Nov. 24 – Iran and the P5+1 reached an interim agreement that would significantly constrain Tehran’s nuclear program for six months in exchange for modest sanctions relief. Iran pledged to neutralize its stockpile of near-20 percent enriched uranium, halt enrichment above five percent and stop installing centrifuges. Tehran also committed to halt construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor.
June 14 – Rouhani announced that Iran was prepared to fight ISIS in Iraq, if the Iraqi government asked for its help. Rouhani went on to open the door to future cooperation with the United States on the issue.
July 3-19 – The P5+1 began marathon talks on July 3, less than three weeks form the due date for a deal. After about a week and half of discussions, some foreign ministers, including Kerry, Zarif and Hague, went to Vienna to check on progress of the talks. On June 19, the two sides announced that the will extend the talks through November 24, eactly one year since the interim agreement was brokered. Iran agreed to take further steps to decrease its 20 percent enriched uranium stockpile. In return, the P5+1 nations agreed to repatriate $2.8 billion in frozen funds back to Iran.
July 22 – Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian is detained in Iran.
Nov. 9-11 – Kerry, Zarif, and Ashton met for two days of trilateral talks in Oman, followed by a day of meetings between Iran and the full P5+1. The removal of sanctions and levels of uranium enrichment were among the issues on the table, but officials did not report any significant progress from this round of discussions.
Nov. 19-21 – The final round of talks began in Vienna. On November 19, Zarif and Ashton held a meeting, and the U.S. and Iranian teams held bilateral talks. Kerry arrived in Vienna on November 20 after meeting with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi in London and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris. Kerry, Ashton, and Zarif held another round of discussions on November 21, but Zarif noted that he had received "no remarkable proposals to take to Tehran" after the meeting.
March 26-April 2 – Iran and the P5+1 met in Lausanne, Switzerland in the final days before the deadline for a political framework. Kerry and Zarif held bilateral discussions, and negotiators from Britain, China, France, Russia, and Germany joined the talks on March 28.
June 30 – Negotiators announced talks would be extended until July 7. Zarif returned to Vienna, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Kerry in Vienna.
September 17 – After weeks of heated debate, the U.S. Congress failed to pass a resolution of disapproval to block the deal.
Early January – Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr al Nimr, a prominent Shiite leader who supported anti-government demonstrations, along with 46 others for alleged terror-related offenses. The move prompted protests or condemnation from Shiites in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, and Yemen. In Iran, protestors burned part of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and stormed the compound. Demonstrators tried to attack the Saudi Consulate in Mashhad. Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Bahrain, and Djibouti severed diplomatic ties with Iran, and the UAE downgraded its relations with the Islamic Republic.
Jan. 12-13 – Ten U.S. sailors and their two vessels were detained by the IRGC Navy on Jan. 12 as they mistakenly passed through Iranian waters near Farsi Island. The sailors were brought to an Iranian base on the island and released the next day after a telephone call between U.S. Sectary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and a flurry of diplomacy.
Jan. 16 – Iran and the P5+1 marked the nuclear deal's Implementation Day after the IAEA's director general confirmed that Iran has taken the necessary steps to start implementation of the nuclear deal. The United States, European Union, and United Nations lifted or suspended certain sanctions. Iran also regained access to the international financial system, repatriated billions of dollars in frozen assets abroad, and returned to the oil market.
The same day, the U.S. State Department confirmed the release of four Iranian-Americans as part of a prisoner swap with Iran. They were Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari. A fifth American, Matthew Trevithick, was also released separately. In exchange, the United States offered clemency to seven Iranians, six of whom had dual citizenship.
Jan. 22-23 – Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran. During the visit, Iranian and Chinese officials signed 17 agreements in energy, industry, transportation, technology, and other fields.
Jan. 25-29 – In his first trip to Europe, President Rouhani traveled to France, Italy, and the Vatican. He signed a series of trade deals with French and Italian companies.
March 24 – The United States indicted seven Iranians for their involvement in “a coordinated cyber assault” against the United States. On the same day, the Treasury Department issued new sanctions against organizations related to Iran’s missile program and those with connections to Mahan Air, an Iranian airline designated as a supporter of terrorism.
April 20 – On April 20, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a judgement that held Iran financially responsible for terrorist attacks dating back to the 1983 Marine Corps barracks bombing in Beirut. It cleared the way for families affected by attacks to collect nearly $2 billion in funds tied to Iran’s central bank.
June 15 – President Rouhani announced that Iran had filed a lawsuit against the United States in the International Court of Justice regarding the U.S. seizure of frozen Iranian funds.
Aug. 1 – Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei questioned the economic benefits of the JCPOA for the people of Iran and cited it as evidence that it was useless to negotiate with Washington. He also rejected the notion of negotiating with the United States on any regional issues.
Aug. 16-22 – Iranian officials confirmed that Russia was using a base inside Iran to launch air strikes in Syria. After significant backlash, Iran announced on August 22 that Russia was no longer using the base.
Aug. 26 – Following the temporary use of an Iranian air base by Russia, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani reiterated that Tehran’s strategic partnership with Moscow had not ended.
Also on that day, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif requested that the U.S. Department of the Treasury produce a letter assuring foreign banks and institutions that they could do more businesses with Iran. Previously, Iranian officials had also requested that Washington encourage foreign institutions to work with Iran.
Sept. 22 – In his speech at the U.N. General Assembly, President Hassan Rouhani called on "certain countries in the region" to stop "bombarding their neighbors and put an end to their support for Takfiri terrorist groups." He singled out Saudi Arabia for the “spread of hate ideology and trampling upon the rights of neighbors,” referring to its involvement in Yemen. Rouhani also criticized the United States for not fully adhering to its obligations under the nuclear deal.
Nov. 8 – Iran announced that it was prepared to sign a deal with the French company Total SA to develop an Iranian offshore gas field. The deal, reportedly worth $6 billion, involved Total and the China National Petroleum Corp, which would work with the state-owned Petropars to develop the field.
Iran of test launching a medium-range ballistic missile. The Trump administration said the launch was in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231.
April 4 – Boeing announced a $3 billion Memorandum of Agreement with Iran Aseman Airlines to buy 30 Boeing 737 MAX planes. The deal included an option the company to purchase an additional 30 planes. Deliveries were scheduled to begin in 2022.
June 5 – On June 5, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in a coordinated move. They accused Qatar of destabilizing the region by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al Qaeda, Iranian-backed groups in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and Houthi rebels in Yemen. Yemen, the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government also cut ties with the small Gulf nation. Only two Gulf Cooperation Council states, Kuwait and Oman, did not cut ties. Kuwait offered to mediate.
Early January – Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr al Nimr, a prominent Shiite leader who supported anti-government demonstrations, along with 46 others for alleged terror-related offenses. The move prompted protests or condemnation from Shiites in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Lebanon, and Yemen. In Iran, protestors burned part of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and stormed the compound. Demonstrators tried to attack the Saudi Consulate in Mashhad. Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Bahrain, and Djibouti severed diplomatic ties with Iran, and the UAE downgraded its relations with the Islamic Republic.
Jan. 25 – Israel accused Iran at the UN Security Council of controlling 82,000 militants in Syria, including both foreign and Syrian fighters, with the intent of attacking Israel and destabilizing the region. Iran denied the charges and accused Israel of being the main regional source of instability.
Feb. 10 – Israel intercepted an Iranian drone that crossed into Israeli airspace from Syria. Israeli air forces then attacked the T-4 command center the Iranian drone was launched from near Palmyra. One Israeli fighter jet crashed in northern Israel on its way back after coming under Syrian antiaircraft fire. Israel then hit eight Syrian targets and four Iranian positions in Syria.
Feb. 26 – Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution renewing an arms embargo on the Houthis in Yemen and condemning Iranian violations of the previous embargo. A Russian draft resolution to renew the embargo without language against Iranian activities passed the council.
Feb. 27 – Iran signed an agreement to lease the southeastern Iranian port of Chabahar to India for 18 months. India hoped to use the Iranian port as a gateway to Afghan and Central Asian markets that avoided Pakistan and countered China’s own development projects. Prime Minister Modi stated India’s intent to develop Iran’s rail infrastructure linked to the port. The agreement camesless than two weeks after Iran increased its freight discount on oil sales to India to grow its share of the Indian market.
March 3 – Bahrain arrested more than 100 members of a militant network allegedly established by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to attack Bahraini government and security targets. Bahrain claimed that nearly 50 members of the network had been trained by Iran in Iraq and Lebanon.
March 15 – U.S. Secretary of Defense Mattis accused Iran of using money to influence the upcoming Iraqi elections.
May 1 – A U.S. federal judge from the Southern District of New York ruled Iran was liable for the 9/11 attacks and was required to pay $6 billion to the families of those killed. The judge issued a default judgment, signaling Iran did not contest the case in court.
May 1 – Morocco severed diplomatic ties with Iran over Iranian support for the Polisario Front, which seeks Sahrawi independence in Western Sahara.
May 8 – President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA and reimposition of sanctions on Iran. Britain, France and Germany moved to salvage the accord. Iran stated its intent to continue with the deal if its economic benefits could be guaranteed. Both China and Russia stated their intention to observe the JCPOA and continue to trade with Iran. Non-party states with significant trade interests in Iran, such as Turkey and India, stated their intention to observe the JCPOA and respect U.N., not U.S., sanctions.
May 16 – Total signaled its intention to withdraw from the South Pars natural gas field development, a $2 billion project, unless it received a sanctions waiver from the U.S. government. Chinese firms were reportedly ready to replace Total.
May 18 – The European Commission launched a process to activate the Blocking Statute to protect European firms from U.S. sanctions and preserve trade ties with Iran to salvage the JCPOA.
May 23 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued six conditions that must be met by Europe for Iran to remain in the nuclear deal. He demanded that Europe secure “a resolution against the U.S. violation” of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Khamenei said Europe must promise to stop objecting to its missile testing and actions in the Middle East as well as to stand against U.S. sanctions. He also sought protection for oil sales and financial transactions with Iran. "If the Europeans linger over our demands, Iran has the right to resume its nuclear activities. When we see that the JCPOA was useless, one way forward is to restart those halted activities," Khamenei warned in an address to government officials.
July 5 – Foreign ministers from the remaining signatories to the JCPOA met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna to discuss ways to blunt the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran. It was the first time the ministers had met since President Trump pulled the United States out of the JCPOA on May 8. They failed to reach consensus on the content or timing of economic support to Iran.
July 16 – Iran filed a lawsuit against the United States at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions. Iran alleged that the United States violated a treaty signed in 1955, more than two decades before the Islamic Revolution and the subsequent souring of relations between the two countries.
Aug. 6 – The United States reimposed sanctions banning transactions with Iran in U.S. dollars. It also sanctioned trade in precious metals, aluminum, steel, aircraft, coal, carpets, and food. The European Union enacted a “blocking statute” to protect European firms engaged in business with Iran from U.S. legal action.
Sep. 25 – The remaining signatories of the JCPOA pledged to create a “Special Purpose Vehicle” (SPV) that would enable firms to make payments to Iran. The SPV would bypass U.S. sanctions by not using U.S. dollars.
President Rouhani gave a speech at the United Nations in which he criticized the Trump administration. “The Iranian people have demonstrated their unwavering resilience during the past forty years despite the difficulties and constraints caused by sanctions, and have shown that they can overcome this difficult phase as well,” he said. Rouhani’s address followed one by Trump, in which Trump said, "Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond."
Oct. 3 – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the United States to ease sanctions on Iran for humanitarian reasons. The court lacked an enforcement mechanism, so the ruling was largely a symbolic victory for the Islamic Republic. Iran had filed the lawsuit against the United States in July. It alleged that the re-imposition of sanctions violated a treaty signed in 1955, more than two decades before the Islamic Revolution and the subsequent souring of U.S.-Iran relations. Pompeo said Iran was “abusing the ICJ for political and propaganda purposes.” He also announced the termination of the 1955 Treaty of Amity.
Nov. 5 – U.S. sanctions prohibiting the purchase of Iranian oil went into effect. The United States granted waivers to eight countries—China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey—allowing them to continue importing Iranian oil at reduced rates.
Nov. 22 – The U.S. ambassador to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) alleged that Iran failed to declare all its chemical weapons to the group. “The United States is also concerned that Iran is pursuing Central Nervous System-Acting Chemicals for offensive purposes,” Ambassador Kenneth Ward told participants at an OPCW conference. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif dismissed the U.S. claim. “US wants to resort to int'l conventions to make allegations against Iran when it's made a policy of violating them itself. WMD allegations—by a country that supported Iraq’s use of CW against Iran; then invaded Iraq to allegedly rid it of them—is not just obscene, it’s dangerous,” said Zarif.
Jan. 31 – Britain, France, and Germany announced the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for European companies to facilitate trade with Iran. The entity, formally named the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), was designed to facilitate trade with Iran in humanitarian goods that are exempt from U.S. sanctions under the Trade Sanction Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. INSTEX enabled firms to barter those goods with Iran, thereby avoiding transactions in U.S. dollars.
Feb. 4 – President Trump said that U.S. forces departing Syria would shift to bases in Iraq to “watch” Iran, in an interview with CBS news. Iraqi leaders quickly condemned his remark. “Do not burden Iraq with your own policy priorities,” said Iraqi President Barham Salih. On March 11, President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Iraq for a three-day visit. It was his first official visit to Iran’s western neighbor. Rouhani’s meetings with top political, military, community, and religious leaders clearly signaled that Iran’s relationship with Iraq will remain strong despite U.S. concerns. Rouhani also secured a rare meeting with Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al Sistani, Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric.
Feb. 13 – A suicide bombing in the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan killed 27 IRGC soldiers. President Rouhani blamed the United States and Israel for the attack, but IRGC Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani accused neighboring Pakistan of allowing Saudi Arabia to fund the Baluch insurgent group Jaish-e Adl. “I warn you [Pakistan] not to test Iran, and anyone who has tested Iran has received firm response,” Soleimani said. "I tell the Pakistani people that the Saudi cash has influenced Pakistan and they want to destroy Pakistan with such measures." Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have historically had close relations.
Feb. 14 – Vice President Mike Pence demanded that the United States’ European allies leave the JCPOA. "The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join with us as we bring the economic and diplomatic pressure necessary to give the Iranian people, the region and the world, the peace, security and freedom they deserve," Pence said at an Iran-focused summit in Warsaw. German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the demand.
