Iran–United States relations

Political relations between Iran and the United States began in the mid to late 1800s, but had little importance or controversy until the post-World War II era of the Cold War and of petroleum exports from the Persian Gulf. Since then they have seen a dramatic reversal from the close alliance between Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the American government, to the recent hostilities between the two countries following the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Early relations

Political relations between Persia and the United States began when the Shah of Persia, Nassereddin Shah Qajar, officially dispatched Persia's first ambassador, Mirza Abolhasan Shirazi (ميرزا ابولحسن شيرازی), to Washington D.C. in 1856."The Middle East and the United States: A Historical and Political Reassessment", David W. Lesch, 2003, ISBN 0813339405, p.52] In 1883, Samuel Benjamin was appointed by the United States as the first official diplomatic envoy to Iran. Ambassadorial relations were however established in 1944.

The first Persian Ambassador to The United States of America was Mirza Albohassan Khan Ilchi Kabir. Even before political relations, since the early to mid 1880s, Americans had been traveling to Iran. Justin Perkins and Asahel Grant were the first missionaries to be dispatched to Persia in 1834 via the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

The famous vizier of Nasereddin Shah, Amir Kabir, also initiated direct contacts with Washington. By the end of the 19th century, negotiations were underway for an American company to establish a railway system from the Persian Gulf to Tehran.

Up until World War II, relations between Iran and the United States remained cordial. As a result many Persian Constitutional Revolution constitutionalist Iranians came to view the U.S. as a "third force" in their struggle to break free of the humiliating British and Russian meddling and dominance in Persian affairs. It is even believed that such appointments were the result of contacts made by the Persian Constitutional revolutionaries with the executive branch of the US government, even though no official documents of such contacts exist. What is certain however is that Persia's drive for modernizing its economy and liberating it from British and Russian influences had the full support of American industrial and business leaders.



In 1909, during the Persian Constitutional Revolution, Howard Baskerville died in Tabriz while trying to help the constitutionalists in a battle against royalist forces. After the American financial consultant Morgan Shuster was appointed Treasurer General of Persia by the Iranian parliament in 1911, an American was killed in Tehran by henchmen thought to be affiliated with Russian or British interests. Shuster became even more active in supporting the Constitutional revolution of Persia financially. ["Ibid." p.83] When "Shu'a al-Saltaneh" (شعاع السلطنه), the Shah's brother who was aligned with the goals of Imperial Russia in Persia, was ordered by Iran's government to surrender his assets to it, Shuster was assigned this task, which he promptly moved to execute. Imperial Russia immediately landed troops in Bandar Anzali demanding a recourse and apology from the Persian government. Eventually, Iran's parliament in Tehran was shelled by General Liakhoff of Imperial Russia, and Morgan Shuster was forced to resign under tremendous British and Russian pressure. Shuster's book The Strangling of Persia is a recount of the details of these events, a harsh criticism of Britain and Imperial Russia.

It was the American embassy that first relayed to the Iran desk at the Foreign Office in London confirmation of the popular view that the British were involved in the 1921 coup that brought Reza Pahlavi to power. [Zirinsky M.P. "Imperial Power and dictatorship: Britain and the rise of Reza Shah 1921-1926". International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 24, 1992. p.646] [
*Foreign Office 371 16077 E2844 dated 8 June 1932.
*The Memoirs of Anthony Eden are also explicit about Britain's role in putting Reza Khan in power.
*Ansari, Ali M. "Modern Iran since 1921". Longman. 2003 ISBN 0-582-35685-7 p.26-31
] A British Embassy report from 1932 admits that the British put Reza Shah "on the throne". The United States was not an ally of Britain as far as Persia was concerned at that point in time.

Morgan Shuster was soon to be followed by Arthur Millspaugh, appointed as Treasurer General by Reza Shah Pahlavi, and Arthur Pope, who was a main driving force behind the "Persian Empire" revivalist policies of Reza Shah. But the friendly relations between the United States and Iran were about to change at the onset of the 1950s.

1953 Iranian coup d'état

According to New York Times corespondent Stephen Kinzer, until the outbreak of World War II, the United States had no active policy towards Iran. [Kinzer, Stephen, "All the Shah's Men : An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror", Stephen Kinzer, John Wiley and Sons, 2003, p.86] During the Cold War following World War II, America became deeply involved in Iranian affairs.

From 1952-53, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq who was appointed as Prime Minister by the Shah began a period of rapid power consolidation, centered on Mossadeq’s nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now British Petroleum.Established by the British in the early 20th century, Anglo-Iranian Oil Company shared profits (85% British-15% Iran), but the company withheld their financial records from the Iranian government. By 1951 Iranian support for nationalization of the AIOC was intense and the Iranian Parliament unanimously agreed to nationalize its holding of, what was at the time, the British Empire’s largest company.

The United States and Britain, through a now-admitted covert operation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) called Operation Ajax, conducted from the US Embassy in Tehran, helped organize a coup to overthrow Moussadeq. The operation failed and the Shah fled to Italy. After organizing protests against Mosaddeq, a second operation was successful and the Shah returned from his brief exile. During his reign, the Shah received significant American support, frequently making state visits to the White House and earning praise from numerous American Presidents. The Shah's close ties to Washington and his bold agenda of rapidly Westernizing Iran soon began to infuriate certain segments of the Iranian population, especially the hardline Islamic conservatives.

Cultural relations

Relations in the cultural sphere however remained cordial. Pahlavi University, Sharif University of Technology, and Isfahan University of Technology, three of Iran's top academic universities were all directly modeled on American institutions such as the University of Chicago, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania. [http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/intrntnl/country/mideast.html Trends by Region: MIDDLE EAST and Penn's Global Engagement, University of Pennsylvania Archives ] ] ["Exporting MIT". Stuart W. Leslie and Robert Kargon. "Osiris", volume 21 (2006), pages 110–130 Link: [http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?id=doi:10.1086/507138] ] The Shah in return was generous in awarding American universities with financial gifts. For example, the University of Southern California received a gift from the Shah in the form of an endowed chair of petroleum engineering, and a million dollar donation was given to the George Washington University to create an Iranian Studies program.

1977-1979: Carter administration

The administration of President Jimmy Carter in 1977 created a strain on relations between Iran and the United States. Carter, unlike previous American presidents, was outspoken about his criticism of the Shah's government and its human rights record. Carter pressured the Shah to relax restrictions upon freedom of speech and to allow more freedom for political dissidents. [http://www.unc.edu/depts/diplomat/archives_roll/2003_01-03/dauherty_shah/dauherty_shah.html Daugherty | Jimmy Carter and the 1979 Decision to Admit the Shah into the United States ] ]

However, Carter did not just criticize the Shah. On New Years Eve 1978 he angered some Iranians with a toast to the Shah in which he said:

'Under the Shah’s brilliant leadership Iran is an island of stability in one of the most troublesome regions of the world. There is no other state figure whom I could appreciate and like more.' [ [http://www.ca-c.org/journal/eng01_2000/15.papuashvili.shtml GEOPOLITICAL ASPECTS OF ISLAMIZATION, hosted by ca-c.org ] ]

Many politicians and political figures in the United States such as Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller vigorously opposed Carter's condemnations of the Imperial Iranian government, citing the importance of not weakening the Shah's position in both Iran and the region. As is well-known, American administrations previous to Carter had always pressured the Shah to remain steadfastly anti-communist and to aggressively prosecute Communists and Islamists who were increasingly moving closer together into an anti-Imperial alliance.

The Carter administration blocked exports of tear gas and rubber bullets to Iran, and was also implicated by some commentators in a scandal involving Jimmy Carter demanding financial favors from the Shah. Some also attributed these actions against the Shah to Carter's attempts to warm up to the Soviet Union. [ [http://cgi.stanford.edu/group/wais/cgi-bin/index.php?p=3901 World Association of International Studies » Blog Archive » Iran: Jimmy Carter’s Illegal Demands on Shah (Nushin Namazi, ex-Iran) ] ] [ [http://rescueattempt.tripod.com/id24.html Evidence Jimmy Carter abandoned the Shah ] ] Prior to the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Iran had one of the world's largest number of students residing in the United States.

