US and Iran Relations

The history of tensions between the United States and Iran throughout the years.


Shealah Craighead

President Donald Trump signing documents to reimpose sanctions on Iran.

By Keely Telford, Staff Photographer

Tensions between the United States and Iran have been elevated ever since President Donald Trump killed Iran’s Military leader, General Qasem Soleimani. He was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Iraq. Iran and the U.S. have a long history of having conflicts with each other. Some of them date as far back as the 1950s.

In 1953 United States and British government agencies arranged for Iran’s Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadeq to be overthrown for trying to nationalize Iran’s oil industry.
On January 16, 1979, the Iranian Revolution forced Mohammed Reza Pahlevi to leave the country due to religious opponents having strikes against him. In November 1979, the United States embassy was taken over by protesters in Tehran. Iranians kept many American Hostages for 444 days then released the 52 in January 1981.

In 1985 the U.S. was accused of secretly shipping weapons to Tehran to help free the Hostages from Lebanon. In 1988, warship USS Vincennes shot down an Iran airplane, on the way to Mecca, that killed all 290 passengers. The U.S. had mistaken the plane for a fighter jet.

In 2002 President George Bush had declared Iran as a part of “an axis of evil”. Iran did not like this which increased the tension between the countries. A group of Iranian antagonists then said that Iran was making nuclear facilities with a uranium enrichment plant. Later the U.S. accused Iran of having secret nuclear weapons, but they denied it. The United Nations then kept a close eye on Iran for the next decade.

In 2015 Iran agreed to a nuclear deal that would be long term. The deal was with the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany. They agreed to limit nuclear activity and to meet with international inspectors.

In May 2018, President Trump ended the nuclear deal. Later he then put sanctions against Iran and said he’d do the same to those who kept buying their oil, and by May 2019, tensions got tighter since the U.S. tightened sanctions that were targeted to Iran’s oil exports.

In early June 2019, six oil tankers exploded in the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. accused Iran. Then on June 20th, 2019 Iranian forces shot down a military drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran and the United States then disagree about whose territory it was over. Iran then pulled back their commitment from the nuclear deal.