Semira N. Nikou
Feb. 12 – Syria was the first Arab country to recognize the revolutionary regime when President Hafez al Assad sent a telegram of congratulations to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The revolution transformed relations between Iran and Syria, which had often been hostile under the shah.
Feb. 14 – Students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, but were evicted by the deputy foreign minister and Iranian security forces.
Feb. 18 – Iran cut diplomatic relations with Israel.
Oct. 22 – The shah entered the United States for medical treatment. Iran demanded the shah’s return to Tehran.
Nov. 4 – Students belonging to the Students Following the Imam’s Line seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The hostage crisis lasted 444 days. On Nov. 12, Washington cut off oil imports from Iran. On Nov. 14, President Carter issued Executive Order 12170 ordering a freeze on an estimated $6 billion of Iranian assets and official bank deposits in the United States.
March – Iran severed formal diplomatic ties with Egypt after it signed a peace deal with Israel. Three decades later, Egypt was still the only Arab country that did not have an embassy in Tehran.
April 7 – The United States cut off diplomatic relations with Iran.
April 25 – The United States attempted a rescue mission of the American hostages during Operation Eagle Claw. The mission failed due to a sandstorm and eight American servicemen were killed. Ayatollah Khomeini credited the failure to divine intervention.
Sept. 22 – Iraq invaded Iran in a dispute over the Shatt al-Arab waterway. The war continued for eight years. Iran and Syria strengthened ties after Iraq's invasion, as Damascus provided Tehran with military and diplomatic support.
October – Iran cut all ties with Jordan after Amman declared support for Iraq. Relations did not resume until 1991.
Jan. 20 – After weeks of mediation by Algeria, Washington and Tehran agreed to the Algiers Accord to end the hostage crisis. The United States agreed to release frozen Iranian assets and not to intervene in Iranian affairs, in exchange for the release of 52 American hostages. Both countries agreed to end lawsuits. All claims would be referred to international arbitration at a new Iran-U. S. Claims Tribunal in The Hague.
May 25 – The Gulf Cooperation Council was established in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in order to confront security challenges posed by the Iran-Iraq War and the perceived threat of Iran’s Islamic revolution. The agreement was between Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.
June – Iran dispatched more than 1,000 Revolutionary Guards to Lebanon after Israel’s June 6 invasion. Iranian forces supported the formation of Hezbollah, a Shiite militia, but never directly confronted Israel. The invasion also strengthened ties between Iran and Syria.
July 19 – American University of Beirut President David Dodge became the first of several Americans to be taken hostage over the next nine years. He was the only one taken to Iran, where he spent one year in prison.
Oct. 23 – The United States accused Iran of aiding the suicide bombing at the barracks of U.S. Marine peacekeepers in Lebanon, which killed 241 U.S. military personnel, the largest loss to the American military in a single incident since Iwo Jima in World War II.
Jan. 23 – The Reagan administration put Iran on the State Department list of governments supporting terrorism.
March – An Iran-supported militia in Beirut again began abducting American hostages, including CIA station chief William Buckley, who died in captivity.
Apr. 1 – Washington warned Iran it would be held responsible if American hostages were harmed. By mid-summer, Washington had begun behind-the-scene diplomatic efforts that led to the arms-for-hostage swap.
June 2 – During a visit to Japan, Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called on the United States to restore relations with Iran. Later that month, he played a role in ending the hijacking of TWA 847, the 17-day hostage ordeal of 39 Americans in Beirut.
July 25 – Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, heir apparent to Ayatollah Khomeini, urged Iranian diplomats to improve relations with Western nations.
Aug. 14 – A shipment of U.S. TOW antitank missiles was sent to Tehran from Israel as part of the secret arms-for-hostage swap. The same day, Rev. Benjamin Weir became the first of three American hostages to be freed in Lebanon.
Nov. 22 – A shipment of HAWK anti-aircraft missiles was sent to Tehran from Israel as the second phase of an arms-for-hostage swap, but the deal fell far short of what was promised and Iran ordered a refund of payment and a resupply.
Jan. 17 – President Ronald Reagan signed a special finding to permit negotiations with Iran on hostages and to help promote “moderate” elements in Tehran. This was followed by a shipment of 1,000 TOW missiles to Iran at the end of February.
May 25-28 – Former national security adviser Robert McFarlane and Lt. Col. Oliver North made a secret trip to Iran to deliver arms. In July, American hostage Father Lawrence Jenco was freed in Lebanon. On Aug. 3, the United States delivered new HAWK missiles to Iran.
September – Two more Americans were taken hostage in Lebanon. On Sept. 19-20, an Iranian emissary related to Rafsanjani visited Washington for talks on arms, hostages and improved relations.
October – American writer Edward Tracy was taken hostage in Lebanon. A few days later, the United States provided 1,000 TOW missiles to Iran. On Nov. 2, American hostage David Jacobsen was freed in Beirut.