April 8 – The United States announced the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), effective April 15. The IRGC is Iran’s most powerful military and security organization as well as a key economic player. “This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” said President Donald Trump. He noted that it was the “first time that the United States has ever named part of another government as a FTO.” In response, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council designated U.S. Central Command forces as terrorists and the U.S. as a “sponsor of terrorism.”
April 22 – Secretary of State Pompeo announced that the United States would stop providing sanctions exemptions to eight countries that imported Iranian oil: India, China, Turkey, Italy, Greece, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure on the Iranian regime until its leaders change their destructive behavior, respect the rights of the Iranian people, and return to the negotiating table,” said Pompeo. He noted that oil sales accounted for up to 40 percent of Iran’s revenue. The Trump administration's stated goal was to bring Iranian exports down to zero.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Tehran. Khan and Iranian President Rouhani announced their countries’ intent to establish a joint border security force in Baluchistan. Insurgencies in Baluchistan, an area that is split between Pakistan and Iran, had long been a source of tension between the two neighboring countries.
May 3 – The United States sanctioned imports of enriched uranium from Iran. JCPOA signatory countries—notably Russia—had imported Iran’s enriched uranium to prevent Tehran’s supply from exceeding the JCPOA’s cap. The U.S. sanctions made it impossible for Iran to remain within JCPOA limits without halting its enrichment. The United States extended sanctions waivers that allowed foreign firms to work on reconfiguring Iranian reactors for civilian use and that allowed countries to provide enriched uranium fuel for civilian reactors in Bushehr and Tehran.
May 8 – President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran was suspending some of its JCPOA commitments. It would no longer send enriched uranium abroad (doing so had already been made difficult by U.S. sanctions), which would cause Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium to exceed the JCPOA limit by early July. Rouhani said that Iran would begin enriching its uranium to higher levels and would restart work on the Arak heavy water plant if other JCPOA signatories did not protect Iran’s oil and banking sectors from U.S. sanctions within 60 days. “We have given deadlines to JCPOA member states several times,” he said. "In simpler language, we felt that there was a need for surgery and the one-year-old painkillers were not enough; today's action is a surgical procedure to save the JCPOA, not to end it.”
May 12 – Four ships off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were sabotaged, including two Saudi Arabian oil tankers. One was due to take a delivery of Saudi oil to the United States. “Fortunately, the attack didn't lead to any casualties or oil spill; however, it caused significant damage to the structures of the two vessels,” said Khalid al-Falih, the kingdom’s energy minister. The UAE did not speculate on who might have been responsible, but the alleged attack came as the United States warned that “Iran or its proxies” could target maritime traffic in and around the Persian Gulf. Iran denied any involvement and accused the Trump administration officials of trying to frame it.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels also carried out a drone attack on two Saudi pipeline pump stations, damaging one. Saudi Arabia’s defense minister Khalid bin Salman blamed Iran, “The attack by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias against the two Aramco pumping stations proves that these militias are merely a tool that Iran's regime uses to implement its expansionist agenda in the region, and not to protect the people of Yemen as the Houthis falsely claim.”
May 12-18 – Foreign Minister Zarif visited India, Japan, and China to seek economic relief after the United States halted sanctions waivers on Iranian oil imports for those countries. He received only tepid support. “The Chinese side is willing to, together with the Iranian side, eliminate the interference of complex factors to fully implement the JCPOA,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. On May 23, India announced that it had ceased oil imports from Iran.
May 22 – Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the chairman of Parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee said that Iran will “under no circumstances” enter a war with the United States. “No group can announce that it has entered a proxy war from Iran’s side,” he said, according to ILNA via the Associated Press.
May 23 - Oman’s Foreign Ministry said it was working to ease tensions between Iran and the United States. It tweeted remarks made by Foreign Minister Alawi in an interview with Al-Sharq Al-Wasat. Alawi warned that war “could harm the entire world if it breaks out.”
May 25 – Foreign Minister Zarif visited Pakistan for the tenth time in his six-year tenure. Relations between Iran and Pakistan, previously marked by tension and mistrust, appeared to be improving. “Pakistan understands our position [vis-à-vis the United States in the Persian Gulf],” Zarif said after his meetings in Islamabad.
May 26 – Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al Hakim said his country would like to help deescalate tensions between Iran and the United States. “We are trying to help and to be mediators,” he said at a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. Hakim added that Baghdad does not approve of unilateral steps taken by Washington. Zarif called for a non-aggression pact between Iran and the Arab Gulf states.
May 27 – President Trump offered to negotiate a new nuclear deal with Iran and identified nuclear weapons as his priority. “It [Iran] has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership,” Trump said. “We aren’t looking for regime change - I just want to make that clear. We are looking for no nuclear weapons.”
June 10 – Foreign Minister Zarif warned that the United States “cannot expect to stay safe” after waging what he called an “economic war” against Iran. “The only solution for reducing tensions in this region is stopping that economic war,” he said during a visit by his German counterpart. “Whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it,” he added. The combative language was uncharacteristic of the top diplomat.
June 13 – Two more tankers – one owned by Japan and one owned by Norway – were attacked in the Gulf of Oman. The second ship, the Front Altair, may have been targeted by a torpedo, according to CPC Corp, which chartered the ship. The Front Altair’s crew of 23 were reportedly rescued by the Hyundai Dubai vessel and were transferred to an Iranian navy vessel bound for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. Iranian state media claimed that all 44 crew members from both ships were rescued by Iranian teams. The U.S. Navy offered aid in dealing with the two damaged tankers.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the attacks – and other incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan – on Iran. He said the U.S. judgement was based on intelligence, “weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.” U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) released a video allegedly showing Iranian sailors removing a mine from the Kokura Courageous’ hull. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied Iran’s responsibility and said the timing was beyond “suspicious.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in Tehran at the time to deliver a message from President Trump to Supreme Leader Khamenei. “I do not see Trump as worthy of any message exchange, and I do not have any reply for him, now or in future,” Khamenei told Abe.
June 15 – President Rouhani reiterated his warning that Iran will “terminate the implementation of some of its obligations” under the JCPOA unless other signatories show “positive signals.” Iran “cannot stick to this agreement unilaterally,” he told Chinese, Russian and other Asian leaders at Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
June 17 – An AEOI spokesman announced that Iran would surpass the JCPOA’s low-enriched uranium stockpile limit on June 27. Behrouz Kamalvandi accused European countries of “killing time” rather than moving to ensure Iran would derive significant economic benefits from the nuclear deal. “If this condition continues, there will be no deal” anymore, he warned. President Trump said in an interview that he would “certainly” go to war with Iran “over nuclear weapons.”
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) released high-resolution photos allegedly showing an IRGC boat removing an unexploded mine from the Kokuka Courageous. Additional photos showed a magnetic device that the mine was attached to and damage to the tanker’s hull.
Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan authorized the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East. “The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” he said. Shanahan reiterated that the United States was not seeking a conflict with Iran and that the action was solely “defensive.”
June 19 – The U.S. Navy presented limpet mine fragments that allegedly linked Iran to the attack on the Kokuka Courageous. “The limpet mine that was used in the attack is distinguishable and also strikingly bearing a resemblance to Iranian mines that have already been publicly displayed in Iranian military parades,” said Sean Kido, commanding officer of an explosive ordnance dive and salvage task group in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).
June 20 – Iran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed it downed an RQ-4 Global Hawk after it violated Iranian airspace. The United States confirmed that the drone was shot down but claimed that it was flying over international waters.
June 21 – President Trump ordered a retaliatory strike on Iranian radar and missile batteries, but called off the attack at the last minute. "Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down," according to a senior administrative official. Trump confirmed that he had aborted the operation. He said that the strike, which was estimated to kill 150 Iranians, would have been disproportionate to the downing of the unmanned drone.
Tehran claimed that it had refrained from shooting down a U.S. military aircraft with 35 people on board. “With the U.S. drone in the region there was also an American P-8 plane with 35 people on board. This plane also entered our airspace and we could have shot it down, but we did not,” said Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the IRGC aerospace division.
June 21 – Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov announced that Russia would help Iran export oil if the European Union’s INSTEX trade mechanism failed to launch. INSTEX had failed to gain traction since its announcement in Jan. 2019 because European businesses feared using it would cost them access to the U.S. market.
June 22 – The Department of Homeland Security said that it had observed a rising number of malicious cyber activities directed at U.S. government agencies by Iranian state actors and proxies. “What might start as an account compromise, where you think you might just lose data, can quickly become a situation where you’ve lost your whole network,” Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher C. Krebs said in a statement.
The Associated Press reported that U.S. Cyber Command launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on June 21. The cyber attack disabled IRGC computer systems that controlled rocket and missile launchers, according to three officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Iran executed Jalal Hajizavar, a former defense ministry employee, on charges of spying for the Central Intelligence Agency. Iranian state media reported that Hajizavar had “openly confessed” to the espionage charges after spying equipment and documents were found in his home. On June 18, the United States, however, denied Iran’s claims that it had dismantled a spying network.
June 24 – The United States imposed sanctions on Supreme Leader Khamenei and members of his office. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that the new sanctions meant “closing the door of diplomacy” between the United States and Iran. Presidents Trump and Rouhani traded insults; Rouhani said that the White House was “afflicted by mental retardation,” and Trump threatened “obliteration” in response to future Iranian attacks on “anything American.”
July 1 – Iran breached the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal by exceeding limits on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. Tehran is only allowed to store 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium under the deal, negotiated by six major world powers. It is supposed to sell or exchange any surplus. "We told the Europeans that if more practical, mature and complete measures were taken, Iran's reduction (to its) commitments could be reversed. Otherwise, we will continue," said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi.
July 2 – The foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Britain said they were “extremely concerned” by Iran’s decision to breach the 2015 nuclear deal. “We regret this decision by Iran, which calls into question an essential instrument of nuclear non-proliferation,” they said in a joint statement with the EU High Representative to Iran.
July 3 – President Hassan Rouhani threatened to increase Iran’s enriched uranium levels to “any amount we want” if European countries do not find a way to sidestep U.S. sanctions by July 7. “Our level of enrichment will no longer be 3.67. We will put this commitment aside by whatever amount we feel like, by whatever amount is our necessity, our need. We will take this above 3.67,” said Rouhani on July 3.
July 8 – Iran began enriching uranium past the 3.67 percent mark specified by the 2015 nuclear agreement. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced that it was enriching uranium at 4.5 percent. The IAEA confirmed the breach after an inspection. Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi warned that Iran’s next step will be “harder, more steadfast and somehow stunning” if European countries do not find a way to bypass U.S. sanctions.
July 14 – President Hassan Rouhani said Iran was ready to hold discussions with the United States if the Trump administration agreed to end crippling sanctions and return to the 2015 nuclear deal. “We have always believed in talks ... if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks with America today, right now and anywhere,” said Rouhani on state television.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to reject Rouhani’s offer. “President Trump will obviously make the final decision. But this is a path that the previous administration had gone down and it led to the (Iran nuclear deal) which this administration, President Trump and I both believe was a disaster,” he said.
July 15 – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the door was “wide open” to negotiations if the Trump administration lifted economic sanctions against Tehran. He claimed Iran favored diplomacy and did not want to go to war with the United States. "I do not believe that President Trump wants war. But I believe that people are around him who wouldn't mind," Zarif said. "But I don't think they'll succeed because at the end of the day, I think prudence will prevail. People know that Iran is a big, proud country. And we will not take a military attack lightly."
The United Nations expressed concern that the United States was restricting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to only three locations during his visit to New York City. Government officials said that Zarif could only travel between the United Nations, the Iranian U.N. mission, the Iranian U.N. ambassador’s residence. Zarif’s restrictions were “fully consistent” with 1947 U.N. “headquarters agreement” according to U.S. officials.
July 16 – President Trump reassured that the United States was not seeking to topple the Iranian regime. “We’ll be good to them, we’ll work with them. We’ll help them in any way we can, but they can’t have a nuclear weapon. We’re not looking, by the way, for regime change,” Trump told reporters. He added that a lot of progress had been made in negotiations with Tehran.
July 18 – President Trump said that the U.S. downed an Iranian drone when it came within 1,000 yards of the USS Boxer in the Persian Gulf. The drone was brought down using electronic jamming after ignoring “multiple calls to stand down." "This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters. The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities and interest and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce,” Trump stated.
July 19 – Tehran denied that the U.S. had downed one of its drones and said it would release images disproving the American claim. “All Iranian drones that are in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, including the one which the U.S. mentioned, after carrying out scheduled identification and control missions, have returned to their bases,”said Iran’s top military spokesman Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekari. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi also refuted the U.S. statement in a tweet.
The Pentagon announced a “multinational maritime effort” called Operation Sentinel “to increase surveillance of and security in key waterways in the Middle East to ensure freedom of navigation in light of recent events in the Arabian Gulf region.” The campaign would provide coordinated escorts for the flagged vessels of participating nations. U.S. Central Command also approved the deployment of 500 troops to Saudi Arabia as “an additional deterrent” to Iran. Riyadh accepted the basing agreement that placed U.S. combat troops in Saudi Arabia for the first time in over a decade.
July 22 – Iran claimed it uncovered a CIA spy ring and detained 17 citizens on charges of espionage. Iranian intelligence officials said the U.S. spies worked in sensitive military and nuclear facilities around the country. "Individuals who consciously and deliberately betrayed the country and refused to compensate for the losses have been handed over to the judiciary system. Others, who honestly cooperated with the security system and their remorsefulness have been proved, have been managed with intelligence direction against Americans," said Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged caution in trusting the Iranian reports. “The Iranian regime has a long history of lying ... I would take with a significant grain of salt any Iranian assertion about actions that they’ve taken,” he said. President Trump later categorically denied Tehran’s claims in a tweet.
July 25 – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would go to Iran for talks on regional security if invited. He added that he would welcome the opportunity “to speak directly to the Iranian people.” Three days later, Pompeo said Tehran had not accepted his offer.
July 31 – The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif for acting on behalf of Supreme Leader Khamenei. “Iran’s Foreign Ministry is not merely the diplomatic arm of the Islamic Republic but also a means of advancing many of the Supreme Leader’s destabilizing policies,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Foreign Minister Zarif is a key enabler of Ayatollah Khamenei’s policies throughout the region and around the world. The designation of Javad Zarif today reflects this reality.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the designation “childish.” In a defiant tweet, Zarif said, “Thank you for considering me such a huge threat to your agenda.”
The U.S. State Department renewed five sanctions waivers permitting foreign firms to work on Iran’s civil nuclear program without penalties. The waivers, which were renewed for an additional 90 days, specifically permitted European, Russian, and Chinese companies to continue civil nuclear projects at Iranian nuclear facilities.