The 1979 revolution

The 1979 Iranian Revolution, which ousted the pro-American Shah and replaced him with the anti-American Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, came as a complete surprise to the United States government, its State Department and intelligence services, which "consistently underestimated the magnitude and long-term impli­cations of this unrest". [ [http://www.iranica.com/newsite/index.isc?Article=http://www.iranica.com/newsite/articles/unicode/v5f3/v5f3a002.html CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (CIA) IN PERSIA.] ] Only six months before the revolution culminated, the CIA even pro­duced a report which stated that “Persia is not in a revolutionary or even a "prerevolutionary" situation” [U.S. House of Representatives, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Iran. Evaluation of U.S. Intelligence Performance Prior to November 1978. Staff Report, Washington, D.C., p. 7.]

A dispute between Iran and America, which arose shortly after the Islamic revolutionaries took power, involved the fate of the exiled Shah, who the Islamic revolutionaries wished to extradite and execute. The American administration under President Jimmy Carter refused to give the exiled Shah any further support and expressed no interest in attempting to return him to power. A significant embarrassment for Carter occurred when the Shah, as of that time suffering from cancer, requested entry into the United States for treatment. The American embassy in Tehran vigorously opposed the United States granting his request, as they were intent on stabilizing relations between the new interim revolutionary government of Iran and the United States.

Despite agreeing with the staff of the American embassy in disallowing the Shah's entry into the U.S., after pressure from Kissinger and Rockefeller, among other pro-Shah political figures, Carter reluctantly agreed, but the move was used by the Iranian revolutionaries' to justify their claims that the former monarch was an American puppet and led to the storming of the American embassy by radical students allied with the Khomeini faction.

The 1979 Iran hostage crisis

On November 4, 1979, the revolutionary group Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line, angered that the recently deposed Shah had been allowed into the United States for cancer treatment, occupied the American embassy in Tehran and took U.S. diplomats hostage. 52 U.S. diplomats were held hostage for 444 days.

In Iran, the incident was seen by many as a blow against U.S. influence in Iran and against the liberal-moderate interim government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan which opposed the hostage taking and resigned soon after. For the hostage takers and other Iranians, their action was connected to the 1953 U.S.-backed coup against the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Mosaddeq.

"You have no right to complain, because you took our whole country hostage in 1953.”
said one of the hostage takers to Bruce Laingen, chief U.S. diplomat in Iran at the time.Democracy Now, Marc. 3, 2008, http://www.democracynow.org/2008/3/3/stephen_kinzer_on_the_us_iranian] Some Iranians were concerned that the U.S. was plotting another coup against their country in 1979 from the American embassy and wanted to prevent it.

In the United States, the hostage-taking was widely seen as an outrage violating a centuries-old principle of international law granting diplomats immunity from arrest and diplomatic compounds sovereignty in the territory of the host country they occupy. ["Doing Satan's Work in Iran", "The New York Times", November 6, 1979 ]

The ordeal reached a climax when the United States military attempted a rescue operation, Operation Eagle Claw, on April 24 1980, which resulted in an aborted mission and the deaths of eight American military men.

The crisis ended with the signing of the Algiers Accords in Algeria on January 19 1981. On January 20, 1981, the date the treaty was signed, the hostages were released. The Iran-United States 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 crisis led to lasting economic and diplomatic damage. On April 7, 1980, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran, a break which has yet to be restored. On April 24, 1981, the Swiss Government assumed representation of U.S. interests in Tehran via an interests section. Iranian interests in the United States are represented by the [http://www.daftar.org Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy] in Washington, DC.

Economic consequences of the Iran hostage crisis

Before the Revolution with the Shah, the United States was Iran's foremost economic and military partner, thus participating greatly in the rapid modernization of its infrastructure and industry with as many as thirty thousand American expatriates residing in the country in a technical, consulting, or teaching capacity. A posteriori, some analysts argue that the transformation may have been too rapid, fueling unrest and discontent among an important part of the population in the country, which culminated with the revolution itself in 1979.

The issue of frozen Iranian assets is especially sensitive for the Iranian government. After the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran, the United States froze about $12 billion in Iranian assets, including bank deposits, gold and other properties. According to U.S. officials, most of those were released in 1981 as part of the deal for the return of U.S. hostages taken in the embassy seizure. But some assets--Iranian officials say $10 billion, U.S. officials say much less--remain frozen pending resolution of legal claims arising from the revolution.

Commercial relations between Iran and the United States are restricted by U.S. sanctions and consist mainly of Iranian purchases of food, spare parts, and medical products and U.S. purchases of carpets and food. Sanctions originally imposed in 1995 by President Clinton have been continually renewed by President Bush, citing the "unusual and extraordinary threat" to U.S. national security posed by Iran. The 1995 executive orders prohibit U.S. companies and their foreign subsidiaries from conducting business with Iran, while banning any "contract for the financing of the development of petroleum resources located in Iran." In addition, the U.S. [http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/iran/iran.shtml Iran-Libya Sanctions Act] (ILSA) of 1996 imposed mandatory and discretionary sanctions on non-U.S. companies investing more than $20 million annually in the Iranian oil and natural gas sectors.

The ILSA was renewed for five more years in 2001. Congressional bills signed in 2006 extended and added provisions to the act; on September 30, 2006, the act was renamed to the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), as it no longer applied to Libya, and extended until December 31, 2011.

1980s: Reagan administration

1983: Hezbollah bombings

The U.S. contends that the organization of Hezbollah has been involved in several anti-American terrorist attacks, including the April 1983 United States Embassy bombing which killed 17 Americans, the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing which killed 241 U.S. peace keepers in Lebanon, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing.

A U.S. District court judge ruled in 2003 that the April 1983 United States Embassy bombing was by what had been at the time a new organization called Hezbollah supported by the state of Iran. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_1983_United_States_Embassy_bombing#_note-0]

In May 2003, in a case brought by the families of the 241 servicemen who were killed, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth declared that the Islamic Republic of Iran was responsible for the 1983 attack. Lamberth concluded that Hezbollah was formed under the auspices of the Iranian government, was completely reliant on Iran in 1983, and assisted Iranian Ministry of Information and Security agents in carrying out the operation. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Beirut_barracks_bombing#_note-6]

A U.S. federal court has found that the Khobar Towers bombing was authorized by Ali Khomeini, then ayatollah of Iran [http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/opinions/2006/2000CV2329-12036-12222006a.pdf]

Iran-Contra Affair

In 1986 members of the Reagan administration helped sell weapons to Iran, using the profits to fund Contras militants in Nicaragua.cite web
url=http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/111386c.htm
title=Address to the Nation on the Iran Arms and Contra Aid Controversy
author=Ronald Reagan
publisher=Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, National Archives and RecordsAdministration
date=November 13, 1986
accessmonthday = September 3
accessyear=2006
] This event led to the Iran-Contra Affair which was a political scandal occurring in 1987 as a result of earlier events during the Reagan administration in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran, an avowed enemy, and illegally used the profits to continue funding anti-Communist rebels, the Contras, in Nicaragua. [cite web
last=Hart
first=Robert
authorlink=Robert Hart
title=NYT's apologies miss the point
publisher=Consortium News
date=2004-06-02
url=http://www.consortiumnews.com/2004/060204.html
] Large volumes of documents relating to the scandal were destroyed or withheld from investigators by Reagan administration officials.cite web
last=
first=
authorlink=
title=Excerpts From the Iran-Contra Report: A Secret Foreign Policy
work=
publisher=New York Times
year=1994
url=http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/06/29/reviews/iran-transcript.html
] [*cite web
last=Rockwell
first=Kara
authorlink=Kara Rockwell
coauthors=
title=A tale of three countries: The Iran-Contra affair
publisher=AnswerPoint.org (Central Rappahannock Regional Library)
date=2005-03-10
url=http://www.answerpoint.org/columns2.asp?column_id=1165&column_type=feature
] The affair is still shrouded in secrecy. After the arms sales were revealed in November 1986, President Ronald Reagan appeared on national television and denied that they had occurred.*cite web
last=Wolf
first=Julie
authorlink=Julie Wolf
title=The Iran-Contra affair
work=The American Experience: Reagan
publisher=PBS / WGBH
date=2000
url=http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reagan/peopleevents/pande08.html
] A week later, however, on November 13, Reagan returned to the airwaves to affirm that weapons were indeed transferred to Iran. He denied that they were part of an exchange for hostages.cite web
last=Reagan
first=Ronald
authorlink=Ronald Reagan
title=Address to the nation on the Iran arms and Contra aid controversy
publisher=Ronald Reagan Presidential Library / National Archives and Records Administration
date=1986-12-13
url=http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1986/111386c.htm
]