Nov. 3 – The Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa exposed secret dealings between Iran, Israel and the United States, which became known as the “Iran-Contra affair.”
April 7 – Parliamentary speaker Rafsanjani said that Iran would try to mediate the release of American hostages in Lebanon if the United States showed “good will” by unfreezing Iranian assets in the United States. On May 13, the United States returned $450 million in frozen assets.
July 31 – Saudi law enforcement agencies clashed with hundreds of demonstrators outside the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The dispute claimed the lives of around 400 pilgrims, two-thirds of whom were Iranian. Saudi Arabia blamed Iran and banned all political activities during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. In retaliation, angry mobs in Tehran ransacked the Saudi embassy.
April 27 – Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran. Official relations were restored in 1991.
June 19 – The USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian passenger plane, killing 290 passengers and crew on board.
Nov. 3 – The United States returned $567 million of frozen Iranian assets, in accordance with the Algiers Accord of 1981. American officials denied the deal was linked to Iranian President Rafsanjani's offer to help in the release of hostages in Beirut. Iranian assets valued at $900 million remained frozen.
Jan. 4 – Ayatollah Khomeini wrote a letter to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev saying that communism was dead and that he should study Islam. Iran’s relations with the Soviet Union soured after the Soviet support of Iraq during its eight-year war with Iran.
Jan. 20 – In his inaugural address, George H. W. Bush said, “good will begets good will,” in reference to Iran and American hostages held by pro-Iranian Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Feb. 14 – Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the death of British author Salman Rushdie for his book “The Satanic Verses.” On March 7, Iran cut off diplomatic relations with Britain over Rushdie’s book. In 1990, low-level diplomatic relations resumed.
August-September – Iran and Iraq resumed diplomatic ties, although Iran condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Dec. 4 – Terry Anderson, the last American hostage in Lebanon, was freed after Iranian intervention.
March 17 – A suicide bombing at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires killed around 30 and wounded more than 300 people. A group called the Islamic Jihad Organization, with alleged links to Iran and Hezbollah, claimed responsibility for the attack. Iran and Hezbollah denied involvement.
April – Iran took full control of Abu Musa, an oil-rich island claimed by both Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Rival claims over the island became a source of tension between the two countries.
Sept. 10 – China and Iran finalized an agreement on "nuclear energy" cooperation when Iranian President Rafsanjani visited Beijing, accompanied by senior military and atomic energy officials. The China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation reportedly agreed to sell Iran a facility to convert uranium ore into uranium hexafluoride gas. This agreement was cancelled in 1996 after pressure from the Clinton administration.
December – The European Council announced the opening of a “critical dialogue” with Iran. The goal was to help end Iran’s isolation while pressing it to improve its human rights record. The dialogue ended in 1997 when a German court found the Iranian government responsible for the murder of four Kurdish dissidents in Berlin.
March – Iran and Algeria broke off ties after Algeria accused Iran of supporting the opposition Islamic Salvation Front. Tehran denied the charges. Diplomatic relations were restored in September.
May 10 – Iran and South Africa reestablished diplomatic relations after the end of apartheid. The shah and South Africa had good relations, which ended after the 1979 revolution when the theocracy imposed a trade and oil boycott.
July 18 – The bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 and wounded 300, was blamed on Iran and Hezbollah. The charges were denied by both parties. In 2006, Argentine prosecutors called for the arrest of former President Rafsanjani.
Jan. 8 - Iran signed a contract with Russia to resume work on the partially complete Bushehr nuclear reactor.
March 15 – The Rafsanjani government offered a billion-dollar contract to U.S. oil giant Conoco to develop two offshore oil fields, which was blocked after President Clinton signed an executive order banning U.S. investment in the Iranian oil industry.
May 6 – President Clinton issued a total embargo of U.S.-Iran trade and investment over the country’s alleged sponsorship of "terrorism," nuclear ambitions, and hostility to the Middle East peace process.
April 6 - Belgian customs officials seized a large mortar from an Iranian shipment of pickles destined for Munich, Germany. Belgian officials speculated the military equipment was meant for attacks targeting Israeli interests in Europe.
June – Iran was suspected of masterminding the June 25 bombing of Khobar Towers, a U.S. Air Force housing complex in Saudi Arabia. Subsequently, the Clinton administration sent a letter to President Khatami, transmitted by the foreign minister of Oman. The letter indicated that Washington had direct evidence of the Revolutionary Guards’ involvement in the attacks. The message also stated that the United States wanted to work toward better relations with Iran. Tehran’s response was brusque, denying the allegations.
Aug. 4 – President Clinton signed into law the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), which penalized foreign companies doing business with the United States that also invested more than $20 million in the Iranian oil industry.
Aug. 10 - Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan visited Tehran to negotiate a $20 billion natural gas agreement covering the delivery of 140 cubic feet of gas per year and the building of gas pipelines in both countries. Turkey said that the agreement involved trade, not investment, and therefore was not in violation of ILSA.
