in order to warn the Tehran. With that being said, the USA-Iran relationship once again experienced a bump since its property in Obama’s term. Despite the sanctions imposed by the USA, Iran can be seen trading the oil with countries like India and China.

Expert’s opinion on oil sanctions

In the adverse situation of USA-Iran relationships, experts are of the view that Iran should abide by the sanctions imposed by the USA. Since the consequences of disobedience could be lethal resulting in a nuclear war. Considering the fact that Iran is in the development stage of its nuclear weaponry it would be wise for Iran to abide by the sanctions. We have already seen the USA giving warnings to abide by the rules in terms of Persian-Gulf attacks in the above context.

The sole purpose of imposition of sanction is to make Iran economically weak. Because the sanction applies a ban on import of oil from Tehran on the USA and other countries like China and India. Though the decision may impose political pressure and threats on the Iranian government. But, the aftermath of this decision may not be commercially viable for the US government as well. As the sanction is imposed Experts anticipates that the petrol prices may experience a high. Since petrol prices are mostly dependent on the prices of Crude oil, the commercial unavailability of the oil will also result in the shortage of petroleum products.

Who is benefiting from the sanctions

The sole purpose of the imposition of the sanctions on Iran is to refrain it from carrying out any further development on the nuclear projects. The US government is using the sanction as a tool to protect its national sovereignty and dominance on other countries. If Iran gets successful in its nuclear projects it would become self-dependent and wouldn’t have to worry about meeting the global requirements imposed by the US. Therefore, we can assume that the party benefiting from the sanctions is none other than the US government itself. Although the US also has to pay price in terms of shortage and an increase in the price of petroleum products, but, keeping in mind the potential benefits from the sanctions this temporary price bump can be borne by the USA.

Iran’s attitude towards sanctions

We have already witnessed an aggressive approach of Iran towards handling the sanctions imposed by the USA, and why not? After all the US government has always played a diplomatic game against Iran. Iran, after the new trade sanctions, quoted that it would complete the part of the nuclear research project which was suspended due to the singing of treaty to remove trade sanctions with various countries. Furthermore, it can be anticipated from the general attitude of the Iranian government that they will also not abide by the new trade sanctions imposed by the US government. Additionally, the Iranian government stated that it would reduce minor and general commitments under the deal.

Options for further Development

The worse relationship between Iran and the USA needs further development to get better in term of quality. Following are some points to ensure further development:

  • Negotiations have resolved various critical matters. In the same sense, the US and the Iranian government should listen to each other’s stance and try to land on a compromise that may ensure an environment of peace.
  • The US government should revise its policies relating to the imposition of sanctions on the Iranian government to give a chance to them to stop the nuclear activities.
  • The US government also needs to understand the devastation it is causing to the economy of Iran and also need to change its policies with Iran.
  • The government of Iran should also have to understand about the declining economy and how it should definitely comprise its nuclear projects for the sake of saving the economy.

Global reaction on sanctions imposed by the USA on Iran

While both the countries have their own stance about the current situation, we have started to see global reaction about the situation. The Russian government is supporting Iran and says that it will help Iran to counter the US sanctions. Additionally, it also stated that it would go beyond any limits to save the 2015’s Iran nuclear deal and will also protect the shared economic interests with Tehran. The reaction of Russia on this hot topic can also be interpreted from a statement published on Russia’s foreign ministry website that reads “deeply disappointed by U.S. steps to re-impose its national sanctions against Iran.

History of the U.S.-Iran relationship Patricio-Murphy / Shutterstock.com

The reaction of other countries like France, UK and Germany are no other than Russia’s reaction. All the involved countries are regretting upon the sanctions imposed by the US government on Iran. They all agreed that Iran was keeping all its promises by not carrying out any nuclear research activity and therefore they cannot understand the logic behind the imposition of the sanctions.

Potential Threat for Iran: A conclusion

We have already discussed in detail about the bone of contention between Iran and the USA, and the global reaction regarding the issue. There are potential threats involve in the current scenario, especially for Iran. We are familiar with the trumps aggressive reaction on global issues. Since this sanction has also provoked the Iranian government to take stand against it by violating the trade sanctions, it can further ignite the situation leading the USA government to take strict action against Iran. Therefore, the ultimate threat lies for Iran. Now it is in the hands of the Iranian government, how it would deal with this issue.

Senior writer at the Chicago Morning Star

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