1988: Iran Air Flight 655 tragedy

On July 3, 1988 towards the end of the Iran–Iraq War, the U.S. Navy guided missile cruiser USS "Vincennes" shot down an Iranian Airbus A300B2 on a scheduled commercial flight in Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, killing 290 civilians from six nations, including 66 children. USS "Vincennes" was in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Earnest Will. The United States at first contended that flight 655 was a warplane and then said that it was outside the civilian air corridor and did not respond to radio calls. Both statements were untrue, and the radio calls were made on military frequencies to which the airliner did not have access. [Washington Post, January 11, 2008, "Iranian Boats May Not Have Made Radio Threat, Pentagon Says," http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/10/AR2008011000692_2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2008011001831 ] On February 22, 1996 the United States paid Iran $61.8 million in compensation for the 248 Iranians killed, plus the cost of the aircraft and legal expenses. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/july/3/newsid_4678000/4678707.stm 1988: US warship shoots down Iranian airliner] ] However, the United States has expressed regret only for the loss of innocent life, refusing to make a specific apology to the Iranian government. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=5bGozw-D28gC&pg=PA142&lpg=PA142&dq=uss+vincennes+iran+apology&source=web&ots=NbiN1x6s0T&sig=x9teZNysssdnftGyLciLUff0F1U The Iran–Iraq War: The Politics of Aggression By Farhang Rajaee] University Press of Florida ]

1990s: Clinton administration

In April 1995 a total embargo on dealings with Iran by U.S. companies was imposed by U.S. president Clinton. Trade with the U.S., which had been growing following the end of the Iran–Iraq War ended abruptly. [Keddie, "Modern Iran" (2003), p.265] The next year the American Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions act which threatened even non-U.S. countries making large investments in energy. The act was denounced by the European Union as null and void, but blocked some investment for Iran nonetheless.

Khatami and Iranian reformers

The election of reformist president Khatami brought hopes for a thawing of relations. In January 1998 Khatami called for a "dialogue of civilizations" with US in a CNN interview, contrasting Huntington's famous essay 'Clash of Civilizations'. In the interview, Khatami invoked Alexis de Tocqueville's 'Democracy in America' to explain the similarities between American and Iranian quests for freedom. US Secretary of state Madeleine Albright answered with conciliatory words and there followed an exchange of wrestling teams, freer travel to and from the US, and an end to the U.S. embargo of two Iranian export items, carpets and pistachios. Relations did not improve further though, as Iran's conservatives opposed them in principle and the U.S. preconditions for discussions included changes in Iranian policy on Israel, nuclear energy, and support for terrorism. [Keddie, "Modern Iran", (2003) p.272]

Inter-Parliamentary (Congress-to-Majlis) informal talks

On August 31, 2000, four United States Congress members: Senator Arlen Specter (R), Representative Bob Ney (R), Representative Gary Ackerman (D), and Representative Eliot L. Engel (D) met in New York City with Mehdi Karroubi, speaker of the Majlis of Iran (Iranian parliament), Maurice Motamed, a Jewish member of the Iranian Majlis, and three other Iranian parliamentarians for informal talks about various issues, taking advantage of a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. [cite news |first=Barbara |last=Crossette |title=For Iran's Visiting Legislators, A Useful, Low-Key Exchange |date=September 1, 2000|publisher=New York Times |url=http://www.american-iranian.org/aicinthenews/For%20Iran's%20Visiting.pdf
accessdate=2006-06-16|format=PDF
]

2001-2004

Divide between Iranian public opinion and state policy

Although anti-American billboards can be found in Iran and the slogan "death to America" is heard in Friday prayers, some have noted that Iran "just might" have the "least anti-American populace in the Muslim world" [Karim Sajadpour, Tehran-based analyst of the International Crisis Group, quoted by Afshin Molavi in "The Soul of Iran", (2005), p.334]

Following the 9/11 Attack some Iranians spontaneously gathered in the Maidan-e-Mohseni shopping area in northern Tehran in a candlelit vigil for the victims of the attack. However, these vigils were violently broken up by Ansar-e-Hezbollah hardliners. [Molavi, Afshin, "The Soul of Iran", Norton, 2005, p.226]

An opinion poll in 2003 asking Iranians if they supported resuming government dialogue with the United States found 75% in favor. The pollsters were jailed, [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-05-11-iran-usat_x.htm Iran U.S., holding talks in Geneva] USA Today, 5/11/2003] at least one of them spending several years in prison for his indiscretion. [ [http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/hostage_3009.jsp Iran: an afternoon with a hostage-taker] ]

Concerns of Iranian and US governments

Obstacles to "resumption of relations" between the two countries from the U.S. perspective noted by Jahangir Amuzegaran, U.S. based international economic consultant and former Finance Minister and Economic Ambassador in Iran's pre-1979 government [ [http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20030101faessay10221/jahangir-amuzegar/iran-s-crumbling-revolution.html Iran's Crumbling Revolution.] Jahangir Amuzegar. "Foreign Affairs". New York: Jan/February 2003.Vol.82, Iss. 1] were
* State sponsorship of international terrorism [http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2005/64337.htm U.S. State Department Country Reports on Terrorism of April 28, 2006] ]
* Pursuit of weapons of mass destruction
* Threats to neighbors in the Persian Gulf,
* Repeated statements by the Iran's highest government officials that they wish "Death to America" and to "wipe Israel off the map".
* Opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace process
* Violations of human rights ["Iran's Crumbling Revolution"Jahangir Amuzegar. "Foreign Affairs". New York: Jan/February 2003.Vol.82, Iss. 1; pg. 1] Jahangir Amuzegaran noted that "in recent years, the last two issues seem to have lost some of their potency and are now only infrequently raised. On the other hand, a new accusation of Iran's harboring of al Qaeda operatives has recently been added to the list."

On Iran's side, its original post-revolutionary list of demands included:
* That the United States accept the legitimacy of the 1979 revolution,
* Not interfere in Iran's internal affairs,
* Deal with the Iranian regime on the basis of "respect and equality."

Subsequent demands by Iran noted by Jahangir Amuzegaran were:
* Lifting U.S. economic sanctions,
* Release of frozen Iranian assets in the United States
* End to U.S. military presence in the neighboring countries of Iraq and Afghanistan
* Removal of the U.S. Navy from the Persian Gulf
* An end to preceived one-sided support for Israel
* A formal apology for intervention in Iran, including the CIA-backed overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in the 1950s. ["Iran's Crumbling Revolution"Jahangir Amuzegar. "Foreign Affairs". New York: Jan/February 2003.Vol.82, Iss. 1; pg. 1] and reparation for:
* U.S. companies' assistance in developing Iraq's chemical weapons facilities during the Iran-Iraq war;Fact|date=September 2008
* U.S. Support for anti-Iranian organizations (i.e. the MKO); [ [http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2005/65275.htm The United States denies supporting these groups, and calls Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) a terrorist group] ]
* USS "Vincennes" shooting down Iran Air Flight 655 with many civilian fatalities;
* Economic damage caused by U.S. sanctions and political pressure;
* U.S. UAV overflights over Iran violating Iranian airspace since 2003.
* Its human rights record.

Bush administration, first term

"Axis of evil" speech

On January 29, 2002 U.S. President George W. Bush gave his "Axis of evil" speech, describing Iran, along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, as an axis of evil and warning that the proliferation of long-range missiles developed by these countries was of great danger to the US and that it constituted terrorism. The speech caused outrage in Iran and was condemned by reformists and conservatives alike. [news.bbc.co.uk]

Since 2003 the U.S. has been flying unmanned aerial vehicles, launched from Iraq, over Iran to obtain intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, reportedly providing little new information [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19820-2005Feb12.html] . The Iranian government has formally protested the incursions as illegal [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/07/AR2005110701450.html] .