Aug. 5 – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that he was given an invitation to the White House by Senator Rand Paul. “During my trip to New York, I was told I would be sanctioned within two weeks unless I accept their invitation, which I rejected,” he claimed. Zarif added that the U.S. sanctions against him represented a “failure” in diplomacy.
Aug. 6 – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the United States must lift all sanctions before negotiations could begin. “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” he warned.
Aug. 11 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged haj pilgrims to protest a U.S. plan to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “The trick called ‘Deal of the Century’, which is being pushed by an oppressive America and its traitorous companions, is a crime against human society, and not just the Palestinian people,” he told Iranian pilgrims at a rally.
Aug. 15 – Gibraltar released the Grace 1, an Iranian oil tanker impounded by Britain since July 4, despite a U.S. bid to prolong the detention. The United States applied to seize the Iranian tanker, but a Gibraltar court denied the request. Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo said the United States could file a new appeal, but ordered the tanker’s immediate release after the Iranian government provided documentation that the ship would not deliver oil to Syria.
Aug. 18 – The Adrian Darya 1, renamed from the Grace 1 and re-flagged from Panama Iran, left Gibraltar for Kalamata, Greece after being detained by Britain for over a month. On August 16, the United States issued a warrant to seize the tanker and its 2.1 million barrels of crude oil. But the Gibraltar government said it could not comply with the request because U.S. sanctions against Iran did not apply in the European Union.
Aug. 26 – French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters after the G7 summit that he hoped to arrange a meeting between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “in the coming weeks.” Trump said there was a “really good chance” for a potential meeting with Rouhani.
Rouhani initially signaled his openness to negotiations. “If I knew that going to a meeting and visiting a person would help my country’s development and resolve the problems of the people, I would not miss it,” he said in a televised speech.
Aug. 27 – In a televised speech, Rouhani said that Iran is ready to hold talks. “But first the U.S. should act by lifting all illegal, unjust and unfair sanctions imposed on Iran.” He called on Washington to demonstrate good faith ahead of potential negotiations. “Washington has the key for positive change ... So take the first step ... Without this step, this lock will not be unlocked.” He also warned that Iran could continue to curb its compliance with the JCPOA if its economic interests are not guaranteed. Rouhani, like many other Iranian officials, reiterated that Iran would never seek nuclear weapons because Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa (religious decree) in the 2003 banning them.
Sept. 4 – Trump told reporters that “anything is possible” when asked about a meeting with Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly opening. “We’re going to see what happens. They want to talk. They want to make a deal,” he said. “I very much appreciate President Macron’s involvement but we’re not dealing through President Macron, we’re dealing with people directly.”
U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook announced a reward of up to $15 million for any person who provides information that could disrupt the financial operations of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Qods Force. “Today’s announcement is historic. It’s the first time that the United States has offered a reward for information that disrupts a government entity’s financial operations,” said Hook. He also outlined Treasury designations of more than 25 entities and individuals and 11 vessels involved in what he described as an IRGC “oil-for-terror network” that illicitly shipped oil to Syria and elsewhere. In a tweet, Zarif called the reward offer “outright blackmail.”
Rouhani announced Iran’s third step in rolling back its commitments to the JCPOA in a speech late at night on state television. “The Atomic Energy Organization [of Iran] is ordered to immediately start whatever is needed in the field of research and development, and abandon all the commitments that were in place regarding research and development,” he said.
Sept. 8 – Two diplomatic sources told Reuters that the IAEA found uranium traces at a site that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu alleged was a “secret atomic warehouse.” The uranium was not highly enriched but called Tehran’s transparency into question. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton demanded a report as soon as possible.
Sept. 9 – Prime Minister Netanyahu alleged that Iran conducted experiments relating to nuclear weapons development at a site near the city of Abadeh. “When Iran realized that we uncovered the site, here’s what they did,” he said in televised remarks, showing a photograph of the site from a month later. “They destroyed the site. They just wiped it out.”
On Twitter, Foreign Minister Zarif accused Netanyahu of lying and posted a picture of a newspaper story discussing Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal in Dimona.
Sept. 14 – The United States accused Iran of facilitating drone attacks on two major Saudi oil facilities. "Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply. There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen," said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He added that Tehran had “pretended to engage in diplomacy” with the United States.
Iran denied any responsibility for the attacks. On September 15, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said blaming Iran would not end the regional conflict. "Having failed at max pressure, Sec Pompeo is turning to max deceit,” Zarif tweeted.
Sept. 15 – President Trump walked back previous offers to negotiate with Tehran without preconditions. He blamed the “Fake News” for the reports, which he called “incorrect."
Sept. 17 – Iran’s supreme leader ruled out the possibility of bilateral talks with Washington. His remarks came one day after President Trump blamed Iran for an attack on Saudi oil facilities that cut production in half. Tehran denied involvement. In remarks to seminary students, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei seemed to rule out a potential meeting between President Rouhani and President Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly later in September. “The policy of maximum pressure on the Iranian nation is of little importance, and all the officials in the Islamic Republic unanimously believe that there will be no negotiations at any level with the United States,” said Khamenei.
Sept. 18 – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities an “act of war.” He denied claims that the attacks originated in Yemen. "As for how we know, the equipment used is unknown to be in the Houthi arsenal. These line attack cruise missiles we have never seen there and we think we’ve seen most everything,” Pompeo said. President Trump said the United States would “substantially increase sanctions” against Tehran within the next 48 hours.
Sept. 19 — Iranian Foreign Minister warned that Tehran could respond to a U.S. or Saudi military strike with “all-out war.” He questioned Saudi resolve and told CNN that the kingdom was prepared to fight "to the last American soldier." Zarif said Tehran hoped to avoid conflict but added, “We won't blink to defend our territory.”
Sept. 20 —President Trump announced sanctions on Iran’s central bank. “We’ve never done it at this level,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “It’s too bad what’s happening with Iran. It’s going to hell.” Trump added, “They are broke and they could solve the problem very easily. All they have to do is stop with the terror.” Trump had directed the Treasury to increase sanctions on Iran following the September 14 drone and cruise missile strike on Saudi oil facilities, which Washington blamed on Tehran. Iran denied involvement. “Attacking other nations and disrupting the global economy has a price. The regime in Tehran must be held accountable through diplomatic isolation and economic pressure,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The United States also sanctioned the National Development Fund of Iran and Etemad Tejarate Pars Co., which allegedly conceals financial transfers for military purchases. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the measures would cut off Tehran’s last remaining source of funds.
Sept. 25 – The IAEA found that Iran had breached the JCPOA again by using advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium. The U.N. watchdog “verified that all of the (centrifuge) cascades already installed in R&D lines 2 and 3 ... were accumulating, or had been prepared to accumulate, enriched uranium,” according to a new report. The JCPOA only allowed Iran to use some 5,000 of its first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium. Advanced centrifuges were supposed to only be used in small numbers for research purposes.
The United States announced sanctions on five Chinese companies and six Chinese nationals accused of importing oil from Iran. The United States designated the China Concord Petroleum Co. Ltd., and two units of a major Chinese shipping company, Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Co. Ltd. and Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Seaman and Ship Management Co. Ltd. Washington also sanctioned the companies’ top executives. “We are telling China, and all nations: know that we will sanction every violation,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a speech at the United Against Nuclear Iran Summit.
Oct. 5 - Iran released Jolie King, a British-Australian dual citizen, and her Australian boyfriend, Mark Firkin after three months of detention. In June 2019, the two travel bloggers were detained during a cross-continent trek from Perth, Australia to London. The couple was arrested for flying a drone near Tehran without a permit, according to a prominent Iranian journalist. Iran dropped all charges against the travel bloggers following “very sensitive negotiations” with the Australian government.
Nov. 4 – Iran began operating 30 new IR-6 centrifuges, doubling its number of the advanced machines. The chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Iran was operating a total of 60 of the centrifuges, which are some 10 times more efficient than the IR-1s allowed under the JCPOA. The announcement coincided with the 40th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by students.
Salehi said that Iran went from producing about 450 grams (1 pound) of low-enriched uranium a day to 5 kilograms (11 pounds). He said Iran’s stockpile had grown beyond 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds). The JCPOA had limited Iran’s stockpile to 300 kilograms (661 pounds).
Nov. 4 – The United States marked 40 years since the seizure of its embassy in Tehran by announcing new sanctions on Iran. The Treasury Department blacklisted nine members of the supreme leader’s inner circle. “The designation seeks to block funds from flowing to a shadow network of Khamenei’s military and foreign affairs advisors who have for decades oppressed the Iranian people, supported terrorism, and advanced destabilizing policies around the world,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Nov. 5 – President Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran would start injecting gas into 1,044 centrifuges at Fordo. The heavily fortified facility, built inside a mountain, was intended to be a research facility under the JCPOA, not an active site. The IR-1 centrifuges at Fordo had been spinning but were not enriching uranium. Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Iran would begin enriching uranium to five percent at Fordo. Iran injected uranium gas into the centrifuges at Fordo on November 7. Secretary of State Pompeo accused Tehran of extorting the international community into accepting its nuclear program and behavior in the region
Nov. 6 – Iran reportedly held IAEA inspector and confiscated her travel documents while she was at the Natanz nuclear facility. The 2015 nuclear deal allowed for periodic IAEA inspections to ensure Iran was adhering to regulations. The IAEA’s Board of Governors convened an emergency meeting on November 7 to discuss the matters.
Nov. 11 – In its quarterly report, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said that Iran had violated the 2015 nuclear deal by increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium. The IAEA also reported that its inspectors had found traces of uranium “at a location in Iran not declared to the agency.”
France, Germany, Britain, and the European Union issued a joint statement saying they were “extremely concerned” by Iran’s latest moves. “Iran’s action is inconsistent with the JCPOA’s clear provisions on Fordow and has potentially severe proliferation implications,” the statement said. “We affirm our readiness to consider all mechanisms in the JCPOA, including the dispute resolution mechanism, to resolve the issues related to Iran’s implementation of its JCPOA commitments.”
Nov. 12 - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the European Union’s warning to Tehran over advancements of its nuclear program and accused the Europeans of failing to fulfill their commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Nov. 16 – Iran informed the IAEA that its stock of heavy water exceeded the 130 metric ton limit under the JCPOA. On the following day, the watchdog confirmed that the Heavy Water Production Plant was active and that Iran had 131.5 metric tons of heavy water. Heavy water is often used as a moderator to slow down reactions in nuclear reactors.
Nov. 18 – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would cancel sanctions waivers for projects at Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant effective December 15. “The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror is zero ... There is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site,” Pompeo said. The waivers had allowed foreign firms to work on Iran’s civil nuclear program without penalties.
Nov. 22 - The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Iran’s communications minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, for his role in internet censorship. Washington blamed Jahromi’s ministry for blocking internet access in the country for several days in November during widespread protests sparked by a sudden fuel price hike.
Nov. 27 - French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that Paris would consider activating the dispute mechanism of the 2015 nuclear deal, which could eventually trigger U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic. “Every two months, there is another dent (in the deal by Iran) to the point where today we ask ourselves, and I’m saying this very clearly, about the implementation of the dispute resolution mechanism that exists in the deal,” he said.
Dec. 3 - Rafael Mariano Grossi, the incoming chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said the agency was still awaiting an explanation from Tehran after detecting uranium at an undeclared site. Israel and the United States had urged the IAEA to investigate a “secret atomic warehouse,” which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed during his 2018 U.N. address. “The process continues,” Grossi said. “We have so far not received an entirely satisfactory reply from them, but the exchanges continue.”
Dec. 4 - President Rouhani said that Iran was still open to nuclear negotiations with the United States. He stipulated that Washington must first remove all sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic. “If America lifts the sanctions, we are ready to talk and negotiate, even at the level of heads of the 5+1 countries (major powers that were party to the 2015 nuclear deal),” Rouhani said.
Dec. 6 - European countries condemned Iran’s violations of the 2015 nuclear deal but said the JCPOA was “still alive.” During the nuclear discussions, Tehran told European powers that it would continue to breach the deal until it served Iran’s interests. Iran had breached the JCPOA at least four times since July.
Dec. 8 - Xiyue Wang, a U.S. citizen detained in Iran since August 2019, was released in exchange for Massoud Soleimani, an Iranian national held in an Atlanta prison for allegedly violating U.S. sanctions. Wang, a Princeton University graduate student, was arrested while conducting research in Iran on the administrative and cultural history of the late Qajar dynasty for his doctoral dissertation. President Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif thanked the Swiss for their help in arranging the trade.
Dec. 19 - President Rouhani said that Iran would begin to test a new type of advanced centrifuge. Use of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium would be a violation of the 2015 nuclear deal. Tehran had already breached the agreement five times since July 1. “We have had great achievements and today, Iranian new IR-6 centrifuges are working and models IR-9 are currently being tested.”
Dec. 20 — President Rouhani met with Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo to discuss deepening economic ties and tensions over the 2015 nuclear deal. Rouhani reportedly asked Abe to help maintain the 2015 nuclear deal, which the United States withdrew from in May 2018. Rouhani said that a sustainable deal could be secured through “the logic of negotiation and a win-win prospect.” Abe expressed concern over rising tensions in the Middle East and urged Iran to comply with the nuclear deal. He also urged Tehran to comply with investigations by the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
Jan. 3 - President Trump ordered an airstrike on a convoy of Iranian and Iraqi military leaders leaving Baghdad airport. The drone attack, launched on January 3 (January 2 U.S. time), killed seven people including General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC's elite Qods Force, and Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a Kataib Hezbollah leader. Muhandis was also the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella group of militias formed to fight ISIS. Many PMF militias have received arms, training and funding from Iran.
Jan. 5 - Iran announced that it would no longer abide by restrictions on uranium enrichment imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal. “The Islamic Republic of Iran, in the fifth step in reducing its commitments, discards the last key component of its operational limitations in the JCPOA, which is the limit on the number of centrifuges,” the government said. Tehran emphasized that all its actions were reversible and that it would return to the deal if sanctions would be lifted and its interests could be guaranteed. Iran said it would continue to cooperate with IAEA inspectors.
Jan. 8 - Iran fired more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops in retaliation for the U.S. killing of Soleimani. No U.S. or Iraqi personnel were harmed, according to initial reports. Iran was quick to claim responsibility for the attack on U.S. forces. But its foreign minister also emphasized that Tehran did not seek war.
Jan. 10 - President Trump issued an executive order authorizing sanctions “against any individual or entity operating in the construction, manufacturing, textiles, or mining sectors of the Iranian economy.” Mining and metals have historically been one of the regime's largest non-oil sources of export revenue, some 10 percent. The U.S. Treasury also blacklisted eight senior Iranian officials, including Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Shamkhani.