January - Kazakhstan began shipping oil across the Caspian Sea to Iran, as part of an oil swap agreement negotiated in 1996.
April 10 - A German court ruled that Iran was behind the murders of four Kurdish dissidents in Berlin in 1992. The German government expelled four Iranian diplomats and recalled its ambassador from Tehran. Iran denied involvement. The European Union declared a mass recall of ambassadors from Tehran and joined Germany in suspending the “critical dialogue.” New Zealand, Australia and Canada also recalled their ambassadors from Tehran.
August – In his inaugural address, President Mohammad Khatami said Iran was willing to have “relations with any state which respects our independence,” and called for a “dialogue of civilizations” with all nations.
Dec. 9 – Iran hosted the eighth Islamic Summit Conference of all Muslim countries.
Jan. 7 - In an interview with CNN, President Khatami said Iran had an “intellectual affinity with the essence of American civilization” because it was also trying to construct a system based on the pillars of “religiosity, liberty, and justice.” He called for both countries to try to bring down the “wall of mistrust.”
September – Iran deployed thousands of troops to its border with Afghanistan after the Taliban admitted killing eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist. But Iran ultimately did not go to war.
March 9 – Iranian President Khatami arrived in Italy for the first visit to the West by an Iranian leader since 1979.
May 18 – Tehran restored full diplomatic relations with Britain after resolution of the dispute over Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
March 17 – In a speech, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright apologized for America's role in the 1953 overthrow of democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. She admitted that the coup, which put the shah back on the throne after he fled into exile, “was clearly a setback for Iran's political development.” The Clinton administration partially lifted sanctions on Iranian carpets and foodstuffs. But Iran denounced the goodwill gesture because Albright’s speech ended by criticizing Iran’s domestic policies.
May 19 – The World Bank approved its first loans to Iran in seven years, after the vote was postponed twice due to objections by Washington.
Sept. 30 – President Khatami paid an official visit to Cuba, where Cuban President Fidel Castro presented him with a medal of honor. Khatami said the visit symbolized solidarity between the two nations.
March 12 – During a state visit to Moscow, Iranian President Khatami and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the first cooperation and security agreement since the Iranian revolution.
Sept. 27 – Ayatollah Khamenei and President Khatami condemned the al Qaeda 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington D.C.
October-December – After the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan ousted the Taliban, Iran cooperated with the United States, Russia and India in providing support for the Northern Alliance opposition to bring down the Taliban. Iranian diplomats met with their U.S. and other Western counterparts in Bonn to form a new Afghan government. Iran also worked with the United Nations to repatriate nearly 1 million Afghan refugees.
Jan. 29 – In his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an “axis of evil.”
March – Following the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Syria and Iran intensified their cooperation to ensure they would not become Washington's next targets. They expanded bilateral defense cooperation and support to insurgent groups to tie down U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
May – A Swiss diplomat relayed Iranian conditions for bilateral talks to the Bush administration shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, but it was not taken seriously in Washington.
Dec. 26 – A devastating earthquake hit the southeastern city of Bam, killing more than 26,000 people. On Dec. 30, the United States flew in an emergency response team. The military aircraft were the first U.S. planes to land in Iran in 20 years.
June 21 – Iran arrested six British sailors -- part of the U.S.-led force in Iraq—for trespassing into Iran’s territorial waters. As a blow to Britain, Tehran paraded the servicemen through the city and forced them to apologize. They were released three days later, after negotiations.
November – Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency heralded growing ties with China, noting "we mutually complement each other. They have industry and we have energy resources."
July 5 - Iran received observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Astana and applied for full membership in 2008. But Iran’s membership was blocked because the organization stipulated that no country under U.N. sanctions could be admitted.
Oct. 26 – Newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to “vanish in the pages of time.” The statement was widely interpreted as a call for Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth.
May 8 – President Ahmadinejad sent President Bush an 18-page letter.
July 30 –Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visited Iran, where President Ahmadinejad awarded him Iran’s highest state medal for his support of Iran’s nuclear energy program. The two presidents often referred to each other as brothers.
July 31 – The U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1696, demanding that Iran halt its nuclear enrichment program.
Dec. 15 – President Ahmadinejad said the Holocaust was exaggerated.
Dec. 23 – The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1737, which imposed sanctions against Iran for failing to stop its uranium enrichment.
Feb. 8 – Ayatollah Khamenei warned that Iran would target U.S. interests around the world if it came under attack over its nuclear program.
March 9 – Former FBI agent Robert Levinson goes missing during a visit to Iran.
March 24 – Iran detained 15 British sailors and Marines for trespassing into Iranian territorial waters. They were held almost two weeks.
March 24 – The U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1747. The resolution called for a tightening of sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program.
Oct. 16 – Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Supreme Leader Khamenei on his first official visit to Iran, marking closer Russia-Iran ties. After the revolution, Washington had been called the “great satan,” and Moscow labeled “the lesser Satan.”