In January 2006, James Risen, a "New York Times" reporter, alleged in his book "State of War" that the CIA carried out a Clinton approved operation in 2000 (Operation Merlin) intended to delay Iran's nuclear energy program by feeding it flawed blueprints missing key components - which backfired and may actually have aided Iran, as the flaw was likely detected and corrected by a former Soviet nuclear scientist who headed the operation to make the delivery.

"Grand Bargain" proposal

In 2003, before invading Iraq, the Bush administration reportedly received a fax from the Iranian government, containing overtures to the United States. With the help of the American Iranian Council, Iran purportedly made a secret proposal for a "grand bargain", which would have resolved outstanding issues between the U.S. and Iran, including Iran's support for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and its nuclear program. [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/showdown/themes/grandbargain.html "Grand Bargain" Fax: A Missed Opportunity?] (see PBS Frontline Documentary showing on October 23, 2007)] The document came shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Bush administration officials, including Richard Armitage, thought the Khatami government and the Swiss ambassador in Tehran were "promising more than it could deliver". Others, such as Vali Nasr and Gary Sick consider it a missed opportunity. [ [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/showdown/themes/grandbargain.html "Grand Bargain" Fax: A Missed Opportunity?] (see PBS Frontline Documentary showing on October 23, 2007)] The fax never received a reply and there continued to be no official relations between the two countries. [Democracy Now, Sept. 25, 2007, interview with author Dr. Trita Parsi, http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/25/142247; "Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States" by Trita Parsi, PhD (Yale University Press, 2007) ] According to Trita Parsi, author of "Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States," ["Treacherous Alliance", (Yale University Press, 2007)] Lawrence Wilkerson, former secretary of state Colin Powell's chief of staff, told him "it was Cheney and Rumsfeld who made sure that Washington dismissed Iran's May 2003 offer to open up its nuclear program, rein in Hezbollah and cooperate against al-Qaeda." [ [http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HK11Ak04.html Asia Times, "Iran the key in US change on Iraq" By Trita Parsi] ]

2003: Border incursions begin

Several claims have been made that the US has violated Iranian territorial sovereignty since 2003, including the flying of drones, [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19820-2005Feb12.html U.S. Uses Drones to Probe Iran For Arms] , February 13, 2005, "Washington Post"] [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/07/AR2005110701450.html Iran Protests U.S. Aerial Drones] , November 8, 2005, Washington Post] [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?itemid=8126 The US war with Iran has already begun] , June 21, 2005, Scott Ritter] sending US soldiers into Iranian territory, and the use of former or current members of the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK or MKO) [http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/US_outsourcing_special_operations_intelligence_gathering_0413.html On Cheney, Rumsfeld order, US outsourcing special ops, intelligence to Iraq terror group, intelligence officials say] , by Larisa Alexandrovna, April 13, 2006, The Raw Story] and the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK) [http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=42505 Kucinich Questions The President On US Trained Insurgents In Iran: Sends Letter To President Bush] , Dennis Kucinich, April 18, 2006] to carry out provocations such as bombings on Iranian territory in order to provoke pre-existing ethnic tensions.

Since 2003 the U.S. has been flying unmanned aerial vehicles, launched from Iraq, over Iran to obtain intelligence on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, reportedly providing little new information. The Iranian government has formally protested the incursions as illegal. A U.S. RQ-7 Shadow and a Hermes UAV have crashed in Iran. In June 2005, Scott Ritter claimed that US attacks on Iran had already begun, including US overflights of Iran "using pilotless drones". Seymour Hersh has also stated that the US has also been penetrating eastern Iran from Afghanistan in a hunt for underground [nuclear weapons development] installations.

2005-2008: Bush administration, second term

In September 2005, U.S. State Department allegedly refused to issue visas for Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Mousa Qorbani, and a group of senior Iranian officials to travel to US to participate in an International parliamentary meeting held by the United Nations. According to UN rules, US has to grant visas to the senior officials from any UN member states, irrespective of their political views, to take part in UN meetings. Fact|date=February 2007

An American journalist, Seymour Hersh, claimed in January 2005 that U.S. Central Command had been asked to revise the military's war plan, providing for a maximum ground and air invasion of Iran and that the "hawks" in the U.S. government believed the EU3 negotiations would not succeed, and the Administration will act after this became clear. A former high-level intelligence official told him "It's not if we're going to do anything against Iran. They're doing it."http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?050124fa_fact]

Scott Ritter, former UN weapons of mass destruction inspector in Iraq, 1991–1998, claimed in April 2005 that the Pentagon was told in June 2005 to be prepared to launch a massive aerial attack against Iran in order to destroy the Iranian nuclear program. He claimed in June 2005 that the US military was preparing a "massive military presence" in Azerbaijan that would foretell a major land-based campaign designed to capture Tehran. He also claimed that the US attack on Iran had "already begun" (see below). [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?itemid=7560 Sleepwalking To Disaster In Iran] , April 1, 2005, Scott Ritter]

In his article published March 27, 2006, Joseph Cirincione, director for non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, claimed that "some senior officials have already made up their minds: They want to hit Iran." and that there "may be a coordinated campaign to prepare for a military strike on Iran." [http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3416 Fool Me Twice] , March 27, 2006, Joseph Cirincione, Foreign Policy]

Professor at the University of San Francisco and Middle East editor for the Foreign Policy in Focus Project, Stephen Zunes, also claims that a military attack on Iran is being planned. [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=10194 The United States, Israel, and the Possible Attack on Iran] , Stephen Zunes, May 2, 2006, ZNet]

President George W. Bush insisted on August 31 2006 that "there must be consequences" for Iran's defiance of demands that it stop enriching uranium. He said "the world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran." [http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/08/31/iran.deadline/index.html Bush: Iran's defiance will bring 'consequences'] , August 31, 2006, CNN]

In early April 2007, Michael T. Klare claimed that President Bush had already taken the decision to attack Iran. He said that references to Iran by U.S. president George W. Bush in major televised speeches on January 10, January 23 and February 14, 2007 establish that President Bush "has already decided an attack is his only option and the rest is a charade he must go through to satisfy his European allies". Klare claims that in these speeches in particular, President Bush has developed a casus belli in order to prepare public opinion for an attack, focused on three reasons: claims that Iran supports attacks on US troops in Iraq, claims that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, and claims that Iran could become a dominant power in the region and destabilise pro-US governments in Israel, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and thereby endanger oil supplies.cite news |first=Michael T. |last=Klare |pages= |language= |title=Bush's Future Iran War Speech: Three Charges in the Case for War |date= |publisher=Nation Institute |url=http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=169271 |accessdate=2007-04-09]

U.S. military revises plans

In March 2005. the U.S. revised its doctrine on when to use nuclear weapons to include preemptive or possibly preventive use on non-nuclear states.Fact|date=March 2008

In August 2005, Philip Giraldi, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, claimed that US Vice President Dick Cheney had instructed STRATCOM to prepare "a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States... [including] a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons... not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States." The reason cited for the attack to use mini-nukes is that the targets are "hardened or are deep underground" and would not be destroyed by non-nuclear warheads. [http://www.amconmag.com/2005_08_01/article3.html Deep Background] , August 1, 2005, Philip Giraldi, The American Conservative]

Claims that the US plans to use nuclear weapons in an attack on Iran have also been made in 2005 and 2006 by Jorge Hirsch, [http://www.antiwar.com/orig/hirsch.php?articleid=8007 A 'Legal' US Nuclear Attack Against Iran] , Jorge Hirsch, November 12, 2005] [http://www.antiwar.com/orig/hirsch.php?articleid=8577 America and Iran: At the Brink of the Abyss] ,Jorge Hirsch, February 20, 2006] in January 2006 by Michel Chossudovsky, [http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=%20CH20060103&articleId=1714 Nuclear War Against Iran] , Michel Chossudovsky, January 3, 2006] and by the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran [http://www.campaigniran.org Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention on Iran] ] and in April 2006 by Seymour M. Hersh. [http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060417fa_fact The Iran plans] , Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker Mag., April 8, 2006]