Jan. 14 - Britain, France and Germany triggered the dispute resolution mechanism under the 2015 nuclear deal. It was the strongest action taken by European powers to enforce the agreement. If Iran does not return to compliance, the process could result in the reimposition of U.N. sanctions and ensure that an arms embargo does not expire in October 2020. On the following day, President Rouhani responded defiantly. “In recent days I... made it clear to two European leaders that what we have done is reversible for one, and that everything we do regarding the nuclear issue is under the supervision of the IAEA,” Rouhani said. “If you take the wrong step, it will be to your detriment. Pick the right path. The right path is to return to the nuclear deal.”
Jan. 16 - President Rouhani announced that Iran had begun enriching more uranium than before the 2015 nuclear deal. He did not detail how much more uranium was being enriched. Rouhani added that the country’s nuclear program was better off today than before the deal.
Jan. 17 - The United States blacklisted a Revolutionary Guards commander for his involvement in the crackdown on demonstrators in November 2019. Brigadier General Hassan Shahvarpour “oversaw the massacre of 148 helpless Iranians in the Mahshahr region,” U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told reporters. Hook said information about Shahvarpour and other regime officials came from some 88,000 tips received by the State Department from Iranians.
Jan. 23 - The U.S. Treasury Department designated four companies accused of purchasing Iranian oil and petrochemical products in violation of U.S. sanctions. Two companies based in Hong Kong, one company based in Shanghai and another company based in Dubai allegedly helped Iran’s state-owned oil company export millions of dollars’ worth of petroleum products. The United States also sanctioned Ali Bayandrian, who is linked to Hong Kong-based Triliance Petroleum, and Zhiqing Wang, who has ties to Shandong Oiwangwa.
Jan. 25 - Ali Asghar Zarean, an aide to Iran’s nuclear chief, said the country had accumulated 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, far more than the 202.8-kilogram limit under the JCPOA. The announcement suggested Tehran had significantly ramped up enrichment since November, when the IAEA said the stockpile was 372.3 kilograms.
Jan. 30 - The United States announced sanctions on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and its chief, Ali Akbar Salehi. The AEIO “has played a big role in Iran breaching its key nuclear commitments [under the 2015 nuclear deal],” Hook said. “It has exceeded the limits on its uranium stockpile and enrichment levels. The head of AEOI personally inaugurated the installation of new advanced centrifuges to expand its uranium enrichment capacity.”
The United States also renewed sanctions waivers on Iran’s nuclear projects for 60 days. The waivers allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to continue work on the Arak heavy-water research reactor, the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the Tehran Research Reactor and several other joint initiatives.
Feb. 3 - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran would bar U.N. inspectors from nuclear facilities if the country were faced with “a new situation.” The warning came during a visit with the Josep Borrell, the new E.U. foreign affairs chief.
Rouhani added that Iran was willing to negotiate with European powers. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is still ready for interaction and cooperation with the European Union for resolving issues and, whenever the opposite side completely upholds their commitments, Iran will return to its commitments,” he said.
Feb. 4 - The European Union said that it would avoid sending a dispute over the 2015 nuclear deal to the U.N. Security Council. “We are in agreement not to go directly to a strict time limit which would oblige (us) to go to the Security Council,” said E.U. foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell during a two-day trip to Tehran. After Britain, France and Germany triggered the deal’s dispute mechanism, the parties technically had a 15-day period to resolve issues with Iran.
Feb. 20 - U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook announced sanctions on five key members of Iran’s Guardian Council, an unelected panel of twelve Islamic jurists and scholars. The council disqualified more than 9,000 out of the some 14,000 candidates who registered to run in parliamentary elections, scheduled for February 21. Hook dismissed the poll as “political theater” because “the real election took place in secret long before any ballots were cast.”
Feb. 25 - The U.S. State Department announced sanctions on 13 foreign companies and individuals for supporting Iran's missile program. The entities were based in China, Iraq, Russia, and Turkey. The State Department said that the action was based on a periodic review required under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act. “The imposition of sanctions against these foreign entities is consistent with our efforts to use all available measures to prevent Iran from advancing its missile capabilities,” the State Department said in a statement.
Mar. 3 - The IAEA released a pair of reports that lambasted Iran for violations of the JCPOA. In the first report, the U.N. nuclear watchdog found Iran had tripled its stockpile of low enriched uranium since its last quarterly report. The larger stockpile could shorten Iran’s breakout time – the time it would take to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. But the IAEA did not find evidence that Iran was taking steps toward producing a weapon. In the second report, the IAEA condemned Iran’s refusal to grant inspectors access to three sites of interest. The report said that it found evidence from early July 2019 that was consistent with efforts “to sanitize part of the location” to obscure nuclear material.
Mar. 17 - The State Department designated nine companies in South Africa, Hong Kong and China, as well as three Iranian nationals, for “the purchase, acquisition, sale, transport, or marketing of petrochemical products from Iran” in violation of U.S. sanctions. The Department of Commerce separately designated 18 corporations and six individuals— including five Iranian nuclear scientists — for assisting with Iran’s nuclear program, Pakistan’s unsafeguarded nuclear and missile programs, and Russian military modernization efforts.
Mar. 25 - Iran and seven other countries urged U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres to call for the immediate lifting of unilateral sanctions imposed mainly by the United States and the European Union. In a joint letter, the foreign ministers of China, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela said fighting the COVID-19 pandemic was “hard – if not impossible” under the limitations imposed by sanctions. They urged the U.N. chief to "reject the politicization of such a pandemic" and immediately call for the removal of the "illegal, coercive measures of economic pressure."
Mar. 26 - The United States sanctioned 20 individuals and companies for funneling money to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and transferring lethal aid to Iraqi militias backed by Iran. “Iran employs a web of front companies to fund terrorist groups across the region, siphoning resources away from the Iranian people and prioritizing terrorist proxies over the basic needs of its people,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
April 15 - The United States accused Iranian military vessels of conducting “dangerous and harassing” maneuvers close to U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Persian Gulf. A group of 11 speedboats belonging to the IRGC repeatedly approached six U.S. military vessels at close range and at high speeds, coming within 10 yards of one ship, the Pentagon said. The U.S. warships were conducting joint training operations with U.S. Army helicopters in international waters. The United States issued several warnings, including bridge-to-bridge radio communications, blasts from the ships’ horns, and soundwaves from long-range acoustic devices. The Iranian vessels left after an hour.
April 20 - Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Moallem in Damascus. The high-level meeting was Zarif’s first trip abroad in nearly two months and his first to Syria since April 2019. Assad expressed his “condolences” over the thousands of Iranians killed by the virus. Both Iran and Syria condemned the U.S. for not lifting its sanctions during a global pandemic.
May 19 - The U.S. Treasury sanctioned a China-based company for providing services to Mahan Air, an Iranian airline blacklisted in 2011 for supporting the elite Qods Force. Mahan Air has transported fighters, weapons, equipment and funds to support the Syrian regime and Iranian proxies across the Middle East, including Hezbollah. Shanghai Saint Logistics Limited was the seventh company sanctioned for acting as a general sales agent for Mahan Air.
May 20 - The United States sanctioned nine Iranian officials, including the interior minister, and three entities for human rights abuses. The new measures “send a message of support to the Iranian people that we will continue to support their demands for transparent and accountable governance and speak out for those who are being silenced by this regime,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The State Department imposed visa restrictions and the Treasury Department imposed financial sanctions.
May 27 - The Trump Administration announced that it would end waivers – or exemptions from U.S. sanctions – allowing British, Chinese and Russian companies to work at three Iranian nuclear sites. The work focused on ways to contain or limit Iran’s ability to use its nuclear program to build a bomb. The foreign projects were part of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s six major powers. Foreign companies involved were given 60 days to wind down activities on three projects—or face U.S. sanctions.
June 2 - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that Sirous Asgari, a scientist who had been imprisoned in the United States, was on a plane back to Iran. “Congratulations to his wife and his esteemed family,” he wrote on Instagram. Dr. Asgari was indicted in 2016 on charges of stealing trade secrets related to research he had done at Case Western Reserve University in 2012 and 2013. The scientist, an engineer who specializes in metals and materials, had been working on a project for the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research to create anti-corrosive stainless steel.
June 4 - Iran released Michael White, an American who had been detained for nearly two years. The U.S. Navy veteran was arrested on unspecified charges in July 2018 while visiting his girlfriend in Iran. In March 2019, White was sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the supreme leader and 10 years for posting a private photograph on social media. In March 2020, White – an immunocompromised cancer patient – was released from prison on medical furlough and transferred to a hospital with COVID-19 symptoms. As White was released, the United States freed an Iranian doctor, Majid Taheri, who was charged with violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. Prosecutors said he tried to export a filter to Iran that could be used for chemical and biological warfare. But Taheri, who also holds U.S. citizenship, claimed it was for vaccine research. He arrived in Iran on June 8.
June 8 - The United States expanded sanctions on Iran’s shipping industry. The Treasury Department blacklisted Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and its Shanghai-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping Company Ltd, along with more than 100 ships and tankers. “IRISL has repeatedly transported items related to Iran’s ballistic missile and military programs and is also a longstanding carrier of other proliferation-sensitive items,” including items that can be used in Iran’s nuclear program, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
August 14 - A U.S. resolution that would require all U.N. member states to indefinitely forbid the sale of conventional arms to Iran failed at the Security Council. The vote in the 15-member body was only two in favor (the United States and the Dominican Republic), two against (Russia and China), and 11 abstentions. To win passage, any Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the Council’s five permanent members—Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States.
August 17 - Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters to target U.S. forces and coalition troops in Afghanistan, CNN reported. The payments were linked to at least six attacks last year by the Haqqani network, including one on Bagram Air Base that killed two civilians.
Sept. 13 - As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden pledged that he would “offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy” if elected. “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations,” Biden wrote in September 2020. “With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” such as ballistic missiles and Iran’s regional proxies.
October 18 - The global ban on the sale of conventional arms to Iran expired and opened the way for the Islamic Republic to import weapons, including warplanes, helicopter gunships, missiles, tanks, artillery, and other weapon systems. The ban was imposed by U.N. Resolution 1929 in 2010. It was lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear deal—enshrined in U.N. resolution 2231—as one of the incentives for Tehran to cooperate on its nuclear program. Iran was also allowed to export its domestically produced arms for the first time in a decade.
Feb. 1 - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested that the European Union could “choreograph” moves by the United States and Iran to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). ”There can be a mechanism to basically either synchronize it or coordinate what can be done,” he told CNN.
Feb. 7 - President Biden reaffirmed in a CBS interview that his administration would not lift sanctions first to entice Iran back to the negotiating table.
Feb. 10 - Special Envoy for Iran Malley spoke with China’s vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, Beijing said in a phone call readout.
Feb. 18 - The Biden administration announced three opening moves to jumpstart diplomacy with Iran. The three moves were accepting an invitation from the E.U. to attend a meeting of the P5+1 countries, rescinding the Trump administration invocation of “snapback” sanctions at the United Nations, and lifting travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats in New York.
Feb. 19 - Tehran reacted coolly to the U.S. offer of talks and instead repeated its demand that Washington lift all sanctions imposed by the Trump administration between 2018 and 2021 as a precondition to roll back its breaches of the 2015 nuclear deal. “Gestures are fine. But to revive P5+1, US must Act: LIFT sanctions,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted. “Here is the key sequence: #CommitActMeet.
Feb. 28 - Iran rejected an E.U. offer to broker direct talks with the United States. “Given the recent moves and positions of the U.S. and the three European countries, the Islamic Republic doesn’t assess the timing of an informal meeting proposed by the E.U. coordinator as appropriate,” the foreign ministry said.
March 27: Iran and China signed a 25-year "strategic partnership" to deepen economic and security ties. The text of the agreement was not published, but a draft released in June 2020 indicated that Beijing would invest billions in exchange for a heavily discounted supply of Iranian oil. "We want China to continue to be a major trading partner to Iran and to have more cooperation in the field of joint ventures," President Hassan Rouhani said.
March 30 - The Biden administration would be willing to discuss a comprehensive “roadmap” for both the United States and Iran to fully return to the nuclear deal rather than limited initial steps, a U.S. official told Reuters. “If that’s what Iran wants to talk about, we are happy to talk about it,” the official said.
April 1 - The European Union said that it would host a virtual meeting to discuss the “possible return of the United States to the JCPOA” with the remaining five participants of the deal, including Iran. State Department spokesperson Ned Price welcomed the meeting as a “positive step, especially if it moves the ball forward on that mutual return to compliance.”
April 2 - The United States and Iran said that they would both attend diplomatic talks in Vienna the following week to discuss the JCPOA but would not meet directly. The Vienna meeting would focus on reaching two separate agreements: one with the United States on its timetable for lifting sanctions and one with Iran on its timetable for returning into compliance, The Wall Street Journal reported. Malley told PBS that the U.S. delegation would also push for the return of American detainees in Iran, "whatever happens on the nuclear side, whether we succeed or fail."
April 6 - Indirect talks between the United States and Iran began in Vienna. Two expert working groups were formed: one on the timetable for lifting U.S. sanctions on Iran, the other on reversing Iran's breaches of the nuclear deal. Araghchi said that negotiations were on "the right track," but that it was "too soon to say it has been successful."
April 9 - The first week of talks in Vienna concluded. No final agreement was reached, but participants agreed to reconvene the following week. The P4+1 "took stock of the work done by experts over the last three days and noted with satisfaction the initial progress made," Ambassador Ulyanov tweeted.
Iran and Saudi Arabia held direct talks five years after severing diplomatic relations. The talks in Baghdad were mediated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi. The Iran delegation was led by Saeed Iravani, deputy secretary of the Supreme National Security Council. The Saudi delegation was led by Khalid al Humaidan, the chief of intelligence. The discussion focused primarily on Yemen, where Riyadh and Tehran have backed opposing sides since the civil war erupted in 2014. The delegations also reportedly discussed the political and financial crisis in Lebanon, where Iran and Saudi Arabia back opposing political blocs.
April 15 - Indirect talks over getting the United State and Iran back into compliance with the JCPOA resumed in Vienna. In Tehran, President Rouhani reiterated that Iran was not seeking a nuclear weapon. “We can enrich 90 percent today, but we stand by our word and we are not looking for an atomic bomb,” he said during a cabinet meeting. “It is YOU who made and stockpiled the atomic bomb and are still making bombs. This is what YOU do. Do not accuse us of making bombs, Iran's activities are completely peaceful.”