Oct. 25 – Washington imposed the most sweeping unilateral sanctions since the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979. It sanctioned the Revolutionary Guards and a few Iranian banks, and individuals believed to have links to nuclear and terror-related activities.
Sept. 20 – New York City officials denied President Ahmadinejad’s request to visit the site of Sept. 11 attacks during his visit to the United Nations.
December – A U.S. National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
March 4 – The U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1803, its fourth resolution against Iran for failing to suspend uranium enrichment.
Sept. 24 – President Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations and Columbia University, where he criticized U.S. policy and said there were no homosexuals in Iran.
Nov. 6 – President Ahmadinejad wrote President-elect Barack Obama congratulating him on his election and urging “real change.”
Feb. 10 – In a speech marking the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, President Ahmadinejad welcomed talks with the United States based on “mutual respect and in a fair atmosphere.”
March 20 – President Barak Obama sent a Nowruz (Iranian New Year) message to the Iranian people and government that called for better relations. He also said that Iran’s place in the international community “cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions.”
March 20 – Ayatollah Khamenei referred to Obama’s speech as deceptive. In light of recent sanctions, he said Iran would judge the United States by its actions and not by its words.
April 2 – At the G-20 London summit, President Chavez and President Ahmadinejad announced the formation of a joint Iranian-Venezuelan development bank.
May 1 – Iran rejected the April 2010 report by the U.S. State Department that designated Iran as the “most active state sponsor of terrorism.” Tehran said that the United States could not accuse others of terrorism after its actions at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay.
May – President Obama sent a letter to Ayatollah Khamenei before Iran’s June presidential elections that called for improved relations through “co-operation and regional bilateral relations.” Khamenei briefly mentioned the letter in his Friday sermon.
September – An Iranian news website reported a second letter sent by President Obama to Ayatollah Khamenei.
October – Iran blamed the United States and Britain for involvement in suicide bombings that killed 15 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in southeastern Iran. The attack was carried out by the Sunni Muslim rebel group Jundollah, which Iran claimed was funded by the United States. The group had carried out a similar attack, killing 40, around five months earlier.
Oct. 21 – Iran agreed to a U.S.- and U.N.-backed deal designed to provide fuel for Tehran’s research reactor for medical needs and to remove a large part of Iran’s enriched uranium from its control. The deal called for the transfer of 1,200 kg of low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment and then to France to produce fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. But Iran later backed off from the agreement.
Nov. 24 – President Ahmadinejad arrived in Brazil as part of a five-nation tour of Senegal, Gambia, Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela. He was greeted by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, marking the first visit by an Iranian leader since 1965.
March 20 – President Obama sent a second Nowruz message to the Iranian government and people. The message encouraged dialogue between the two countries and criticized Iran’s human rights violations during post-election protests.
April 13 – President Ahmadinejad disclosed that he wrote a second letter to Obama. “Obama only has one way to tell the world that he has created change, and that is Iran,” he said in a televised interview.
May 17 – Iran accepted a proposal from Turkey and Brazil for a nuclear fuel swap deal in which Iran would send 1200 kg of its Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) to Turkey, a modified version of the deal Iran accepted, then rejected, in October 2009. The United States rejected the proposal, in part because Iran had increased its stockpile of enriched uranium. Washington then pushed for tougher U.N. sanctions.
June 9 – The Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran in Resolution 1929.
June 12 – The president of the Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce predicted that the annual trade between Iran and China would reach $50 billion in the next five years.
June 26 – The U.S. Congress passed tough new sanctions against Iran’s energy sector and IRGC affiliated companies. Congress also called for penalties against companies that export gasoline and other refined energy products to Iran.
July 26 – The 27 European foreign ministers agreed on a comprehensive package of sanctions against Iran in the areas of trade, financial services, energy and transport, as well as additional designations for visa bans and asset freezes. Measures focused on Iranian banks, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.
Dec.6-7 – Iran met in Geneva with members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany for negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The group agreed to meet again in January 2011 in Istanbul.
Jan. 21-22 – Nuclear negotiations held in Istanbul between P5+1 countries and Iran failed after Tehran refused to discuss transparent limits on its uranium enrichment program.
Feb. 24 – The United States imposed new sanctions on two top Iranian officials for engaging in “serious human rights abuses” since the disputed 2009 election.
March 20 – President Obama sent a third Nowruz message to Iran, directed specifically at Iran’s youth. The President addressed Iran’s young people, saying, “your talent, your hopes, and your choices will shape the future of Iran, and help light the world. And though times may seem dark, I want you to know that I am with you.”
May 23-24 – The E.U. imposed sanctions on more than 100 individuals and companies tied to Iran's nuclear program, while the United States sanctioned seven foreign companies involved in supplying Iran refined oil as well as sixteen firms and individuals involved in the missile and nuclear program.
August – Former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati is detained in Iran.
Oct. 11 – The U.S. Treasury Department designated five individuals, including four senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force officers connected to a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States.