On April 18, 2006, on C-SPAN, in response to a journalist's questioning, "Sir, when you talk about Iran, and you talk about, how you have to have diplomatic efforts, you often say all options are on the table. Does that include, the possibility of a nuclear strike, is that something that your administration has plans about?", US president George W. Bush replied "All options are on the table".http://www.geocities.com/jorgehirsch/nuclear/bushoptions.mov, C-SPAN interview archived by Jorge E. Hirsch]

Iran's nuclear program

Since 2003, the United States has alleged that Iran has a program to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is aimed only at generating electricity. The United States' official position on Iran is that "a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable" and that "all options" - including the unilateral use of force and first-strike nuclear weapons - are "on the table"; [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?itemid=7784 Blair's Next War] , May 4, 2005, Dave Wearing] however, they have denied that the United States is preparing for an imminent strike. This came while three European countries, the United Kingdom (UK), France and Germany (the "EU-3") attempted to negotiate a cessation of nuclear enrichment activities by Iran, which America claims are aimed at producing nuclear weapons. [http://usinfo.state.gov/is/Archive/2006/Mar/24-427575.html]

In June 2005, the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Mohamed ElBaradei should either "toughen his stance on Iran" or fail to be chosen for a third term as IAEA head. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4075496.stm US agrees to back UN nuclear head] , June 9, 2005, BBC] Both the United States and Iran are parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The United States (and other official nuclear weapons states) were alleged during the May 2005 month-long meeting on the NPT to be in violation of the NPT through Article VI, which requires them to disarm, which as of 2006 they have not done, while the IAEA has stated that Iran is in violation of a Safeguards Agreement related to the NPT, due to insufficient reporting of nuclear material, its processing and its use. [http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Documents/Board/2005/gov2005-77.pdf Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Resolution adopted on 24 September 2005] , IAEA] Under Article IV, the treaty gives non-nuclear states the right to develop civilian nuclear energy programs. [http://www.un.org/events/npt2005/ Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) ] ]

From 2003 to early 2006, tensions between the US and Iran have successively mounted even while International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of sensitive nuclear industry sites in Iran have continued, in line with an Additional Protocol to the NPT which Iran voluntarily adhered to.

On March 8, 2006, US and EU-3 representatives noted that Iran has enough unenriched uranium hexafluoride gas to make up to ten atomic bombs if it were to be highly enriched, and adding it was "time for the Security Council to act". [http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,1726729,00.html US demands drastic action as Iran nuclear row escalates] , Ian Traynor, The Guardian, March 9, 2006] The unenriched uranium cannot be used either in the Bushehr reactor, which is a pressurized water reactor, nor in atomic bombs, unless it becomes enriched.

The United States predicted a quick vote on a third resolution imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program as it begins to build a case against Iran's central bank for proliferation activities on February 25 2008. [http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/02/25/iran.us/index.html U.S. predicts quick vote on Iran sanctions] ]

The role of petroleum

Escalating tensions between the United States and Iran have been attributed to the evolving state of energy geopolitics, and the future of energy security for much of the Western world. This includes ultimate control over the Straits of Hormuz, through which tankers ferry close to 40 percent of the world's daily oil needs. [http://www.maavak.net/maavak/maavak052.html Beware the Ides of March] , February 7, 2006, Mathew Maavak, "Panoptic World"]

An armed confrontation between the United States and Iran, and an Israeli entry into such a conflict, may embroil the entire region in a state of war, possible leading to new nation-states carved along ethno-religious lines. This may ensure stable oil supplies in the future and prevent a hyperextension of the ongoing ethno-religious strife in Iraq. [http://www.maavak.net/maavak/maavak072.html Gaming for the Fiery Tomorrow] , February 7, 2007, Mathew Maavak, Panoptic World]

Also, Iran has announced plans to create a new International Oil futures exchange, possibly called the Iranian Oil Bourse, trading oil priced in euros and possibly other currencies, rather than dollars, as used by other oil markets. Some fear that this would have significant negative impact on the strength of the US Dollar on international currency markets. The opening of the exchange had been planned for March 20, 2006, but has been delayed. [http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HC22Ak01.html A frenzied Persian new year] , March 22, 2006, Asia Times]

Domestic politics in Iran

Remarks made by conservative Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was elected in 2005, have been interpreted by analysts such as Ali Ansari as having national electoral aims internally in Iran, [http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,390338,00.html Denying the Holocaust for Political Advantage?] , Michael Scott Moore, "Der Spiegel", December 14, 2005] and by others such as the Israeli government as constituting threats to attack Israel. [http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1760728,00.html Iran biggest threat since Nazis, says Israel as Ahmadinejad provokes new outrage] , Conal Urquhart, Ian Traynor, the Guardian, April 25, 2006]

In October 2005, he made remarks to domestic audiences agreeing with Ayatollah Khomeini's statement that "the occupying regime in Palestine should vanish from the page of time", citing in his speech that the regime of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Soviet Union as a state and Saddam Hussein's government of Iraq, had similarly been removed from power.Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and U.S. scholar Juan Cole claim that the remarks have been mistranslated and misinterpreted by the Western media. Ahmadinejad also made remarks on December 8 2005, doubting the Holocaust.

These controversial remarks are generally considered to be in line with his populist voting base - 19% of voters chose him in the first round of the 2005 presidential election.

Seema Mustafa in the "Asian Age" claimed that Ahmadinejad's remarks relating to Israel and the Holocaust are now used as a major reason for an attack against Iran, stating that::"A campaign to demonise Ahmadinejad to rally around international opinion against Iran has been very effectively unleashed. He has, in fact, been carefully inducted as a key component in the propaganda war against Iran...."and that this argument was presented to journalists in Delhi by German-French-UK representative Dr Michael Schaefer and US undersecretary Nicholas Burns when they were requesting Indian representative to accept IAEA referral of Iran to the UN Security Council. [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?itemid=9573 Our Bomb, Your Bomb: On India, Iran, and the Nuclear Bomb] , January 22, 2006, Seema Mustafa, Asian Age]

Bush's "wave of democracy"

In political speeches following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, George W. Bush has claimed (after weapons of mass destruction could not be found) that his administration's goal in the invasion was to bring democracy to countries in the Middle East and to oppose "islamofascism".The anti-Iraq War World Tribunal on Iraq and others have doubted the sincerity of this motive, pointing to a List of killed, threatened or kidnapped Iraqi academics systematic campaign against academia in Iraq during the US occupation of Iraq. Robert Dreyfuss, author of "", claims that the US actions in the region have in fact "supported", and are continuing to support, "islamofascism" rather than oppose it. [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?itemid=9222 Political Islam vs. Democracy: The Bush Administration's Deadly Waltz with Shiite Theocrats in Iraq and Muslim Brotherhood Fanatics in Syria, Egypt, and Elsewhere] , November 29, 2005, Robert Dreyfuss]

Iran fears of attack by the US

Paul Pillar, former CIA official who led the preparation of all National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on Iran from 2000 to 2005 in his role as national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, told the InterPress Service that all of the NIEs on Iran during that period

"addressed the Iranian fears of U.S. attack explicitly and related their desire for nuclear weapons to those fears" and stated "Iranian perceptions of threat, especially from the United States and Israel, were not the only factor, but were in our judgment part of what drove whatever effort they were making to build nuclear weapons."
Another former CIA official, Ellen Laipson, said that "the Iranian fear of an attack by the United States has long been 'a standard element' in NIEs on Iran." [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=67&ItemID=9700 Fear of U.S. Drove Iran's Nuclear Policy] , Gareth Porter, February 10, 2006, InterPress Service] In 2005, the United States passed the Iran Freedom and Support Act, which appropriated millions of dollars for human rights NGOs working in that country. Several politicians in both countries have claimed the Act is a "stepping stone to war," [http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=42687 Kucinich Speaks Out Against House Bill That Lays The Ground Work For War Against Iran] ] although the Act contains a specific prohibition on the use of force towards Iran.

Domestic politics in the U.S.

