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World > Middle East > Iran > Relations with U.S. (Notes)

Iran - Relations with U.S. (Notes)


U.S.-IRANIAN RELATIONS
On November 4, 1979, militant Iranian students occupied the American Embassy in Tehran with the support of Ayatollah Khomeini. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days. On April 7, 1980, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran, and on April 24, 1981, the Swiss Government assumed representation of U.S. interests in Tehran. Iranian interests in the United States are represented by the Government of Pakistan. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not have its own embassy in Washington, though it does have a permanent mission to the United Nations in New York City.


In accordance with the Algiers declaration of January 20, 1981, the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal (located in The Hague, Netherlands) was established for the purpose of handling claims of U.S. nationals against Iran and of Iranian nationals against the United States. U.S. contact with Iran through The Hague covers only legal matters.


The U.S. Government, by Executive Orders issued by the President as well as by Congressional legislation, prohibits most trade with Iran. Some sanctions were imposed on Iran because Tehran is a state sponsor of terrorism, others because of the nuclear proliferation issues, and still more for human rights violations, including infringement of religious freedom. The commercial relations that do exist between the two countries consist mainly of Iranian purchases of food and medical products and U.S. imports of carpets and food. Some sanctions were temporarily waived in the wake of the devastating Bam earthquake of December 2003. U.S. officials and relief workers actively assisted in relief and reconstruction efforts.


There are serious obstacles to improved relations between the two countries. As a state sponsor of terrorism, Iran remains an impediment to international efforts to locate and prosecute terrorists. Recent attempts by Iran to form loose alliances with anti-U.S. governments in the Western Hemisphere, such as the Venezuelan Government, has further heightened concern about Irans support for terrorism and nuclear ambitions. Operation Iraqi Freedom removed the Iranian Governments greatest security threat, but officially Iran remained neutral about U.S. policy, sometimes strongly condemning American policies and actions in Iraq. Iran has cultural ties to elements of the populations of both Iraq and Afghanistan. It has made some positive contributions to stability in both countries, but other actions have had the opposite effect. It remains to be seen whether Tehran will ultimately be a constructive force in the reconstruction of its two neighbors or not.


The U.S. Government defines its areas of objectionable Iranian behavior as the following:
Irans efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction; Its support for and involvement in international terrorism; Its support for violent opposition to the Middle East peace process, as well as its harmful activities particularly in Lebanon, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the region; and Its dismal human rights record and lack of respect for its own people. The United States has held discussions with Iranian representatives on particular issues of concern over the years. U.S. and Iranian envoys cooperated during operations to overthrow the Taliban in 2001 and during the Bonn Conference in 2002 that established a broad-based government for the Afghan people under President Karzai. The Secretary of State, her Iranian counterpart, and others met at talks on Iraq in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on May 3, 2007. The American and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq took part in face-to-face discussions in Baghdad, with Iraqi officials in attendance, on May 28, 2007. The United States believes, however, that normal relations are impossible until Irans policies change.


Nevertheless, the U.S. State Department is supporting efforts to further the cause of democracy in Iran. In fiscal year (FY) 2006, the U.S. Congress allocated approximately $66 million to promote free media, personal freedom, and a better understanding of western values and culture. As part of these efforts, the Department supports efforts to develop civil society in Iran and exchange programs that bring Iranian students, athletes, professionals and others to the United States.


The Secretary of State has stated that Iranian agreement to abide by UNSC Resolutions 1696 and 1747, calling for Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment and comply with its international nuclear obligations, could lead to the direct negotiations between American and Iranian government officials, not only on Irans nuclear case but on a wide range of issues.


In May 2007, the Iranian Government charged and in some cases imprisoned a handful of innocent Iranian-American scholars, civil society actors, and journalists, accused by the regime of jeopardizing the security of the state. The international community, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private citizens have joined the U.S. Government in calling for the release of the detained dual nationals, as well as Iranian cooperation in the case of missing retired FBI agent Robert Levinson, last reported on Kish Island, Iran, on March 8, 2007.


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Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
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People
Government
Economy
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Transportation
Military
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Current Time
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Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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