April 20 - The Joint Commission created a third expert group "to start looking into the possible sequencing of respective measures" by the United States and Iran to reenter the JCPOA. Diplomatic talks in Vienna paused to give delegations time to consult with their capitals. Parties would resume discussions the following week. "There has been some progress, but there remains a long road ahead," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. "And I think it’s fair to say that we have more road ahead of us than we do in the rearview mirror."
April 21 - Iran and Saudi Arabia would hold a second round of direct talks in late April or early May, Reuters reported. The timing of the second meeting would depend on progress in Vienna negotiations between Iran and the six world powers on returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
April 27 - Talks resumed in Vienna for the third round.
May 1 - The Joint Commission wrapped up the third week of Vienna talks. "Moderate advances but with more detail comes more complexity," E.U. Coordinator Mora tweeted. "We will reconvene next week to continue." Ambassador Ulyanov said that participants aimed to complete talks to restore the JCPOA in three weeks.
May 2 - White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain denied media reports that Iran had agreed to release four American detainees. "We're working very hard to get them released," he said on CBS Face the Nation. "We raised this with Iran and our interlocutors all the time. But so far there's no agreement to bring these four Americans home."
May 6 - Talks resumed in Vienna for the fourth round.
May 10 - Iran confirmed that it was holding talks with Saudi Arabia. “We welcome resolving of the issues that have existed between the two countries,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Khatibzadeh said during a weekly press conference. “We will use our best efforts in this regard.”
May 10 – 20: Iranian leaders offered unequivocal support after Palestinian militants in Gaza fired rockets at Israeli cities, and Israel responded with airstrikes on May 10. Khamenei called on Palestinians to “confront the enemy” and “stand strong” against Israel. “One can only talk with the language of strength with these criminals,” he said in a video message on May 11. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif released a video in Arabic on May 11 condemning Israel as “racist” and calling for a “popular referendum” to determine the future of the Holy Land.
May 12 - Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran was "ready for close ties with Saudi Arabia" and that greater cooperation could help stabilize the region, including Yemen. His remarks followed a meeting with President Bashar al Assad during a visit to Syria. “I am sure our Syrian brothers have always welcomed cooperation in the Arab world," Zarif added. "And we are also in that mood.”
May 16 - Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Shamkhani said that Iran would work with its neighbors to bolster regional security. "We're ready to participate with the countries of region in a mechanism to create collective security as an infrastructure for development & welfare of their nations," he tweeted.
May 17: President Hassan Rouhani told Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi that he welcomes Baghdad's role as a regional mediator. "Dr. Rouhani also expressed support for Iraq's role in regional interactions as an important member country of the Arab League, welcoming Baghdad's positive role in intervening to resolve disputes among regional states," according to a phone call readout released by the president's office.
May 18 - The Saudi foreign minister expressed optimism about the talks with Iran, AFP reported. "We have initiated some exploratory talks," Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said while in Paris. "They are at a very early stage, but we are hopeful." The result of the Iranian presidential election, slated for June 18, was unlikely to affect the talks, he added. "Our understanding of Iran's foreign policy is that it's set by the Supreme Leader," he said. "So we don't think there will be a substantial change."
May 19 - The Joint Commission met in Vienna and concluded the fourth round of talks. "We’ve made good progress. An agreement is shaping up," Mora tweeted after the meeting. "Significant" progress was reached and an agreement was "within reach," according to Ambassador Ulyanov. "Hopefully the 5th round will be final," he tweeted.
May 20 - Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire that went into effect the next morning. On May 21, Khamenei congratulated the Palestinians on their “victory” over Israel. “Greetings to the heroic, resistant Gaza. Greetings to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all jihadi and political groups in Palestine,” he wrote. “The savage, wolf-like enemy has realized correctly that it is powerless when facing the unified uprising of Palestine.”
May 21 - Foreign Minister Zarif spoke with E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to discuss the state of the talks. "All sides now need to take necessary political decisions, so we can conclude negotiations & get back to full implementation," Borrell tweeted.
May 25 - Talks resumed in Vienna for the fifth round.
June 2 - The fifth round of talks in Vienna ended. Differences between the parties were "not insolvable," according to Iran's deputy foreign minister. "I do not think there will be much delay between today's meeting and the next round of talks," Araghchi said. "Like in the previous rounds, we will probably return to Vienna after consulting with our capitals."
June 12 - Talks resumed in Vienna for the sixth round.
June 18 - Araghchi met with IAEA chief Grossi in Vienna, according to Iran’s envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog. The pair discussed the latest developments around the JCPOA negotiations and possible assistance of the [IAEA]," Ambassador Gharibabadi tweeted.
June 20 - The sixth round of talks in Vienna concluded. Delegations returned to their respective capitals for consultations.
June 21 - President-elect Ebrahim Raisi warned that his administration would take a harder stand on diplomacy with the international community. “The world, particularly the West, should realize that the situation in Iran has changed through the people’s vote,” Raisi told reporters on June 21. He specifically rejected negotiations to limit either Iran’s regional role or its ambitious missile program, although he expressed support for the 2015 nuclear deal brokered with the world’s six major powers.
July 6 - An Iranian government spokesperson said that "good progress" had been achieved in talks with Saudi Arabia but cautioned against expecting a swift diplomatic breakthrough. "In some cases, disputes may have complexities that take time to resolve," Ali Rabiei told reporters.
July 7 - The State Department said that it had "every expectation that there will be a seventh round of talks" in Vienna. "The team continues to remain here, continues to engage in discussions, continues to do important work from the department, but that team will be ready, will be prepared to travel back to Vienna when there’s a seventh round of talks," department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington D.C.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hosted peace talks with Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban’s chief negotiator, and former Vice President Younus Qanooni representing the Kabul government. Zarif urged them to “take difficult decisions today for the future of their country.” Iran was “ready to assist the dialogue” and to “resolve the current conflicts in the country” following the “failure of the U.S. in Afghanistan,” he said. Zarif subsequently tweeted that the meeting had been “cordial” and promised Iran would stand with Afghans on their road to peace.
July 12 - The State Department said that the U.S. delegation was "prepared to return" to Vienna for a seventh round of talks "as soon as they are scheduled."
July 13 - Iran confirmed that it was negotiating a prisoner exchange with the United States. "Because of its humanitarian aims, Iran is ready to exchange all American political prisoners in exchange for the release of all Iranian prisoners who have been detained around the world at the behest of America," government spokesperson Ali Rabiei said.
July 14 - Iran informed European diplomats that it would not be ready to resume negotiations in Vienna until after Raisi was inaugurated as the new president in August, Reuters reported. "We were prepared to continue negotiating, but the Iranians requested more time to deal with their presidential transition," a State Department spokesperson said.
The State Department warned that the U.S. offer to return to the nuclear deal was not "indefinite" and urged a swift return to negotiations. "There will come a point where our calculus will change, where the gains that Iran is able to make in its nuclear program, the benefits it accrues might one day outweigh the benefit that the international community would accrue from a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA," Ned Price told reporters at a press briefing. "We’re not there yet, but that is why we believe we should...return to Vienna for these talks just as soon as we can.
July 17 - Araghchi said that Iran would not return to Vienna for a seventh round of talks until after Raisi’s inauguration. “We’re in a transition period as a democratic transfer of power is underway in our capital,” he tweeted. State Department spokesman Price condemned the delay as “outrageous.”
The delay also postponed a potential deal for the safe return of American and British detainees in Iran in exchange for Iranian detainees in the United States and Britain. Araghchi said that up to 10 prisoners “on all sides” could be released immediately, if the Biden administration made a decision to act. But State Department denied that any detainee exchange had been agreed. “We see just another cruel effort to raise the hopes of their families,” Price said.
July 30 - In one of his last acts as foreign minister, Zarif published a 204-page book titled “Documenting Six Years of Western (Non-) Implementation of the ‘Iran Nuclear Deal.’” The book included his last letter to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, dated July 20, in which he accused the United States and its “European accomplices” of failing to comply with the deal. Zarif claimed that the Britain, France, Germany and the United States were using economic pressure and blackmail to renegotiate provisions of the agreement, including the timetable for restrictions on Iran to expire.
August 4 - Deputy Foreign Minister Araghchi met with E.U. coordinator Mora in Tehran to discuss Afghanistan, E.U.-Iran relations and the nuclear talks in Vienna. Mora's "key priority is to resume negotiations in Vienna and facilitate the way back to full JCPOA implementation," E.U. external affairs chief Josep Borrell said.
August 8 - The U.N. secretary general’s envoy for Afghanistan, Jean Arnault, met with Zarif in Tehran. They agreed that intra-Afghan talks were the best way to stem the violence between Afghan government forces and the Taliban. Arnault said that Iran and other regional countries could play a key role in supporting the peace process.
August 5 – The United States called on Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, to resume talks on restoring full U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. “We urge Iran to return to the negotiations soon so that we can seek to conclude our work,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said. He added that the window of opportunity to return to the nuclear deal “won’t last forever,” reiterating a similar warning by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on July 29.
August 11 – President Raisi nominated Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, a hardliner, as his foreign minister. Amir-Abdollahian previously served as deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs and has close ties to the Revolutionary Guards, the Financial Times reported.
August 16 – Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged that he would "enrich" the 25-year strategic partnership between Beijing and Tehran that was signed in March 2021. "Since the establishment of diplomatic ties half a century ago, the relations between China and Iran have developed steadily and the traditional friendship between the two countries has grown stronger with time," Xi told President Raisi in a message.
August 17 – Iran was using a second cascade of centrifuges to enrich uranium to nearly weapons-grade level, the IAEA reported. Tehran added a cascade of 153 advanced IR-4 centrifuges to enrich uranium up to 60 percent, according to a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Uranium needs to be enriched up to 90 percent to fuel a nuclear bomb. In April, began enriching uranium to 60 percent, the highest level of enrichment that it has publicly acknowledged. In May, the IAEA had reported that Iran was using 164 IR-6 centrifuges to enrich uranium up to 60 percent.
August 23 – Iran announced that it would resume exporting fuel to Afghanistan at the Taliban’s request. The price of gasoline had exceeded $900 per ton in Afghanistan due to a spike in demand from Afghans fleeing Taliban-controlled cities.
August 25 – Israel claimed that the drone used to attack the Mercer Street, an oil tanker floating off the Omani coast, on July 29 was "launched from Iranian territory and approved by the Iranian leadership." Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz briefed foreign diplomats in Jerusalem on the drone attack, as well as Iran's doubling of military spending over the past five years.
August 28 – The new Raisi government’s first major foreign engagement was a regional conference in Iraq on August 28 that also included the presidents, kings or foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates; French President Emmanuel Macron also participated. The goal was to ease regional tensions, particularly between Iran and the Arab nations. Iran, which is predominantly Persian, is one of only two countries in the Middle East that is not ruled by Arabs. It was Amir-Abdollahian’s first trip abroad as foreign minister.
August 31 – Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian tweeted that he had a “positive” and “cordial” meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on the sidelines of the Baghdad Summit on August 28. “Iran and the UAE can take big steps toward cooperation and the realization of neighborhood policy and diplomacy.”
September 4 – In a televised interview, President Raisi expressed support for holding elections in Afghanistan. “A government should be established there which is elected by the votes and will of the people,” he said. Raisi called for “an end to the bloodshot and fratricide” in the wake of the Taliban takeover.
September 7 – The IAEA reported that Iran has continued to amass highly enriched uranium above the limits defined in the 2015 nuclear deal. The IAEA’s confidential quarterly report, seen by The Associated Press, stated that its verification and monitoring program was “seriously undermined” by Iran’s refusal, since February 2021, to allow inspectors’ full access to IAEA monitoring equipment.
September 8 – Secretary of State Blinken reiterated that Iran’s continued advances in nuclear technology could jeopardize the restoration of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “I’m not going to put a date on it, but we are getting closer to the point at which a strict return to compliance with the JCPOA does not reproduce the benefits that that agreement achieved,” he said.
September 12 – Iran and the IAEA reached an agreement that would allow the watchdog agency to service monitoring equipment at Iranian nuclear facilities. The IAEA had not had access to its equipment, including cameras, since May 25. It urgently needed to swap out memory cards to prevent any data gaps.
September 15 – Iran resumed commercial flights to Afghanistan. Iran had stopped flights in mid-August due to the chaotic security situation following the U.S. withdrawal and Taliban advances.
September 21 – President Raisi expressed support for diplomatic negotiations to restore full U.S. and Iranian compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. “We want nothing more than what is rightfully ours. We demand the implementation of international rules,” he said during his debut address to the United Nations. “All parties must stay true to the nuclear deal and the U.N. Resolution in practice.”
September 22 – British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met with Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian to demand the release of detained British nationals and to urge Iran to return to nuclear talks on restoring compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
September 27 – Iraqi officials said that Baghdad had hosted Iranian and Saudi officials for a fourth round of bilateral talks – the first round since President Raisi took office in August. The regional rivals severed diplomatic relations in 2016 after Saudi Arabia executed Nimr al Nimr, a popular local Shiite cleric, and Iranian protesters set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran in retaliation.
September 28 – Foreign Ministry spokesman Khatibzadeh rejected Azerbaijan’s concerns over military drills that Iran conducted along the shared border. He said the exercises were a matter of “sovereignty” and “national security.” Iran “will not tolerate the presence of the Zionist regime near our borders,” he said, an apparent reference to Azerbaijan’s close ties with Israel.
September 30 – Khamenei declared that Iran must “firmly block” the import of South Korean home appliances to protect Iranian producers. “The two [South] Korean companies...will break the back of domestic manufacturers, which have just started to stand on their own feet,” he wrote in a message to President Raisi. Khamenei appeared to be referring to Samsung and LG.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visited Bahrain and reportedly discussed cooperation on responding to Iranian drone attacks, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Lapid met with Bahrain’s king, prime minister and foreign minister. During the visit, Lapid toured the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. Iran criticized Bahrain for hosting the Israeli official. “It is unfortunate that Bahrain’s rulers ignore the Zionist regime’s daily crimes against the oppressed but resilient people of Palestine,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Khatibzadeh said. “This stain will not be erased from the reputation of Bahrain’s rulers.”
October 6 – Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian met with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow to discuss talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal as well as developments in Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Syria and Yemen. “Fortunately, ties between Tehran and Moscow are at the best level and I am confident that these relations will expand even more with the coming to office of the new government [in Tehran],” Lavrov said.