Within the United States, the now-unpopular war in Iraq [http://www.pollingreport.com/iraq.html PollingReport.com on Iraq] ] has taken a toll on the willingness of the American public to accept another war. A CBS poll taken in June 2006 showed that only 21 percent of Americans supported military action against Iran. Fifty-five percent favored diplomacy and 19 percent said Iran was not a threat to the United States. [http://www.pollingreport.com/iran.htm PollingReport.com on Iran] ]

Some groups have begun organizing sentiment in opposition to an attack on Iran. [http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/justforeignpolicy.org/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=361 Active Petition against War with Iran Hosted by Just Foreign Policy and Peace Action] ] This pressure to rule out a military attack on Iran may have an impact on the actions that the United States government will be willing to take with regard to Iran.

Calls for diplomacy

In May 2007, Iran's top diplomat Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki declared that Iran is "ready to talk" to the United States. There is significant work to be done before the United States will drop a 28 year old freeze on diplomatic relations, but the comments mark the furthest diplomatic advance made by Iran in recent memory. [http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1617886,00.html Interview: 'We are Ready to Talk' - TIME ] ]

U.S. military operations inside Iran

Scott Ritter has stated that CIA-backed bombings had been undertaken in Iran by the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK or MKO), an opposition group listed by the United States Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. In April 2006, "The Raw Story" cited an unnamed UN source "close to" the United Nations Security Council stating that former MEK members had been used as a proxy by the US for "roughly a year" inside of Iranian territory. An intelligence source quoted by "The Raw Story" said that the former MEK members were made to "swear an oath to Democracy and resign from the MEK" before being incorporated into US military units and retrained for their operations in Iran.

Following the killing of 24 Iranian security forces in Iran in March 2006 by the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK), an opposition group closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is listed by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, Dennis Kucinich claimed in a letter to George W. Bush on April 18, 2006, that PEJAK is being supported and coordinated by the US, since it is based in Iraq, which is under the de facto control of US military forces. In November 2006, journalist Seymour Hersh in "The New Yorker" supported this claim, stating that the US military and the Israelis are giving the group equipment, training, and targeting information in order to create internal pressures in Iran.cite news |first=Seymour M. |last=Hersh |pages= |title=The Next Act |date=November 20, 2006 |publisher=The New Yorker |url=http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/061127fa_fact |accessdate=2006-11-19]

Stratfor (as cited by Media Lens) claimed that an attack inside Iran against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps occurred in early 2007: "this latest attack against IRGC guards was likely carried out by armed Baloch nationalists who have received a boost in support from Western intelligence agencies".cite web
last=
first=
authorlink=
coauthors=
title=MEDIA ALERT: A MENACE TO US ALL - MAX HASTINGS AND IRAN
work=
publisher=Media Lens
date=April 4, 2007
url=http://www.medialens.org/alerts/07/0404a_menace_to.php
format=
doi=
accessdate=2007-04-05
] On April 3, 2007, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) published a claim that Jundullah, a militant Islamic organization that is based in Waziristan, Pakistan and affiliated with Al-Qaeda and has claimed to kill about 400 Iranian soldiers while losing an indeterminable amount of terrorists,cite news
last=Massoud
first=Ansari
coauthors=
title=Sunni group vows to behead Iranians
work=
pages=
language=
publisher=Washington Times
date=January 16, 2006
url=http://www.washtimes.com/world/20060116-124019-6619r.htm
accessdate=2007-04-05
] has been supported by the USA since 2005.cite news|last=Ross|first=Brian|coauthors=Christopher Isham|url=http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/2007/04/abc_news_exclus.html|publisher=American Broadcasting Company|title=The United States Secret War Against Iran|date=2007-04-03|accessdate=2007-04-03]

The U.S. has escalated its covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources.The Washington Post, June 30, 2008, "Cheney's Fingerprints" citing The New Yorker investigative journalism article by Seymour Hirsch, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2008/06/30/BL2008063000719.html?hpid=opinionsbox1 ] The president sought up to four hundred million dollars for these covert military operations, which were described in a secret Presidential Finding and are designed to destabilize Iran's religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations.United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq, with Presidential authorization, since 2007. But the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have been significantly expanded in 2008.

2006 Sanctions against Iranian institutions

The United States, pushing for international sanctions against Tehran over its atomic ambitions, accuses Iran of providing logistical and financial support to Shi'a militias in Iraq, something Tehran denies. [cite news|http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/D890900D-A483-4C19-86C8-41F35135090D.htm|title=Iraq prime minister to visit Iran|publisher=Al Jazeera|date=September 9, 2006] The U.S. government imposed sanctions on an Iranian bank on September 8 2006, barring it from dealing with U.S. financial institutions, even indirectly. The move against Bank Saderat Iran was announced by the undersecretary for treasury, who accused the major state-owned bank in Iran of transferring funds for alleged terrorist groups, including Hezbollah. While Iranian financial institutions are barred from directly accessing the U.S. financial system, they are permitted to do so indirectly through banks in other countries. This move was explicitly aimed at Bank Saderat, which the undersecretary said had transferred 50 million U.S. dollars directly from Iran to a Hezbollah-controlled organsiation, and does not apply to other Iranian banks. He said the U.S. government will also persuade European banks and financial institutions not to deal with Iran. [http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200609/09/eng20060909_301143.html People's Daily Online - U.S. imposes sanctions on Iranian bank ] ]

Iran and Iraq

- The U.S. claims that Iran is backing Shiite militas in Iraq and supplying them with arms, in order to wage a "proxy war' on the U.S. It also claims that 170 Americans have died in this "proxy war." Iran denies these charges. On the positive side, the American and Iranian ambassadors in Iraq have met, and have engaged in direct talks. However, tensions are still high over this issue, as the U.S. raid on the Iranian consulate in Irbil (to be discussed subsequently) shows. But in May 2008 the International Centre for Islamic Information reported Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner admitted the weapons Americans had recently found in Iraq were not made in Iran at all. [ [http://www.insight-info.com/articles/item.aspx?i=1140 US confession: Weapons were not made in Iran after all ] ]

2007 US raids Iran Consulate General

The US armed forces raided the Iranian Consulate General located in Erbil, Iraq and arrested five staff members. Sources said that the US forces first landed their helicopters around the building, then broke through the consulate’s gate, disarmed the guards, confiscated some documents and certain objects, arrested five staff members, and then left for an undisclosed location. People living in the neighborhood were told they could not leave their homes. Three people who left their homes were arrested, and a wife of one of these men confirmed to reporters that the US forces arrested and took her husband away for leaving the house.

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Kamynin said that the raid was absolutely unacceptable and was a violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The Kurdistan Regional Government also expressed their shock and disapproval of the raid.

At a hearing on Iraq on January 11, 2007, United States Senator Joseph Biden (Delaware), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the Bush Administration did not have the authority to send US troops on cross-border raids. Biden said, "I believe the present authorization granted the president to use force in Iraq does not cover that, and he does need congressional authority to do that. I just want to set that marker." After the meeting, Biden sent a follow-up letter to the White House asking for an explanation from the Bush Administration on the matter.

Also on January 11, 2007, Iran's foreign ministry official sent a letter to Iraq's foreign ministry asking Iraq to stop the Bush Administration from interfering with Iraq-Iran relations, and has protested the raid on its consulate general. The official said, "We expect the Iraqi government to take immediate measures to set the aforesaid individuals free and to condemn the US troopers for the measure. Following up on the case and releasing the arrestees is a responsibility of primarily the Iraqi government and then the local government and officials of the Iraqi Kurdistan."

