1. News & Issues

Timeline of U.S.-Iranian Relations

1953 to Present

By

Flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran

1953
The Coup

The government of Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mussadeq is overthrown in a coup orchestrated by American and British intelligence agencies. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is reinstated as the Shah of Iran.

1979
Khomeini Rises

Widespread unrest in Iran forces the Shah to flee. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, an Islamic religious leader returns to Iran from exile and takes power.

1979
Hostage Crisis Begins

Iranian students storm the United States embassy in Tehran and hold scores of hostages, most for 444 days. The United States cuts all diplomatic relations with Iran and imposes economic sanctions.

1980
Failed Rescue

The United States stages a doomed attempt to rescue the American hostages in Iran. Eight U.S. servicemen die.

1981
Freedom

The American hostages are released moments after Ronald Reagan succeeds Jimmy Carter as President of the United States.

1986
Iran-Contra

The public learns of an American effort to sell arms to Iran as a way of raising funds for anti-Communist fighters (known as Contras) in Nicaragua.

1988
Shot Down

The USS Vincennes mistakenly shoots down an Iran Air flight over the Persian Gulf killing 290 people.

1993
Dual Containment

The United States implements a policy toward Iran and Iraq known as "dual containment" in an effort to isolate both countries and contain their regional ambitions.

1997
Moderate Elected

Iran elects a new, more reform-minded president, Mohammad Khatami.

2002
"Axis of Evil"

U.S. President George W. Bush refers to Iran as part of an "Axis of Evil."

2002
Nuclear Fears

US alleges Iran is attempting to build nuclear weapons.

2003
Earthquake

An earthquake kills 50,000 people in the Iranian city of Bam. The United States provides direct aid to victims.

2005
Conservative Shift

Iran elects a new, more conservative president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

2005
"Outpost of Tyranny"

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice includes Iran in her list of "Outposts of Tyranny."

2005
Uranium Dispute

Iran resumes uranium conversion. The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

2006
The Letter

President Ahmadinejad sends a letter to President Bush calling for dialogue. No direct response is sent.

2006
Talks Resume?

The United States say it will join European nations in talks with Iran if Iran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment,

2007
Another Hostage Crisis?

Iran imprisons Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari.

2007
U.S. and Iran Talk

For the first time in 27 years, officials of Iran and the United States meet face-to-face for Memorial Day talks.

2007
Contradictory Claims

In September, Iran claims it has 3,000 centrifuges working on uranium enrichment just days after an International Atomic Energy Agency report put the number closer to 2,000.

2007
About Face

In December, a new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate surprisingly concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

2008
An Opening? The election of Barack Obama as president fuels speculation of an eventual diplomatic opening between the United States and iran.

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