October 11 – Microsoft announced that hackers allegedly linked to Iran targeted more than 250 customers “with a focus on US and Israeli defense technology companies, Persian Gulf ports of entry, or global maritime transportation companies with business presence in the Middle East.” Less than 20 of the targets were breached since July. “Gaining access to commercial satellite imagery and proprietary shipping plans and logs could help Iran compensate for its developing satellite program,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
October 13 – Iran and Azerbaijan agreed to reduce tensions through dialogue. In a joint statement, their foreign ministers condemned “the harmful rhetoric observed recently, which does not correspond to the level of friendly relations between our countries.” In early October, Iran had held military drills near the shared border that surprised Azerbaijan. Iran also alleged that Israel, which supplies weapons to Azerbaijan, had deployed its forces in the country. Baku rejected the claim.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani called for dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Iran. “Iran is our neighbour, a player in our region … we cannot change geography. Our disagreements can be resolved around a table, they can’t be resolved by confrontation,” he told the Global Security Forum in Doha. He also expressed hope that the 2015 nuclear deal would be restored “to see that there is no risk of a nuclear race in our region.”
October 18 – Venezuelan Foreign Minister Felix Plasencia met with his Iranian counterpart, Amir-Abdollahian, as well as President Raisi, in Tehran. During a joint press conference, Amir-Abdollahian announced that the two countries would sign a 20-year agreement of cooperation “in the next few months.” A joint commission in Tehran would finalize the agreement by the end of 2021.
October 19 – IAEA chief Grossi said that the “stop-gap” measures on monitoring Iran’s nuclear facilities agreed to in February were no longer “intact.” In an interview with the Financial Times, Grossi said that Iran was not permitting surveillance cameras at the Tesa Karaj facility, which produces parts of centrifuges that can enrich uranium.
October 25 – Iran began feeding uranium gas enriched to 20 percent into a single IR-6 centrifuge at the Natanz facility outside Isfahan, the IAEA reported. Iran was already enriching small amounts of uranium to 60 percent purity—far above the cap of 3.67 percent set by the JCPOA—at Natanz. Iran was not retaining the enriched uranium, the agency noted, but the move prompted the IAEA to “increase the frequency and intensity of its safeguards activities” at the facility. Uranium enriched to 90 percent or above is considered weapons-grade.
October 27 – Iran’s lead negotiator announced a return to nuclear talks with the world’s six major powers by end of November. Ali Bagheri, the new deputy foreign minister, tweeted the announcement after meeting in Brussels with Enrique Mora, the E.U. coordinator for the talks.
Iran hosted the foreign ministers of the six countries bordering Afghanistan and Russia to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Ministers from Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan traveled to Tehran. The Chinese and Russian diplomats joined via video link. In a joint statement, the participants encouraged all Afghan parties, including the Taliban, to continue dialogue.
October 30 – President Biden and the leaders of Britain, France and Germany said that the 2015 nuclear deal could be restored quickly if Iran changes course. “We call upon President [Ebrahim] Raisi to seize this opportunity and return to a good faith effort to conclude our negotiations as a matter of urgency,” they said in a joint statement on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.
November 2 – Monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities was becoming increasingly difficult, warned Grossi, the head of the IAEA. “I would say we are flying in a heavily clouded sky,” he said. “We can continue in this way, but not for too long,” he added. Iran curtailed the watchdog’s access starting in February 2021.
November 8 – Foreign Ministry spokesperson Khatibzadeh outlined Iran’s demands for the United States ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks on November 29. Washington “must lift the oppressive sanctions completely and effectively.” And it must “guarantee that no administration in the United States mocks the world and international law” by abandoning the nuclear deal again.
November 9 – Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, in a phone call with his French counterpart, expressed a desire to expand bilateral ties. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that nuclear talks must resume where they left off on June 20.
November 17 – The United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) condemned Iran for supporting militias and proliferating weapons across the region. Ballistic missiles and drones “have been used by Iran or its proxies in hundreds of attacks against civilians and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and civilian merchant seamen in international waters of the Sea of Oman, and endangered American troops combatting ISIS,” the United States and the GCC said in a statement following a working group meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
November 18 – The United States sanctioned six Iranian men and one company, Emennet Pasargad, for attempting to interfere with the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Sectary of State Blinken said that the move represents “the collective efforts of the Department of the Treasury, the Department of State, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” The U.S. government “took decisive and disruptive action against those seeking to interfere with the sanctity of our elections,” he added.
November 22 – Bahrain’s interior ministry said that security forces had apprehended several individuals “linked with terrorist groups in Iran” and armed with weapons and explosives. The detained militants were allegedly “plotting terrorist operations against security and civil peace.”
November 24-26 – At the quarterly meeting of the IAEA, held from November 24 to 26, IAEA Director General Grossi told the 35-nation Board of Governors that his negotiations in Tehran on several outstanding disputes were “inconclusive.” Iran was stonewalling investigations into past activities and had turned back inspectors at a facility that manufactures parts for centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
November 29 – The world’s major powers and Iran opened the seventh round of talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. From April to June 2021, they held six rounds of talks. Diplomacy stalled in June during Iran’s presidential campaign and the political transition as Raisi took office and appointed his cabinet in August.
November 30 – The IAEA confirmed that Iran had begun to enrich uranium to 20 percent using advanced IR-6 centrifuges at Fordo, an underground facility near Qom. The 2015 nuclear deal banned uranium enrichment at the site until 2031.
December 6 – Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a senior Emirati national security advisor and brother of Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, met with Iranian counterpart Shamkhani and President Raisi in Tehran.
December 15 – Iran and the IAEA reached an agreement to allow the U.N. nuclear watchdog to replace surveillance cameras at the Karaj facility that produces parts for centrifuges. The compromise would still prevent the IAEA from reviewing the footage—or knowing the status of Iran’s technological advances since February 2021.
January 3 – The eighth round of diplomatic talks to return Iran and the United States to full compliance with the nuclear deal resumed after a brief pause for the New Year holiday. On the second day of talks, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Iran “to engage in good faith.” In a statement, he warned that “time is running out to reach an agreement.”
January 4 – The South Korean foreign ministry announced that a delegation would visit Vienna to “explore ways to resolve the issue” of the $7 billion in Iranian assets frozen in South Korean banks due to U.S. sanctions. The delegation was due to hold consultations with Iran, the United States, the European Union and European powers on the sidelines of the ongoing nuclear talks.
January 8 – Iran sanctioned 51 Americans for involvement in the U.S. assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Qods Force. Soleimani was widely considered the mastermind behind Iranian interventions in the region and support for military proxies. He was killed in a drone strike shortly after he arrived in Baghdad to meet Iraqi allies on January 3, 2020.
January 9 – Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian hosted Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Taliban’s acting foreign minister, in Tehran. Amir-Abdollahian reiterated Iran’s call for an inclusive government that reflects Afghanistan’s diverse religious and ethnic groups.
January 10 – Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian traveled to Muscat, Oman, where he discussed ways to boost bilateral relations with his counterpart Badr bin Hamad al Saeedi. Amir-Abdollahian also met Mohammed Abdulasalam, the chief negotiator of Yemen’s National Salvation Government, which is supported by the Houthis, a rebel group backed by Iran.
January 11 – In Doha, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani expressed their willingness boost regional cooperation. They discussed issues of common interest, including the talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, the war in Yemen and the situation in Afghanistan.
January 17 – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Khatibzadeh announced that three Iranian diplomats had recently arrived in Saudi Arabia, where they will represent Iran at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s headquarters in Jeddah. The dispatch of diplomats followed four rounds of talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia since April 2021, five years after the regional rivals severed diplomatic relations.
January 19 – Iranian President Raisi arrived in Moscow to discuss expanding bilateral ties with Russia. In wide-ranging talks with President Vladimir Putin, Iran and Russia discussed cooperation on trade, banking, transportation, energy, regional security, and more. “We in Iran have no limits for expanding ties with Russia,” Raisi said during a three-hour meeting at the Kremlin. Putin noted that bilateral trade increased by 38 percent in 2021. He said that the two nations were “doing much” to create a free trade zone between Iran and the five countries in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.
January 21 – Secretary of State Blinken warned that time was running out for restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. “The talks with Iran about a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA have reached a decisive moment. If a deal is not reached in the next few weeks, Iran’s ongoing nuclear advances will make it impossible to return to the JCPOA.”
February 8 – The eighth round of talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal resumed in Vienna. The negotiations had paused for 10 days to allow diplomats to return to their capitals for consultations.
February 23 – Omani Foreign Minister Badr bin Hamad Albusaidi arrived in Tehran for talks with Iranian leaders on expanding bilateral relations. “Our relations with Oman are good, but in the field of economic and trade issues there is room for further development,” President Raisi told the diplomat.
March 8 – In a joint statement, Britain, France and Germany called on “all sides to make the decisions necessary to close this deal now, and on Russia not to add extraneous conditions to its conclusion.” Russia was “trying to up the ante and broaden its demands,” Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “And we are not playing 'Let's Make a Deal'.” The Russian delegation in Vienna reportedly presented written demands to the E.U. delegation, including that Russian trade with Iran be exempt from sanctions, according to The Wall Street Journal.
March 13 – Iran launched a dozen ballistic missiles into neighboring Iraq. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claimed that it targeted Israeli “strategic centers” in the northern city of Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region. Iraqi and U.S. officials said that the attack was unjustified.
March 16 – Iran released two British-Iranian detainees, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori. They were both allowed to leave Iran following months of quiet diplomacy and Britain’s payment of a longstanding $524 million debt. A third detainee, Morad Tahbaz, who is also a U.S. citizen, was released from prison on furlough.
March 28 – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Khatibzadeh condemned the Negev Summit held in Israel. Foreign ministers from Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, and the United Arab Emirates as well as the United States and Israel participated in the historic event.
April 4 – Tehran blamed Washington for the pause in talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. “If there’s a pause in the Vienna talks, that’s because of the excessive U.S. demands,” Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian tweeted.
April 25 – Iran called for a face-to-face meeting “as soon as possible” to finalize an agreement on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. “It is not yet decided where and when to have this meeting and at what level it should be held, but it is on the agenda,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Khatibzadeh said. Negotiators from the world’s six major powers and Iran left Vienna in March and hadyet to reconvene.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Khatibzadeh confirmed that Iran and Saudi Arabia held a fifth round of talks in Baghdad on April 21. “The talks were progressive and positive,” he said. On the same day, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said that the two countries agreed on a 10-point memorandum of understanding. He did not provide specifics but said that officials “discussed the continuation of the ceasefire in Yemen” and that they agreed to hold another round of talks at the “diplomatic level.”
April 26 – Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Khatibzadeh confirmed that Iran’s embassy in Kabul had received Taliban diplomats. But he said that Iran still had not formally recognized the Taliban government.
May 23 – President Raisi arrived in Oman to deepen bilateral ties. In a meeting with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Raisi said that Iran considers Oman a “friend” and “brother.” Officials inked a dozen agreements on energy, trade, transportation, science, sports, and more during the one-day visit.
May 26 – Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian said that Iran had presented a “new initiative” to the United States, through intermediaries, to restore the 2015 nuclear deal. The diplomat acknowledged, however, that both governments faced domestic challenges in reviving the deal.
June 6 – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates sanctioned three Iranians for helping fund the Qods Force, which conducts the external operations of the Revolutionary Guards, and Hezbollah, a Lebanese political party and militia.
June 8 – The Board of Governors of the U.N. nuclear watchdog passed a resolution that formally censured Iran for failing to explain traces of uranium at three undeclared sites that date back to a covert program before 2003.
June 9 – Iran will remove “basically all” the extra monitoring equipment, including 27 cameras, installed as part of the 2015 nuclear deal, the U.N. nuclear watchdog announced. Three days later, IAEA Director General Grossi warned that the agency may not be able to verify the nature or scope of Iran’s nuclear program if it does not restore the cameras.
June 13 – Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned that Iranian agents were plotting to kidnap or murder Israeli citizens in Istanbul, a popular vacation destination.
June 15 – President Raisi and his Turkmen counterpart President Berdimuhamedow observed the signing of nine agreements to expand bilateral cooperation on economic, trade, cultural, environmental, scientific, and transportation issues.
June 16 – The United States sanctioned a network smuggling Iranian petrochemical products. The goods were exported to China and other countries in East Asia.
June 28 – After a three-month pause, Iran and the United States resumed indirect talks on restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. E.U. diplomat Mora shuttled messages back and forth between the sides in Doha, Qatar.
Iran applied to join the group known as the "BRICS", which stands Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Members of BRICS account for about 26 percent of the world's economy and more than 40 percent of the world's population.
June 29 – The talks in Doha ended with no breakthrough. “Unfortunately, not yet the progress the EU team as coordinator had hoped-for,” Mora tweeted. “We will keep working with even greater urgency to bring back on track a key deal for non-proliferation and regional stability.” A U.S. official said that the Iranians “raised old issues that have been settled for months, and even raised new issues that are unrelated to the 2015 nuclear agreement.”
July 6 – The United States sanctioned a network that smuggled hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products to East Asia.
July 14 – In his first trip to the Middle East as president, Biden renewed his pledge to never allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. “There will be no nuclear Iran. This is not only a threat to Israel, but to the world,” Biden said. During the four-day tour, Biden visited Iran’s main regional rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
July 19 – Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Tehran to boost ties with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts. The trip came just three days after President Biden toured the region to rally support against Iran. “We can boast record figures in trade growth,” Putin said at the start of his meetings. “We are strengthening our cooperation on international security and making a tangible contribution to settling the Syrian conflict.”
The National Iranian Oil Company and Russia’s Gazprom signed a memorandum of understanding reportedly worth some $40 billion. Gazprom said it would help develop two natural gas fields, and six oil fields, pipelines, and other infrastructure.
August 3 – E.U. diplomat Mora said that he was traveling to Vienna to convene a new round of talks based on Borrell’s text. Robert Malley, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, said that he was heading to Vienna with expectations “in check.” Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s chief negotiator, said that the onus was still on the United States.
August 10 – The Justice Department announced charges against an Iranian national for plotting to murder John Bolton, who served as national security advisor to President Trump from 2018 to 2019.
August 15 – Iran sent a response to the European Union’s latest draft text to restore the 2015 nuclear deal. “There are three issues that if resolved, we can reach an agreement in the coming days,” Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian said.
September 6 – Albania severed diplomatic ties with Iran and accused it of carrying out an extensive cyberattack on Albanian institutions on July 15. Tehran tried to “paralyze public services and hack data and electronic communications from the government systems,” Prime Minister Edi Rama said in a statement. The two countries had had a contentious relationship since 2014, when the Balkan country allowed some 3,000 members of Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian opposition group, to resettle there at the request of the United States and the United Nations.