2007 Iran willing to improve relations with U.S

wikinews|Iranian President Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia UniversityIt was said on May 6 2007 that Iran was willing, under the right conditions, to improve its chilly relations with the U.S. despite having passed up the opportunity for direct talks at the Iraq conference in Sharm El-Sheikh from May 3 2007. It was a violent courtship, marked by increased mutual tensions caused by Iranians' fiery statements against the U.S. policy in Iraq, accusing it of terrorism and demanding that a timetable be set for the withdrawal of its troops. The conference was seen by the Americans as an opportunity to get closer to the Iranians and exchange gestures in a public forum. [http://english.daralhayat.com/opinion/OPED/05-2007/Article-20070509-70562d96-c0a8-10ed-01b2-ede84da3c724/story.html Dar Al Hayat ] ]

Claims of arms smuggling against Iran

A former Iranian diplomat, Nosratollah Tajik, was accused by the United States of arms smuggling. He was set to appear in court on April 19 2007. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/wear/6570677.stm Arms accused diplomat in UK court] , BBC News, April 19, 2007]

The Bush administration has accused Iran of supporting the Iraqi insurgency, and claims that an Iranian "proxy war" has killed over 170 American troops in Iraq.Fact|date=October 2007 The Iranian government denies these claims, and Iraqi prime minister Nouri Maliki has praised Iran for its positive and constructive stance on Iraq, including providing security and fighting terrorism. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6938740.stm BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iran urges US pull-out from Iraq ] ] The Iranian and the American ambassadors to Baghdad have held direct talks with each other.Fact|date=October 2007

Possible IRGC terrorist designation by the United States

In August 2007, the Washington Post reported the U.S. government was considering labeling the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) a "terrorist organization." This possible decision to designate the Guard as a terrorist group, according to Bush administration officials [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081401662_pf.html Iranian Unit to Be Labeled 'Terrorist'] ] , was based on

The designation of the Revolutionary Guard would be made under Executive Order 13224, which allows the United States to block the assets of those designated as terrorists and to disrupt operations by foreign businesses that "provide support, services or assistance to, or otherwise associate with, terrorists." [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,293285,00.html U.S. to Label Iran Revolutionary Guard ‘Terrorists’] ]

President Karzai of Afghanistan has argued that Iran is "a helper and a solution" [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2148963,00.html US feels heat as Iranian leader visits Afghanistan] ] for Afghanistan while Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq has argued that Iran has a "positive and constructive" role in helping the Iraqi government improve security in his wartorn nation. [ [http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3461739 Leader: Iran, Iraq Must Work Together] ] When asked if Iran is supplying weapons to the Taliban by Voice of America, a U.S.-funded outlet, current president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, laughed and said the US doesn't want Iran to be friends with Afghanistan. "What is the reason they are saying such things?" asked Ahmadinejad. [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,293202,00.html Ahmadinejad Makes First Visit to Afghanistan] ]

Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear proliferation expert at the Center for American Progress, said after the move "the only way you could get a nuclear deal is as part of a grand bargain, which at this point is completely out of reach." [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/14/AR2007081401662.html Iranian Unit to Be Labeled 'Terrorist'] ] Michael Rubin, a senior research fellow with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he feared the designation "might exculpate the rest of the regime when, in reality, the IRGC's activities cannot be separated from the state leadership of Supreme Leader Khamenei or President Ahmadinejad". [ [http://www.crosswalk.com/news/11552163/ Iran Still Evading UN Sanctions, Says Policy Expert] ] The Iranian daily Kayhan quoted the commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards as threatening to deal heavier blows in the future against the United States in response to the designation. [ [http://www.canada.com/topics/news/world/story.html?id=429dc5d2-dfef-4233-8de4-badbff6513d7&k=75242 Iran Guards warn U.S. of heavier blows ahead: report] ] Mohammad Khatami, former Reforms Front President of Iran hoped to "remind those in the U.S. Congress or elsewhere working for the benefit of the American nation to stand against these measures or the wall between the two countries grow taller and thicker". [ [http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-985319&Lang=E U.S. intellectuals prevent extremist views: Khatami] ]

This would be the first time official armed units of a sovereign state are included in the list of banned terrorist groups. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6947444.stm Iran Guards 'join US terror list' ] ] Kaveh L Afrasiabi, a former consultant to the UN's program of Dialogue Among Civilizations and a consultant to CBS' 60 Minutes [ [http://www.iranian.com/afrasiabi.html Featured writer: Kaveh Afrasiabi] ] , states in "Asia Times Online" that the move has possible legal implication. "Under international law, it could be challenged as illegal, and untenable, by isolating a branch of the Iranian government for selective targeting. This is contrary to the 1981 Algiers Accord's pledge of non-interference in Iran's internal affairs by the US government," Afrasiabi writes. [ [http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IH18Ak04.html US steps closer to war with Iran] ] News leaks about the prospective designation have greatly worried European governments and private sector firms, which could theoretically face prosecution in American courts for working with the Guards. [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,296450,00.html U.S. Officials Begin Crafting Iran Bombing Plan] ]

After a vote in the United States Senate urging the United States Department of State to label the Guards as terrorists, the Iranian Parliament responded by approving a nonbinding resolution labeling the CIA and the U.S. Army "terrorist organizations". The resolution cited U.S. involvement in dropping nuclear bombs in Japan in World War II, using depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans, bombing and killing Iraqi civilians, and torturing terror suspects in prisons among others. [ [http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,298590,00.html FOXNews.com - Iran's Parliament Signs Resolution to Label CIA, Army as 'Terrorist Organizations' - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News ] ]

Release of detained Iranian diplomats and citizens

In November 9 2007, American forces in Iraq released two Iranian diplomats after 305 days [http://www.radiozamaneh.info/news/2007/11/_9_1.html رادیو زمانه | خبر اول | ايران و آمريکا | 9 ایرانی از زندان آمریکا در عراق آزاد شدند ] ] as well as 7 other Iranian citizens. The two Iranian officials were captured in "2007 US raids Iran Consulate General". The other seven Iranians being freed had been picked up in different parts of the country and held for periods ranging between three months and three years. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7086402.stm BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | US releases nine Iranians in Iraq ] ] Here is the list of those who were released:

* Mousa Chegini
* Hamid Reza Askari
* Adel Moradi
* Mohammad Ali Ahmadi
* Ebrahim Mowlaei
* Raed Saeedi
* Azam Karami
* Habib Ghorbani
* Mohammad Jafar Makki Mohammad

"The release followed a careful review of individual records to determine if they posed a security threat to Iraq, and if their detention was of continued intelligence value," the American officials said in a statement.

11 Iranian diplomats and citizens are still kept by American forces.

2008 Naval dispute

A series of naval stand-offs between Iranian speedboats and US warships in the Strait of Hormuz was alleged by the U.S. government to have occurred in December 2007 and January 2008. US officials accused Iran of harassing and provoking their naval vessels, but Iran vehemently denies this. The U.S. presented its version of the incident through a threatening audio recording (in English) from a disputed source superimposed on, in the first release to TV channels, video footage of an alleged incident. Persian-speakers and Iranians have told The Washington Post that the accent in the American recording does not sound Iranian. Iran has accused the U.S. of creating a "media fuss" and has released its own abridged video recording of the incident, which does not reveal any threats. [Washington Post, January 11, 2008, "Iranian Boats May Not Have Made Radio Threat, Pentagon Says," http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/10/AR2008011000692_2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2008011001831] [Inter Press Serice, January 10, 2008, "Official Version of Naval Incident Starts to Unravel," http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=40747 archived at - http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/01/11/6314/]

There has been significant confusion as to the source of the threatening radio transmissions. According to the Navy Times, the incident could have been caused by a locally famous heckler known as the "Filipino monkey". Evidence for this includes that the threatening voice sounds different from that of the Iranian officer. The U.S. Navy itself is unsure of where the threatening message was from. [ [http://www.navytimes.com/news/2008/01/navy_hormuz_iran_radio_080111/ ‘Filipino Monkey’ behind threats? - Navy News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Navy Times ] ] [ [http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/411366/1544810 Prankster linked to US-Iran incident] ] [ [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18086931&ft=1&f=1004 "The Filipino Monkey"?] ] .

