Relations between the United States and Iran have been fraught for decades – at least since the U.S. helped overthrow a democracy-minded prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, in August 1953. The U.S. then supported the long, repressive reign of the shah of Iran, whose security services brutalized Iranian citizens for decades.
The two countries have been particularly hostile to each other since Iranian students took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979, resulting in, among other consequences, economic sanctions and the severing of formal diplomatic relations between the nations. Since 1984, the U.S. State Department has listed Iran as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” alleging the Iranian government provides terrorists with training, money and weapons.
Some of the major events in U.S.-Iran relations highlight the differences between the nations’ views, but others arguably presented real opportunities for reconciliation.
1953: US overthows Mossadegh