September 7 – Iran had enriched enough uranium to 60 percent purity that, if enriched to 90 percent, could be used to fuel a nuclear bomb, according to a U.N. nuclear watchdog report.
September 8 – The United States sanctioned four Iranian companies and a defense contractor for providing drones to Russia for use in Ukraine.
September 9 – The United States sanctioned Iran’s intelligence ministry and minister for cyberattacks against the United States and its allies.
September 10 – Britain, France and Germany warned that the intense international diplomacy to revive the 2015 nuclear deal was in grave jeopardy because Tehran had abruptly backtracked from compromises in the final draft. A month earlier, the European coordinator had offered proposals “that took us to the limit of our flexibility” with Iran, the statement said. “Unfortunately, Iran has chosen not to seize this critical diplomatic opportunity,” which raised “serious doubts” about its “intentions and commitments to a successful outcome.”
September 13 – The State Department confirmed that it had “provided feedback” to the latest Iranian response to the draft deal to restore the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran’s response was a “step backwards in many ways,” Spokesperson Ned Price said, without providing details. “This is a negotiation. There are going to be back-and-forths.”
September 14 – The United States sanctioned 10 Iranian men and two companies for hacking computer systems and installing ransomware, which can prevent victims from getting access to their files and data unless they pay a ransom to the hackers. Concurrently, the Justice Department charged three of the men sanctioned by the Treasury for a scheme to hack computer systems of hundreds of victims in the United States, Britain, Israel, Iran, and elsewhere.
September 21 – During his in-person debut at the U.N. General assembly, President Raisi declared that U.S. power and influence were waning. The United States “keeps equivocating militarism with security and has pursued its interests in the world at the expense of other countries.” Washington “cannot accept the fact that certain countries have the right to stand on their own two feet.”
September 22 – The United States sanctioned Iran’s morality police and seven senior security officials for the death of Mahsa Amini and violence against protestors. The 22-year-old woman was detained in Tehran on September 13 for an “improper” hijab, or head covering. She was allegedly beaten and then died in custody three days later.
October 3 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed widespread protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained for an “improper” head covering, on the United States and Israel. “These riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees,” he said in his first public comments on the demonstrations.
President Biden endorsed Iran’s protests and pledged to impose “further costs” on the government for its crackdown after the death of Mahsa Amini. “The United States stands with Iranian women and all the citizens of Iran who are inspiring the world with their bravery,” he said in a statement.
October 12 – Siamak Namazi, an Iranian American, was taken back to Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison. He had been granted a one-week furlough that was renewed on October 8 so that he could see his father, Baquer Namazi. Iran allowed the elder Namazi, who was detained for six and a half years, to leave the country to seek medical treatment.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the United States was not focused on stalled talks on restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The Iranians “have made very clear that this is not a deal that they have been prepared to make,” he told reporters. The focus was on spotlighting the “remarkable bravery and courage that the Iranian people are exhibiting through their peaceful demonstrations” following the death of Mahsa Amini.
October 17 – The European Union imposed new sanctions on 11 Iranians and four institutions, including the morality police, for human rights violations. “Unanimous decision today to take action against those in Iran responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini and violent repression of peaceful protests,” E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted. “The EU will always act against serious human rights violations.”
E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed pessimism about restoring the 2015 nuclear deal. “I don’t expect any move, that’s a pity because we were very, very close,” he said.
October 18 – Ukraine’s foreign ministry proposed cutting ties with Iran for supplying drones to Russia. “The actions of Iran are vile and deceitful,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. “We won’t suffer them, because all those actions were done while Iran told us that they didn’t support the war and won’t support any of the sides with their weapons.”
Iran sanctioned several British entities–including BBC Persian, Iran International, the National Cyber Security Centre of Britain, and the British Government Communications Headquarters–for supporting protests. It also sanctioned nine individuals, including government officials and military commanders.
The United States, Britain, and France charged that Iran violated U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 by exporting drones to Russia with a range of 300 kilometers or more. The Western powers made the accusation during a closed-door Security Council meeting.
October 26 – Iran sanctioned eight European entities and 12 people – including media outlets, politicians, news editors – in response to the European Union’s imposition of sanctions on October 17 over Iran’s crackdown on protestors.
The United States sanctioned 14 senior officials—including Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commanders, intelligence and police officials, prison administrators, and a governor—from at least five provinces. It also designated an internet surveillance company, a prison, and a cybersecurity training institute for their roles in censorship, surveillance, and broad human rights violations during the 2022 protests or a previous demonstration in 2021.
October 28 – The United States sanctioned Iran’s 15 Khordad Foundation for offering a $3.3 million bounty for the murder of Salman Rushdie, the British-American author of “The Satanic Verses.” Thirty-four years after his book was published, Rushdie was attacked while giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York on Aug. 12, 2022.
November 14 – The European Union and Britain imposed sanctions on dozens of senior Iranian government and security officials for the brutal crackdown on protests following the death of Mahsa Amini on September 16.
November 15 – The United States imposed sanctions on Iranians and Russians involved in the export of drones used in Ukraine. The State and Treasury Departments designated three Iranian entities, a Russian paramilitary, two Russian nationals, and two transportation firms based in the United Arab Emirates.
November 17 – The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors urged Iran to explain traces of uranium at three undeclared sites that date back to a covert program before 2003. The resolution – drafted by the United States, Britain, France and Germany – passed 26 to 2, with five abstentions and two countries absent.
The United States sanctioned an international network of companies for smuggling Iranian petroleum and petrochemical products.
November 22 – Iran announced that it had started enriching uranium to 60 percent purity – a technical step away from 90 percent purity, or weapons-grade – at Fordow, an underground nuclear facility. The move came in response to a resolution passed by the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors on November 17.
November 28 – Iran “will have no cooperation” with a U.N. investigation into the crackdown on protesters, foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said. Member states had voted on November 24 to create the fact-finding mission, which Iran alleged was politicized.
December 12 – The European Union sanctioned 20 Iranian individuals, mostly security officials, and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting for human rights abuses amid the crackdown on protests.
Britain sanctioned four Iranian businessmen and officials involved in producing or supplying drones to Russia for use against Ukraine. It also sanctioned 12 Russian military commanders.
Iran’s foreign ministry announced sanctions on 13 British individuals and entities as well as 10 E.U. individuals and five entities for allegedly interfering in Iran's domestic affairs.
Iran’s foreign ministry summoned China’s ambassador to express “strong dissatisfaction” with a joint statement issued by China and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The statement, released after Xi Jinping met with GCC leaders on December 9, called for a diplomatic solution to a territorial dispute over three islands claimed by Iran and the United Arab Emirates. The islands are “inseparable parts of Iran’s pure soil” Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian tweeted.
December 12-13 – The European Union and Britain separately imposed punitive sanctions on dozens of Iranian security and government officials as well as state media employees for the brutal crackdown on nationwide protests ignited on September 16.
December 14 – Iran and Russia signed an agreement to cooperate in the space industry, including on the construction and launching of satellites. The move followed a joint launch of an Iranian satellite in August 2022.
The U.N. Economic and Social Council removed Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women. The United States had submitted the motion in response to Iran’s repression of women and girls, including protesters in 2022. No country had ever been ousted from the panel before.
December 20 – A video of President Biden during a November 3 election rally saying the nuclear deal was “dead” spread on social media. “It is dead, but we are not gonna announce it. Long story,” Biden said in California.
E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and E.U. nuclear negotiator Mora met with Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollian and Foreign Ministry Political Deputy Ali Bagheri in Jordan. Borrell said that the European Union and Iran “must keep communication open” and restore the 2015 nuclear deal based on the Vienna negotiations.
January 6 – The United States sanctioned six executives of an Iranian firm that produced drones exported to Russia for use against Ukraine. It also sanctioned the director of an organization that managed Iran’s ballistic missile program.
January 10 – The Iranian Trade Promotion Organization (TPO) announced that Iran had opened eight business centers across Africa, including in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria, and South Africa. Iran planned to continue strengthening trade relations with the continent as well as establish a “direct airline between Iran and South Africa…by the end of the year,” said TPO Africa Office Director General Mohammad Sadeq Qanadzadeh.
January 11 – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Raisi discussed energy and transportation cooperation in a call. "Expanding the capacities and cooperation of the two countries, including in the field of transit and energy, is beneficial to the economies of the entire Eurasian region," Putin said.
January 23 – The United States, Britain, and the European Union sanctioned Iran for its crackdown on protesters. U.S. sanctions largely targeted the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Britain imposed sanctions on five individuals and two entities. The European Union targeted 30 Iranians, including IRGC officials.
January 25 – Iran sanctioned 34 British and E.U. officials and entities. The move came in response to new British and E.U. sanctions over the government crackdown on protesters.
Iran had processed “enough nuclear material for several nuclear weapons–not one at this point,” said Grossi, director general of the IAEA Iran had enriched 70 kilograms of uranium to 60 percent purity and had another 1,000 kilograms enriched at 20 percent purity, he added.
January 30 – Iran and Russia signed an agreement to connect their interbank communication and transfer systems in an effort to skirt international sanctions. Both Iran and Russia had been disconnected from the international SWIFT financial messaging service by U.S. sanctions.
February 3 – The United States sanctioned eight executives of Paravar Pars Company, which manufactures suicide drones for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The IRGC exported hundreds of the Shahed-series drones to Russia for use against Ukraine.
February 13 – Venezuela and Iran reportedly finalized an agreement to build two oil tankers at an Iranian shipyard for PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-run energy company. The two countries had an existing deal that was delayed due to logistical and payment issues. The two tankers, India Urquia and India Mara, will each cost some $33 million. The Iran Marine Industrial Company will build the ships in Bushehr, Iran.
February 14 – President Raisi began a three-day trip to China to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, business leaders in China, and Iranian expatriates. During Raisi’s three-day visit to Beijing, the two countries signed 20 agreements—including on trade, transportation, information technology, tourism, agriculture, and crisis response—that could be worth billions of dollars. China would invest in joint projects, including a high-speed rail system linking Tehran and Mashhad and improvements to Imam Khomeini Airport. The trip was the first state visit to China by an Iranian president in two decades. Raisi brought Iran’s central bank governor as well as the ministers of economy, petroleum, foreign affairs, trade, transport and urban development, and agriculture.
February 15 – The United States and Iran were reportedly participating in indirect prisoner exchange negotiations. At least three U.S. citizens and a number of permanent U.S. residents were in detention in Iran. The potential agreement would include the release of billions of dollars of Iranian funds frozen by sanctions in South Korea.
February 16 – The United States and the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) condemned Iran for its disruptive behavior in the region and committed to expand defense cooperation to deter Tehran. The GCC, formed in 1981, includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
February 20 – The European Union and Britain separately imposed punitive sanctions on dozens of Iranian government and security officials for serious human rights violations, particularly during the protests that broke out in September 2022.
February 25 – The European Union sanctioned seven Iranian weapons manufacturers and four men in Iran for supplying drones to Russia, which were used to attack government and civilian targets in Ukraine.
February 26 – Brazil permitted two Iranian navy warships, the IRIS Makran and IRIS Dena, to dock in a Brazilian port. In January, the Brazilian government had blocked the ships from docking before President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's meeting with President Biden. But Brazil allowed the ships to dock in Rio de Janeiro between February 26 and March 4.
February 28 – Iran could produce enough material to make a nuclear weapon “in about 12 days,” said Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl in House testimony.
March 1 – Iran expelled two German diplomats a week after Germany expelled two employees at Tehran’s embassy in Berlin. Germany had condemned Iran after the judiciary sentenced Jamshid Sharmahd, a German-Iranian citizen and activist, to death.
March 7 – Iran transferred more than 400 Afghan prisoners to the Taliban government on March 6 and March 7. The move followed a visit by the Taliban’s attorney general in February. The Taliban foreign ministry described the transfer as a “a positive step toward deepening and strengthening relations and cooperation” between the Afghan and Iranian governments.
March 4 – Iran pledged to cooperate with a U.N. probe into traces of uranium at three undeclared sites that date back to a covert program before 2003. Tehran also promised to reinstall monitoring equipment, including cameras, that had been removed from nuclear facilities in June 2022. The IAEA and Iran “put a tourniquet on the bleeding of information and lack of continuity of knowledge,” Grossi, the head of the IAEA, said after two days of talks in Tehran.
March 8 – To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, the United States, Britain, the European Union, and Australia imposed sanctions on more than a dozen Iranian government and security officials, business leaders, companies, and government institutions for human rights abuses of women and girls.
March 10 – Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore diplomatic ties seven years after severing relations. The regional rivals committed to reopening embassies in Tehran and Riyadh by May 2023. The deal, brokered by China, also included the implementation of a security cooperation agreement signed in 2001 and a 1998 pact to enhance cooperation on trade, investment, technology, and culture.
March 13 – President Raisi met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. During the Lukashenko's visit, Iran and Belarus signed an agreement to enhance bilateral cooperation.
March 20 – The European Union sanctioned eight men and one organization, and Britain designated seven men for human rights abuses, particularly during the nationwide protests that erupted in September 2022.
March 23 – Russia was Iran’s largest foreign investor, Finance Minister Ehsan Khandouzi said. Russia had invested $2.76 billion in Iran during the financial year that ended in March 2023.
March 28 – Greek police arrested two men who were allegedly plotting attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets, including a Kosher restaurant in Athens, on behalf of Iran.
April 4 – Iranian and Saudi officials announced they will seek to establish a joint chamber of commerce. “A joint chamber of commerce between the two countries will soon be established, and it will be a useful step to advance the economic goals of Iran and Saudi Arabia,” said Keyvan Kashefi, a member of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce.
Iran appointed Reza Amiri as its new ambassador to the United Arab Emirates following eight years without Iranian diplomatic representation in the Gulf country. The move came less than a month after Iran and Saudi Arabia announced their rapprochement.
April 6 – The Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers met in Beijing, facilitated again by China. Their joint statement included the following points:
- Expand the “scope of co-operation, and contribute to achieving security, stability and prosperity in the region”
- Reopen open embassies in Riyadh and Tehran and general consulates in Jeddah and Mashhad
- Resume technical coordination to resume flights and facilitate the issuing of visas
- Affirm “readiness to do everything possible to overcome any obstacles facing the promotion of co-operation”
Azerbaijan expelled four Iranian diplomats during a period of escalating tensions between the two countries. In January, Azerbaijan had closed its embassy in Tehran after a gunman killed the Azeri head of security. Iran has also criticized Azerbaijan’s recent decision to establish an embassy in Israel.
