The US and Iran's Relationship

President Trump from the US and President Rouhani from Iran
Getty Images

The Story

The US and Iran have a long and complicated history of being on the rocks. Buckle up.

Give me the background.

Tensions between the US and Iran date back to 1953. That’s when the US and the UK helped pull off a coup against Iran’s prime minister, because of fears the country could fall to communism. The ouster put a pro-Western shah in power. After that, things calmed down for a while. But Iranians viewed this as the US inappropriately meddling in their politics. And eventually, the 1979 Islamic Revolution happened.

It’s been a minute since my last history class. Remind me.

Civilians were angry that the country was becoming more Western and revolted. The conflict led to the Iran hostage crisis – when US Embassy staff in Tehran were taken hostage for more than 400 days – and the country becoming an Islamic republic. This is also when it pressed pause on its nuclear program. Bottom line: after this, the US cut off diplomatic ties.

Drama, drama, drama.

Well said. Iran wound up restarting its nuclear program in the ‘80s during the Iran-Iraq war. And years of talks to get Iran to curb its program didn’t really stick...until the 2015 Iran nuclear deal between the US, Iran, and five other countries. The fine print: countries would lift heavy economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for it backing off of its nuclear program. Some saw it as a way of dodging a military conflict with Iran. Others saw it as the US being too lenient with a country that was once considered part of an “axis of evil.”

I remember. How’s that all going?

Depends who you ask. Last year, President Trump said he’s pulling the US out of the deal because it didn’t go far enough to stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Since then, his admin reimposed sanctions that have hit Iran’s economy hard. It also announced it’ll sanction countries that buy Iranian oil. And has labeled Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.

I'm sure Iran loved that. So what’s the latest?

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