Oct. 12 – The U.S. Treasury Department designated the Iranian commercial airline Mahan Air pursuant to Executive Order 13224 for providing financial, material and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force.
Nov. 29-30 – Iranian protesters stormed the British embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against U.K.-imposed sanctions. Britain evacuated its diplomatic staff and expelled all Iranian diplomats from London, but did not sever ties. France, Germany, and the Netherlands also recalled their ambassadors for consultations.
Nov. 21 - The United States, United Kingdom, and Canada announced bilateral sanctions on Iran. The United Kingdom severed all ties with Iranian banks.
Dec. 15 – The U.S. Senate passed new sanctions on Iran’s central bank.
Dec. 6 – The United States launched its Virtual Embassy Tehran website to provide a means for direct communication with Iranians.
Dec. 13 – The United States sanctioned two senior Iranian military officials for responsibility for or complicity in serious human rights abuses.
Dec. 20 – The United States issued new sanctions against front companies linked to Iran’s missile program.
Jan. 11 – The United States sanctioned three Chinese, UAE, and Singapore firms under the Amended Iran Sanctions Act.
Jan. 23 - The European Union imposed an oil embargo on Iran, effective July 1, 2012. The European Union made up 20 percent of Iran’s oil sales.
Feb. 6 – The United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank.
Feb. 16 – The United States imposed sanctions on Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.
March 6 – The P5+1 countries agreed to resume talks with Iran over its nuclear program.
March 20 – President Obama sent a fourth Nowruz message to the Iranian government and people. The message accused Iran of having an “Electronic Curtain,” criticizing the Iranian government’s internet censorship.
April 14 – P5+1 diplomats met in Istanbul with Iranians to discuss Tehran’s promised “new initiatives” on its nuclear program.
May 1 – The White House issued an Executive Order targeting foreign sanctions evaders.
May 23-24 – The P5+1 held inconclusive talks with Iran in Baghdad.
June 18-19 – The P5+1 held inconclusive talks with Iran in Moscow.
June 11 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Iran sanctions exceptions for India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan.
July 1 – The E.U. embargo on Iranian oil exports went into effect.
July 12 – The United States announced broad new sanctions on Iranian front companies and banks linked to the Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs.
July 31 – The United States announced new sanctions on Iranian oil and foreign financial institutions that facilitate transactions for Iranian banks.
Aug. 2 – The U.S. Congress voted to impose new sanctions on Iran that target companies aiding Tehran’s energy sector. The Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act of 2012 differs from President Obama’s July 31 executive order by targeting companies conducting business with Iran’s national oil company and tanker fleet, such as insurers and shippers.
Aug. 9 – Envoys from 26 different countries attended the International Conference on Syria hosted by Tehran.
Aug. 10 – The United States imposed sanctions on a Syrian state-run oil company, Sytrol, for conducting business with Iran’s energy sector.
Aug. 12 – The United States offered aid to Iran after two earthquakes reportedly hit almost 200 villages near the northwest city of Tabriz.
Aug. 26-31 – Some 120 countries attended the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran. Iran began its three-year presidency of the movement.
Sept. 1 – Iran and North Korea signed a scientific and technological cooperation agreement.
Sept. 7 - Canada closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa. Foreign Minster John Baird cited Iran as “the most significant threat to global peace and security” as the reason for severing diplomatic relations.
Sept. 28 – The U.S. State Department revoked the Mujahedin-e Khalq’s (MEK) designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The leftist group had killed six Americans in Iran in the 1970s and attempted an attack against Iran’s U.N. mission in 1992. The State Department then added it to the terrorism list in 1997. But the MEK renounced violence in 2001 and no terrorist attacks have been positively linked to the organization for more than a decade.
Oct. 9 – The United States moved to tighten loopholes in its Iran sanctions. President Obama’s executive order aimed to implement additional punitive measures that he signed into law on August 10, 2012.
Oct. 15 – The European Union targeted Iran’s nuclear program with new sanctions on its financial, energy, trade, and transport sectors.
Nov. 8 – The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 17 individuals and entities related to the Iranian government’s human rights abuses, its support of terrorism, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
Nov. 18 – Tehran hosted the Syria National Dialogue conference. An Estimated 200 Syrian and regional politicians attended the conference.
Nov. 30 – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved new sanctions on Iran’s energy and shipping sectors.
Dec. 7 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the renewal of Iran sanctions exceptions for China, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan.
Dec. 13 – The U.S. Treasury and State Department imposed sanctions on seven Iranian companies and five individuals for “proliferating weapons of mass destruction” pursuant to Executive Order 13382.
Dec. 20 – Rev. Saeed Abedini, an American citizen and Christian convert, is detained in Iran.
Dec. 21 – The U.S. Treasury froze the assets of four Iranian companies and one executive for links to Tehran’s missile and nuclear programs.
Jan. 10 – 48 Iranian captives landed in Tehran after their release by Syrian rebels. Syrian opposition members claimed the Iranians were members of the Revolutionary Guards, but Tehran claimed the men were religious pilgrims.