April 10 – Iran announced that flights between Tehran and Riyadh had resumed, the latest sign of the thaw in relations between the two regional rivals.
April 11 – Iran waived visas for Chinese tourists during a visit by a Chinese tourism delegation. “In order to boost the attraction of tourists from China, the government of Iran has always been trying to [facilitate] the entry of visitors,” said Ali Asghar Shalbafian, the deputy minister of cultural heritage, tourism and handicrafts.
April 12 – A delegation arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to prepare Iran's embassy for reopening. “The Iranian delegation will take the necessary measures in Riyadh and Jeddah to set up the embassy and consulate general,” said Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kanaani.
April 13 – The foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, China, and Pakistan met in Uzbekistan to discuss shared interests in Afghanistan. They urged the Taliban to govern inclusively and not suppress women and minorities. The four countries called on the Taliban to “take tangible action in fighting against terrorism and eliminating terrorist groups in the country.”
April 18 – The G7 countries and the European Union criticized Iran’s “unabated escalation” of its nuclear program and proliferation of weapons to militant proxies, Russia and others. The world’s most advanced economies also called on the Iranian government to end its crackdown on protesters, women, girls, minorities, and journalists.
April 19 – The United States sanctioned an Iranian man and six companies based in Iran, China, Hong Kong, and Malaysia that procured electronic components for Iran’s drone and military programs.
April 24 – The United States, Britain, and the European Union sanctioned more than a dozen Iranian government and security officials, particularly those linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as a mobile service provider. The listed men and company had suppressed and censored Iranians during nationwide protests that erupted in September 2022.
April 26 – The Belgian government announced that it would not release an Iranian diplomat from prison. The announcement came after the Belgian Constitutional Court backed a prisoner swap in which the diplomat, Asadollah Assadi, would be swapped for Olivier Vandecasteele, a Belgian aid worker detained in the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s judiciary upheld the death sentence for Jamshid Sharmahd, a German-Iranian dual-national and permanent U.S. resident. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock criticized the decision, describing it as “unacceptable” and calling on Iran “to reverse this arbitrary sentence immediately.” Sharmahd had been convicted for alleged links to a 2008 bombing at a mosque that killed more than a dozen people.
April 27 – The United States announced new sanctions on Iran for taking Americans and Iranian-Americans hostage. The Treasury Department specifically designated four senior officials in the IRGC Intelligence Organization.
May 1 – The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate passed “The Solidifying Iran Sanction Act,” a bipartisan bill which extended the Iran Sanctions Act set to expire in 2026. “The Iran Sanctions Act is one of the most important tools in U.S. law to compel Iran to abandon its dangerous and destabilizing behavior,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) who sponsored the bill. “This bill takes the long overdue step of striking the arbitrary sunset from the law, so that sanctions will only be lifted if Iran stops its threatening behavior. Iran can’t run out the clock on U.S. law.”
Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval traveled to Iran to meet with Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Shamkhani, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and President Raisi. Doval and Shamkhani issued a joint statement pledging to “jointly face global and regional challenges.” They emphasized their shared goal to complete construction of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and other transportation routes to promote regional integration.
May 3 – President Raisi traveled to Syria to meet with President Bashar al Assad. “Many regional and extra-regional changes have failed to impact the brotherly relations between the two countries and Iran and Syria proved they were right in their positions,” said President Raisi. His trip to Syria, one of Iran’s few allies, was the first made by an Iranian president to Syria since 2010, the year before the civil war broke out. Raisi and al Assad signed 15 cooperation agreements, including long-term oil and trade agreements, which emphasized the “comprehensive plan of strategic and long-term cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic.
May 16 – Azerbaijan arrested at least nine Azeris accused of collaborating with Iran and planning assassinations. Azerbaijan’s interior ministry accused the group of plotting a “violent overthrow of the government and the assassinations of prominent personalities and senior officials.”
May 20 – The G7 countries criticized Iran for nuclear advances, human rights violations, weapons proliferation, and disrupting international shipping.
May 22 – After a decade surviving Iran’s fractious politics, Ali Shamkhani was removed as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), the highest body in charge of foreign policy and national security, on May 22. The former rear admiral, a young hero during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war who rose to become minister of defense in the 1990s, had served three presidents from rival factions as head of the SNSC. He was pushed aside in favor of Rear Admiral Ali Akbar Ahmadian, a senior Revolutionary Guards officer.
May 23 – President Raisi met with his Indonesian counterpart, Joko Widodo, during a visit to Jakarta. The two discussed rising security threats, export and investment opportunities in Iran, and expressed a desire to increase the value of their mutual trade by $20 billion. The two also finalized a long-term Preferential Trade Agreement, as well as 10 other agreements.
May 24 – A Chinese firm agreed to construct a 3,500-kilometer (2,175-mile) road between Iran and Russia. Jilin Jinguan Electric Co Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Middle East that also outlined the building of $9.8 billion worth of energy facilities, including 3,400 charging stations.
Late May – Clashes erupted between Iran and Afghanistan after President Raisi charged that the Taliban government was restricting access to water from the Helmand River. The 621-mile-long river flows across Afghanistan and empties into lakes and wetlands in southeastern Iran used by hundreds of thousands of people. At least three border guards—two Iranians and one Taliban fighter—were killed during the fighting. The tensions coincided with a diplomatic standoff. On May 25, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian said that the Islamic Republic of Iran still did not recognize Taliban rule in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
May 30 – President Raisi had instructed the foreign ministry to restore diplomatic ties with Egypt, Iranian government spokesperson Ali Bahadari Jahormi said. The announcement came one day after Supreme Leader Khameini backed rapprochement with Egypt during a meeting with Omani Sultan Haytham bin Tareq Al Said.
May 31 – Tehran’s stockpile of 60-percent enriched uranium had grown to 114.1 kilograms (251 pounds), a 25-percent increase since February 2023, according to an IAEA report. But Tehran also expanded cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog by granting permission for it to install cameras at the centrifuge production facility in Isfahan, according to a second report. Iran also allowed the installation of monitoring equipment at Fordo, a uranium enrichment facility buried under the mountains near Qom, and Natanz, another enrichment site.
The IAEA also closed two probes. It had no further questions about uranium particles enriched to 83.7 percent that were discovered in January 2023. The IAEA also stopped its investigation into uranium traces found at Marivan, a site 325 miles southwest of Tehran allegedly connected to Iran’s pre-2003 nuclear weapons program.
June 1 – The United States sanctioned five Iranian men and a Turkish airline for plotting terrorist attacks and assassinations targeting former U.S. officials, U.S.-Iranian citizens, dissidents, and journalists.
June 2 – Iran freed one Danish and two Austrian citizens as part of a prisoner swap, according to Danish and Austrian officials. Iranian media did not immediately release a statement or explain what had been granted in return.
U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley had held several meetings with Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Amir Saeid Iravani, according to a report from the Financial Times. Citing anonymous diplomats and analysts, the report explained that the talks, held in New York, may have been the first contact between American and Iranian officials since the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018.
June 6 – Iran reopened its embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Iran had reportedly named Alireza Enayati, former director of Gulf affairs at the foreign ministry (2019-2023) and envoy to Kuwait (2014-2019), ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Iran was also set to open a consulate in Jeddah as well as a representative office to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a 57-country organization headquartered in Saudi Arabia. As of early June, Saudi Arabia had not appointed an ambassador or announced a date for its embassy to reopen in Iran.
The United States sanctioned six companies and seven people in Iran, China, and Hong Kong that procured technology and parts for the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile and military programs. The network was linked to Iran’s Defense Ministry and four affiliated organizations.
June 11 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed openness about a nuclear agreement with the West but stipulated that the “infrastructure of our nuclear industry should not be touched.” He also warned officials to be wary of promises by Western governments. “We were hurt in many places because of such misplaced trust,” he told scientists and officials involved in the nuclear program. Khamenei’s remarks followed reports that Iranian and U.S. officials held indirect talks in Oman in May.
Mid-June – In a defiant challenge to the United States, President Raisi flew to three Latin American countries—one only 90 miles from the U.S. border—to deepen Iran’s strategic and economic ties in the western hemisphere. The trip included stops in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, all countries that share a worldview opposed to the U.S.-led international order.
June 19 – Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev visited Iran for the first time in more than two decades. Mirziyoyev met with President Raisi, and the two signed 10 cooperation agreements on trade, transit, medicine, insurance, technology and agriculture.
The leaders of Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad met with President Raisi and other top officials in Tehran.
June 21 – Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani met with Mora, the E.U. coordinator for the nuclear talks, in Qatar. "(I) had a serious and constructive meeting with Mora in Doha. We exchanged views and discussed a range of issues including negotiations on sanctions lifting," Bagheri tweeted.
June 27 – Israel’s Defense Ministry seized millions of dollars of cryptocurrency assets connected to Hezbollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force.
July 2 – Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian announced that Iran would delay sending a new ambassador to Sweden in protest of a Koran burning outside of Stockholm’s central mosque. The incident took place on June 28, the first day of the Islamic holy week around Eid al Adha.
July 4 – Iran was formally admitted as the ninth member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a security and economic organization led by China and Russia, during an online summit hosted by India. President Raisi joined the proceedings with leaders from other member states, including India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special assistant, Igor Levitin, met with Iran’s Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Akbar Ahmadian, and Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian in Tehran. Transportation officials signed an agreement for the construction of the Rasht-Astara railway. The 100 mile-long railway along the Caspian Sea coast was an essential link of the International North-South Transport Corridor connecting Iran, Russia, India, and Azerbaijan. Construction on the project could begin immediately, according to Iran’s transportation ministry.
July 5 – Britain’s Foreign Ministry announced a new and expanded framework for sanctions against Iran. Under the new criteria, the London would be able to sanction entities and individuals in Iran for: undermining stability in the region; the use and spread of weapons or weapons technologies; undermining democracy or rule of law; and other hostile activities toward Britain and its allies. The foreign ministry cited both human rights violations and over a dozen credible threats against British or U.K.-based individuals by Iran.
Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian met with his Sudanese counterpart, Ali al Sadiq Ali, on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement ministerial in Azerbaijan. It was the first meeting between diplomats since Sudan severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 2016. The meeting was aimed at “resolving misunderstandings between the two countries and strengthening the political and economic relations between Tehran and Khartoum,” according to Iranian state media.
Early July – Iranian leaders uniformly backed Russia’s government in the aftermath of the failed rebellion by the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary force with close ties to the Kremlin. “Iran supports the national sovereignty of Russia,” President Raisi assured President Putin in a phone call on June 26, 2023. Iranian media went further by accusing Western powers of fomenting unrest.
July 12 – Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to account for Moscow’s apparent endorsement of the United Arab Emirate’s claim to three islands in the Strait of Hormuz also claimed by Iran. Russia had signed a statement with the Gulf Cooperation Council that affirmed the Emirati position.
President Raisi began a three-country tour of Africa with a visit to Kenya. He signed five cooperation agreements on fisheries, livestock and information technology with Kenyan President William Ruto. Raisi hailed the trip, the first to Africa by an Iranian president in more than a decade, as a “new beginning” for the Islamic Republic’s relations with the continent. Raisi traveled to Uganda later that evening.
July 13 – President Raisi met with his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri Museveni, on the second leg of his African diplomatic tour. Raisi supported Uganda’s harsh stance against homosexuality. At the conclusion of his visit, Raisi signed four cooperation agreements for technological, farming, and religious exchanges with Ugandan representatives.
The United Arab Emirates freed 15 Iranian prisoners, which reflected the thawing of ties between the two Gulf countries. The release followed talks between Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian and Emirati officials in June.
President Raisi signed 12 cooperation agreements with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the conclusion of his three-country African tour. The agreements covered energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and scientific research projects.
July 14 – President Raisi returned to Tehran from his African tour and outlined his desire to “increase strategic depth” in the continent. He specified that Iran would trade petrochemicals for raw materials, including food. “We share common views with these African countries on opposing unilateralism, defending human rights, protecting family values and fighting against moral corruption and organized crime,” he told reporters.
July 17 – Finance Minister Ehsan Khandouzi announced a series of joint trade and cooperation projects between Iran and China after participating in the first Iran-China Joint Cooperation Commission meeting in Beijing. “China is Iran’s largest trading partner and the most important for the export of Iranian goods and an important part of our imports are also from China,” said Khandouzi. An office of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce in Beijing was also opened.
July 19 – Secretary of State Blinken signed a waiver allowing Iraqi payments to Iran for electricity. The agreement allowed Iraq to pay-off energy related debts owed to Iran via non-Iraqi banks for a period of 120-days.
The Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York barred 14 Iraqi banks from carrying out dollar transactions. The United States was concerned about the transferring of dollars to Iran and other sanctioned countries.
July 20 – Bolivian Minister of Defense Edmundo Novillo Aguilar met with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, in Tehran to strengthen bilateral ties and discuss South American security. The talks culminated in a memorandum of understanding on defense and security.
The European Union sanctioned six Iranians and issued a new sanctions framework over Iran’s military assistance to Syria as well as Russia for the war in Ukraine. The new measures barred E.U. export of parts that could be used in the production of drones. They also included travel restrictions and asset restrictions on those involved in Tehran’s drone program.
July 21 – Semafor News reported that Iran had detained a fourth American citizen, according to three anonymous officials briefed on the matter. The identity of the prisoner and details of his or her detention had not been disclosed.
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency warned that Russia was building a drone manufacturing facility with Iranian assistance that could significantly impact the war in Ukraine. Analysts added that the facility could be complete by early next year and would make Russia’s drone stockpile “orders of magnitude larger.”
July 22 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Sweden of pursuing “war” against Islam for allowing public desecration of the Koran. Khamenei added that demonstrators should face the “most severe punishment” and demanded that Swedish authorities hand over protesters to “the judicial system of the Muslim countries.”
July 25 – The director of China’s Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, met with Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Akbar Ahmadian on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg. The two discussed military cooperation, economic development, and advances in Iran’s share of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
July 26 – Bolivian Defense Minister Edmundo Novillo confirmed his country’s interest in obtaining Iranian military drone technology for combating smuggling and drug trafficking.
Nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said that Iran had provided new details to U.N. inspectors about two nuclear sites alleged to contain traces of manmade uranium.
Garrett Nada, Cameron Glenn, Daniel Schnur, Eli Pollock, Alex Yacoubian, John Caves and Andrew Hanna also contributed to this timeline.