The Iran-US Relationship after the Hostage Crisis of 1979


After the Iranian revolution and hostage crisis in 1979, relations between the United States and Iran have been strained. Iran continues to be under U.S. unilateral sanctions. These sanctions were increased under President Bill Clinton. Although Iran has had a civilian nuclear program since before 1979, it has come under scrutiny in more recent years and is still a point of international concern among the United Nations and the United States. Additionally, there are ongoing tensions due to Iran’s relationship with groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Iran has been criticized for supporting terrorist groups, and in 1984, Iran was added to the U.S. list of state sponsors of international terrorism. This is still a source of friction between the two nations.

Iranian Nuclear Program

Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran is permitted the ongoing development of its civilian nuclear power program, which officially includes the enrichment of uranium. However, there have been numerous allegations that Iran is illicitly and covertly attempting to pursue a nuclear weapons program. This is explicitly forbidden under the NPT.

In 2006, the Iranian parliament passed a bill that obligated the government to “revise” its cooperation and working agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Previously, the IAEA had been responsible for inspecting Iran’s nuclear facilities. However, the bill granted then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government more authority and encouragement in resisting and rejecting the IAEA. This included ending the inspections of Iran’s atomic programs, which has served to further suspicions among international powers.

The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution in 2007 to establish stronger sanctions against Iran in response to the nuclear issue. Additionally, in 2007, Russia declared that the construction of a nuclear reactor would be delayed and that there may be “irreversible” damage to the project due to Iran’s lack of payments. Iran denied missing any payments, but the interruption still occurred. It’s reported that Russia’s unreliability has helped to reinforce Iran’s dedication to obtaining its own full nuclear capabilities.

Terrorist Concerns

It’s known that the Islamic Republic funds, arms, and actively supports terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Officially, the U.S. State Department has declared that this makes Iran an active sponsor of terrorism. Understandably, this has made Iran and United States relations tenuous at best. According to statements made by the State Department, Iran has ongoing relationships with these groups and continues to provide safe haven, training, weapons, funding, and other supplies. There are currently no formal, diplomatic relations established between the United States of American and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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