Jan. 16-17 – The IAEA held talks with Tehran over suspicions that tests related to atomic weapons triggers had been carried out. They failed to reach an agreement.
Feb. 2 – Vice President Joe Biden said that the United States was prepared to hold direct talks with Iran to resolve tensions over its controversial nuclear program.
Feb. 6 - The U.S. Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and other financial institutions to restrict Tehran’s ability to spend oil revenues. It also designated one individual and four entities for involvement in censorship activities.
Feb. 7 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejected the offer by Vice President Biden for direct talks. “Some naïve people like the idea of negotiating with America. However, negotiations will not solve the problem,” he said in a speech to Iranian Air Force commanders.
Feb. 11 – The U.S. Treasury Department imposed new nonproliferation sanctions on entities and individuals from Belarus, China, Iran, Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. Credible information indicated that they had transferred to, or acquired from, Iran, North Korea, or Syria, equipment and technology related to weapons programs.
Feb. 16 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei claimed that although Iran has no intention to build nuclear weapons, “America would not have been able to stop the Iranian nation in any way” in speech in Tabriz, Iran.
Feb. 20 – Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee welcomed recent U.S. calls for direct talks. He outlined steps the United States could take to prove its good faith, such as “discarding the two-track policy of pressure and engagement.”
Feb. 26 – The P5+1 held talks with Iran in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
March 14 - The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned a Greek businessman and 14 companies for helping Iran evade international oil sanctions.
March 18 – President Obama sent a fifth Nowruz message to Iran saying there could be a “new relationship” with Iran if it meets international obligations on its controversial nuclear program.
March 21 – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he is not opposed to direct talks with the United States in a speech marking Nowruz. But he is “not optimistic” about prospects for success if negotiations take place. He also claimed that the United States “doesn’t want the nuclear conflict to end.”
April 5-6 – Diplomats from P5+1 countries met with their Iranian counterparts in Almaty, Kazakhstan but the talks end without an accord or plans for another meeting. Tehran introduced a proposal requiring world powers to recognize its right to enrich uranium.
June 3 – The United States imposed sanctions for the first time on Iran’s currency, the rial. The executive order’s objective was to render the currency unusable outside of Iran, a senior administration official said during a conference call.
June 4 – The United States sanctioned a major network of front companies for hiding assets on behalf of Iranian leaders.
June 18 – The Group of Eight industrialized nations called on Iran to move “without delay” to fulfill its long-delayed obligations in answering questions about its controversial nuclear program. It also called on the international community to fully implement a several U.N. sanctions resolutions designed to pressure Tehran into compliance.
July 1 – New U.S. sanctions banning gold sales and trade in gold with Iran went into effect.
Sept. 26 – Foreign ministers from P5+1 countries and Iran met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly and agreed to hold a new round of talks in Geneva. Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held their first meeting on the sidelines.
Sept. 27 – President Barack Obama called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in what was the first direct communication between a U.S. and Iranian presidents since the 1979 revolution. “The two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program,” Obama said at a White House briefing.
Oct. 15-16 – Diplomats from P5+1 countries and Iran met in Geneva to solve the nuclear dispute. They committed to meeting in November to continue talks that were “substantive and forward looking.”
Oct. 28-29 – The IAEA held talks with Iran on outstanding issues regarding its nuclear program. Iran “presented a proposal on practical measures as a constructive contribution” to ongoing talks,” according to a joint statement. The sides agreed to meet again November.
Nov. 7-10 – Iran and the P5+1 made significant headway but ultimately failed to finalize an agreement. Foreign ministers rushed to Geneva as a breakthrough appeared imminent. But last-minute differences, reportedly spurred by French demands for tougher terms, blocked a deal.
Nov. 11 – IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visited Tehran. He and Iran’s chief of the Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, signed a Framework for Cooperation Agreement committing Tehran to take practical steps towards transparency within three months.
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.
Dec. 9 -12 –The P5+1 and Iran met in Geneva at the technical level to discuss implementation of the interim nuclear deal.
Dec. 11 – Iran and the IAEA met in Vienna to review the status of the six actions Iran committed to in November as part of the Framework for Cooperation Agreement.
Dec 13 – Britain’s newly appointed chargé d’affaires, Ajay Sharma, visited Iran in the first high-level diplomatic visit since Britain pulled its diplomats from Tehran two years ago.
Dec. 19 – Nuclear and sanctions experts from Iran and the P5+1 met in Vienna to discuss technical details related to implementing the interim nuclear agreement. The Iranian team unexpectedly flew back to Tehran, reportedly in response to Washington’s blacklisting of 19 entities for violating sanctions.
Dec. 30-31 – The P5+1 and Iran met again in Geneva for technical talks on implementing the November Joint Plan of Action.
Jan. 9-12 – The P5+1 and Iran met in Geneva and reach an agreement on implementation. The delegations returned to their capitals for approval. On January 12, the parties announced that the Joint Plan of Action will be implemented starting on January 20.