2008 meeting in Baghdad

The meeting in Baghdad between Iranian and American diplomats, was "the first formal direct contact after decades during which neither country has been willing to talk to the other." ["The revolution strikes back." "The Economist". Jul 21, 2007. Vol. 384, Iss. 8538; pg. 2 ]

2008 House proposes naval blockade

United States House of Representatives Congressional Resolution 362 [ [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.CON.RES.362: H.CON.RES 362] ] calls for a naval blockade of the Strait of Hormuz. This resolution, as of June 2, 2008, has 146 cosponsors. [ [http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?aid=9377&context=va "House Resolution Calls for Naval Blockade against Iran: America’s powerful pro-Israel lobby pressures the US Congress", Global Research, June 18, 2008] ]

2008 US initiates covert action against Iran via CIA, DIA and Special Forces

In 2008, New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh detailed US covert action plans against Iran involving CIA, DIA and Special Forces. [cite web
url=http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh?currentPage=all
title=Preparing the Battlefield: The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.
last=Hersh
first=Seymour
publisher=The New Yorker
date=2008-07-07
] According to Hersh, the United States is materially supporting the following groups which are performing acts of violence inside Iran:
* Baluchi dissidents. Hersh writes:
* Jundallah, a Sunni and Salafi group. Hersh quotes Vali Nasr on Jundallah as stating that
* Expatriate nationalist group People's Mujahedin of Iran
* Kurdish separatist group PJAKJournalist David Ignatius of the Washington Post asserts that U.S. covert action "appears to focus on political action and the collection of intelligence rather than on lethal operations". [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/01/AR2008070102231.html?hpid=opinionsbox1 "Spy Games in Iran: U.S. Half Steps Mask Indecisive Policy", by David Ignatius, Washington Post, July 2, 2008] ] Iranian commentator Ali Eftagh wrote in the Washington Post that the covert actions that Hersh is reporting are being made public by the Bush administration as a form of psychological warfare. [ [http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/ali_ettefagh/2008/07/memo_to_uncle_sam_iran_is_not.html "Memo to Uncle Sam: Iran Is Not Your Enemy", Ali Eftagh, Washington Post, July 1, 2008 ] ]

2008 US-Iran nuclear negotiations depend on perception of respect

Commentator Kaveh L Afrasiabi in the Asia Times notes that success in US-Iran nuclear negotiations depends on Iranian perception of US respect. [http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JG25Ak01.html "For Iran, respect above all else", by Kaveh L Afrasiabi, July 25, 2008, Asia Times] ]

ee also

*American Iranian Council
*Tehrangeles
*Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal
*Iranian Americans
**List of Iranian Americans
*Famous Americans in Iran
*History of Iran
*Foreign relations of Iran
*Politics of Iran
*Pahlavi dynasty
*U.S. and Iran–Iraq War
**U.S. support for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war
**U.S. support for Iran during the Iran-Iraq war
*Granting US Visa to UN Member-States Officials
*Iran-Israel relations
*Den of Espionage
*Carter Doctrine
*Sanctions against Iranian scientists
*Chicago's Persian heritage crisis
*House Resolution 362

Further reading

* Gareth Porter, "Bush's Iran/Argentina Terror Frame-Up", The Nation, posted January 18, 2008 (web only), [http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080204/porter] .
* Farideh Farhi, "The U.S. and Iran After the NIE", The Audit of Conventional Wisdom Series, MIT Center for International Studies, December 2007. [http://web.mit.edu/cis/pdf/Audit_12_27_farhi.pdf pdf]
* Scott Peterson, "Iran's Peace Museum: The reality vs. the glories of war", The Christian Science Monitor, December 24, 2007. [http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1224/p01s03-wome.html?page=1]
* Lindsay Holmwood, "Book: Powell Pushed Iran Policy Shift", Associated Press, November 11, 2007. [http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hPdGL63GHYa1pOx4CDv9CSBP1mRwD8SR06B80]
* Maziar Bahari, "'A Wall of Mistrust' - A former Iranian diplomat [Sadeg Kharazindash Iran's former deputy foreign minister and ambassador to France] discusses nukes, the Holocaust and how Washington can win Tehran's trust", Newsweek Web Exclusive, November 9, 2007: [http://www.newsweek.com/id/69268] . A brief comment on this article by Farideh Farhi can be read here: [http://icga.blogspot.com/ Informed Comment: Global Affairs] (November 11, 2007).
* Cirincione, Joe & Andy Grotto: " [http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/02/iran_report.html Contain and Engage: A New Strategy for Resolving the Nuclear Crisis with Iran] . The Center for American Progress, 2007.
*Wright, Steven. "The United States and Persian Gulf Security: The Foundations of the War on Terror", Ithaca Press, 2007 ISBN 978-0863723216
*Friedman Alan, "Spider's Web: The Secret History of how the White House Illegally Armed Iraq". New York, Bantam Books, 1993.
*Jentleson Bruce, "With friends like these: Reagan, Bush, and Saddam, 1982-1990". New York, W. W. Norton, 1994.
*Phythian Mark, "Arming Iraq: How the U.S. and Britain Secretly Built Saddam's War Machine". Boston, Northeastern University Press, 1997.
*Morgan Shuster, "The Strangling of Persia", ISBN 0-934211-06-X
*"US - Iran Economic and Political Relations Handbook" (World Diplomatic and International Contacts Library), ISBN 0-7397-0759-0
*cite book
author=Wise, Harold Lee
title= [http://www.insidethedangerzone.com Inside the Danger Zone: The U.S. Military in the Persian Gulf 1987-88]
location=Annapolis |publisher=Naval Institute Press
year=2007
id=ISBN 1-59114-970-3

*http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=8172

References

External links

* [http://stopwaronirancampaign.blogspot.com/ Stop War on Iran Campaign blog]
* Daniel Strum, "For Iran". A video diary of the visit of 17 American delegates of "The Fellowship of Reconciliation" to Iran in December 2005. [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3528307687187683751&q=Iran+progress&total=201&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=1 video.google.com] (33 minutes).
* [http://www.cfr.org/region/404/iran.html Articles and debates about Iran] by Council on Foreign Relations
* [http://www.argumentations.com/Argumentations/ArgumentDetail_60.aspx The current Bush administration will attack Iran] ; an Argument Map by [www.argumentations.com Argumentations] .
* [http://www.stopwaroniran.org Stop War on Iran Campaign]
* [http://www.american-iranian.org AIC Official Website]
* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/showdown/#press PBS FRONTLINE Press Release]
* [http://jeffweintraub.blogspot.com/2006/09/why-iranians-like-america-washington.html "Why Iranians Like America"] by Jeff Weintraub (discussing an article in the Washington Post)
* [http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/02/iran_report.html Contain and Engage: A New Strategy for Resolving the Nuclear Crisis with Iran]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3362443.stm Time line: US-Iran ties] , BBC News
* [http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issues05/mar05/pdf/iran.pdf A New Day in Iran?] (pdf)
* [http://treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/iran/iran.shtml US Treasury - Iran Sanctions]
* [http://www.parstimes.com/history/us_iran.html News coverage of US-Iran Relations]
* [http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=67&ItemID=11894 Changing American-Israeli Plans to Strike Iran]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6376639.stm?ls US 'Iran attack plans' revealed] ; BBC News
* Michael Zirinsky, "Onward Christian Soldiers: Presbyterian Missionaries and the Ambiguous Origins of American Relations with Iran", Bellagio Conference, Italy, August 2000. [http://www.ciaonet.org/conf/mei01/zim01.html CIAONET]
* [http://pressroom.pbs.org/documents/frontline_showdown_with_iran_rls FRONTLINE "Showdown With Iran"]
* [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2208997,00.html Iraqi fighters 'grilled for evidence on Iran']
* [http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20080101faessay87106/vali-nasr-ray-takeyh/the-costs-of-containing-iran.html The cost of Containing Iran] by Vali Nasr and Ray Takeyh, Foreign Affairs
* [http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/CAC/milreview/English/JulAug07/Sadri.pdf Surrounded: Seeing the World from Iran’s Point of View] by Dr. Houman A. Sadri, Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Central Florida.
* Nir Rosen, "Selling the War with Iran", The Washington Note, Thursday, May 1 2008, [http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2008/05/selling_the_war/] .
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/27/AR2007072701694.html 'U.S. vs. Iran: Cold War, Too', Washington Post, July 29, 2007]
* Seymour M. Hersh, "Preparing the Battlefield: The Bush administration steps up its secret moves against Iran", The New Yorker, July 7, 2008, [http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh?currentPage=1] .
* Scott Fisher, [http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1176631653070&pagename=Zone-English-Muslim_Affairs%2FMAELayout An American in Iran (series)] , IslamOnline.net
* Sasan Fayazmanesh, "Historical Amnesia: The Shoot Down of Iran Air Flight 655", Counterpunch, July 11, 2008, [http://www.counterpunch.org/sasan07112008.html] .
* A video recording of the Congressional Hearing regarding the American relationship with Iran, held on November 7, 2007, CapNews.Net: [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbPJIfFmgbs&feature=related YouTube] (2 hours, 25 min).



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