Jan. 20 – The Joint Plan of Action entered into force. The IAEA also issued a report stating that Iran is complying with the deal after reducing their 20% enrichment stockpile and halting work on the Arak heavy water reactor. The United States and European Union announced they have taken steps to waive certain sanctions and release a schedule for releasing Iran’s oil money frozen in other countries.
Feb. 6 – The U.S. Treasury announced new measures against more than a dozen companies and individuals deemed to be “evading U.S. sanctions against Iran, aiding Iranian nuclear and missile proliferation, and supporting terrorism.”
Feb. 7 – The U.S. Treasury issued a general license allowing Iranians to purchase computers, cell phones, software, mobile applications and Internet services. “We are committed to promoting the free exchange of information in Iran and to enabling individuals in Iran to communicate with each other and with the outside world,” said a Treasury spokeswoman in an email, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Feb. 18-20 – The P5+1 and Iran agreed on a framework for final negotiations on February 20 after three days of discussion in Geneva.
March 3 – IAEA chief Yukiya Amano announced that Iran has implemented the six measures contained in the Framework for Cooperation Agreement but also notes that “much remains to be done to resolve all outstanding issues.”
March 19 – The P5+1 and Iran held another round of closed-door talks on a final nuclear agreement. Ashton and Zarif described their discussions on the Arak heavy water reactor and Western sanctions as “substantive and useful.”
March 20 – The IAEA released a report detailing Iran’s implementation of the interim nuclear deal brokered in November 2013. The report noted that Tehran has not enriched any more uranium to 20 percent. But it had not yet completed a facility to convert low-enriched uranium gas into an oxide, which would need to be reprocessed to fuel a weapon.
The U.S. Treasury authorized accredited U.S. academic institutions to hold academic exchanges with Iranian universities. The general license notably allowed the provision of on-line courses for Iranian students. The Treasury’s announcement coincided with Nowruz, Persian New Year.
President Obama issued a Nowruz (Persian New Year) message outlining progress on the nuclear issue and expressing hope for better U.S.-Iran relations. "This Nowruz could mark not just the beginning of a new year, but a new chapter in the history of Iran and its role in the world—including a better relationship with the United States and the American people, rooted in mutual interest and mutual respect," said Obama.
April 7-9 – The P5+1 and Iran met in Vienna to continue negotiations on a final nuclear agreement. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reported that they had “substantive and detailed discussions” on all relevant issues.
April 17 – The U.S. State Department announced that Washington had taken steps to release $450 million installment of frozen Iranian funds after the IAEA verified Iran is complying with the interim nuclear agreement.
May 13-16 – The P5+1 and Iran met in Vienna to begin drafting a final agreement. The talks ended without any tangible progress. But both sides committed to another round of talks in June.
May 21 – Iran and the IAEA agreed to an additional five actions for Tehran to take before August 25. Two of the actions involved Iran providing information on possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.
June 9-10 – U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns lead a team of officials to Geneva for bilateral talks with Iran to prepare for the next round of P5+1 talks.
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.
June 16-20 – The P5+1 met in Geneva and produced an outline of a draft agreement but did not make much progress on the core issue of uranium enrichment. They agreed to meet on July 2 and hold continuous talks until the July 20 expiration date.
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.
Sept. 18-26 – Iran and the P5+1 resumed talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Several meetings were held, including a one-on-one meeting between Kerry and Zarif, in which they also discussed the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The sides did not reach an understanding on major issues such as uranium enrichment and sanctions relief.
Sept. 24 –David Cameron met with Hassan Rouhani in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in what was the first meeting between an Iranian president and a British prime minister since the 1979 revolution.
Oct. 14-16 – The P5+1 and Iran met in Vienna and made a little progress. Disagreements remained over Tehran’s uranium enrichment capabilities and a timeline for implementing a deal. Officials emphasized that the sides had not given up on the November 24 due-date for a deal and that the talks had focused on a “full agreement,” not just understandings of key issues.
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.
Nov. 24 – Officials from Iran and P5+1 missed the deadline for a deal and announced that talks will be extended by seven months, with a political agreement to be in place by March.
Dec. 17 – Iran and the P5+1 held talks at the deputy level in Geneva. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told reporters that the “intense negotiations” were “very useful and helpful.” No E.U. statement was released after the talks and the U.S. delegation did not provide comments to the press.
Jan. 14, 16 – Kerry and Zarif met in Geneva to find ways to speed up negotiations. They meet again in Paris later in the week.
Jan. 15-17 – Iran and the U.S. hold bilateral talks in Geneva.
Jan. 18 – Iran and the P5+1 powers made limited progress in talks in Geneva. They agreed to meet again in early February.
Feb. 23 – Iran and the P5+1 concluded another round of talks on Iran's controversial nuclear program in Geneva. Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz joined the talks for the first time to provide technical expertise, but Secretary of State John Kerry noted that their presence was "no indication whatsoever that something is about to be decided."
March 2-5 – Deputy foreign ministers from Iran and the P5+1 resumed talks in Montreux, Switzerland. Separately, Zarif held bilateral talks with Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva, joining the rest of the negotiators in Montreux on March 5.
March 16-18 – Kerry and Zarif met
in Lausanne, Switzerland, and Moniz and Salehi joined the talks to negotiate technical details. Zarif then flew to Brussels to meet with E.U. officials. The Iranian team returned to Switzerland for more talks with U.S. officials on March 17-18.
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.
April 2 – Zarif and E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a joint statement announcing that Iran and the P5+1 had reached an understanding on key parameters for a comprehensive nuclear deal, with the final agreement to be drafted by June 30.
April 22-24 – Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi and E.U. political director Helga Schmid met in Vienna on April 22. Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and deputy foreign minister from the P5+1 joined them later in the week to begin drafting a final agreement.
April 27 – Kerry and Zarif met
on the sidelines of the 2015 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty Conference.
May 12-15 – Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and other deputy foreign ministers from Iran and the P5+1 met in Vienna to continue drafting a final nuclear deal.
May 27-30 – Deputy foreign ministers met in Vienna. Kerry and Zarif held talks in Geneva on May 30, their first meeting
since the April 2 announcement.
June 3-4 - Deputy foreign ministers from Iran and the P5+1 met
in Vienna, following a day of expert-level meetings.
June 10-14 – Deputy foreign ministers from Iran and the P5+1 held talks
June 17 – Deputy foreign ministers from Iran and the P5+1 held talks
June 22-26 – Deputy foreign ministers from Iran and the P5+1 held talks in Vienna.
June 28-29 – Kerry held meetings with Zarif, Mogherini, and the British, German, and French foreign ministers in Vienna. Zarif traveled to Tehran on June 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.
July 1 – Kerry and Zarif met
one-on-one, joined later by U.S., E.U., and Iranian negotiators at the deputy foreign minister level.
July 2 – Foreign ministers from Iran and the P5+1 held a series of bilateral meetings. Talks also continued at the deputy foreign minister level. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director Yukiya Amano visited Rouhani and other officials in Tehran.
July 3-6 – Talks were held at the foreign minister, deputy foreign minister, and expert level. Kerry and Zarif held several bilateral meetings.
July 7-9 – Negotiators announced talks would be extended to July 10. Meetings were held at the foreign minister, deputy foreign minister, and expert level.
July 10-13 – On July 10, negotiators announced talks would be extended to July 13. Talks continued at the foreign minister, deputy foreign minister, and expert level.
July 14 – Iran and the world's six major powers announced that they had reached a final nuclear deal.
July 20 – The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2231 endorsing the final deal. The deal and its annexes were also delivered to the U.S. Congress, beginning a 60-day review period.
August 23 – British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond traveled to Tehran to reopen
the British Embassy, which had been closed since 2011. The Iranian embassy in London was reopened the same day.
September 17 – After weeks of heated debate, the U.S. Congress failed to pass a resolution of disapproval to block the deal.
October 15 – Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi was reportedly arrested in Iran.
Oct. 18 – Iran and the P5+1 marked the deal's Adoption Day. Iran began dismantling parts of its nuclear infrastructure, while the United States and European Union began preparations to lift certain sanctions.
Nov.18 – The IAEA released a report stating that Iran had removed 4,500 centrifuges at the Natanz and Fordo facilities. It still had to uninstall another 10,000 centrifuges to reach the target of 5,000.
Nov. 22 – The P5+1 issued a document outlining the redesign and reconstruction of Iran’s Arak nuclear reactor. It specified roles for each of the countries.
Dec. 2 – The IAEA concluded that Iran had worked on a “range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” despite its denial of any work on a nuclear weapons program.
Dec. 15 – The IAEA’s board decided to close the inquiry into the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. The unanimous decision by the 35-nation group ended the 12-year probe while allowing inspectors to continue monitoring Tehran’s program.
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.
Jan. 13 – The Guardian reported Iran had been engaging in demographic engineering in Syria to strengthen Syrian government control in key areas near the Lebanese border, as well as Iranian land route security to Lebanon. The effort allegedly involved transferring Sunnis out of strategically important locations, such as the territory between Damascus and Lebanon, and replacing them with Shiites.
Jan. 24 – Iran, Turkey and Russia concluded talks in Astana on Syria with a partial ceasefire agreement, though implementation was unclear with neither the Syrian government nor rebel organizations represented. The parties to the talks also agreed to the principles of maintaining Syrian sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
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.
Feb. 3 – The Trump administration announced new sanctions targeting individuals and companies linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program. A dozen companies and 13 individuals were designated in retaliation for a January 2017 missile test and Houthi attack on a Saudi warship.
March 21 – The United States imposed sanctions on 30 foreign entities and individuals for violations of the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act. Eleven of the entities and individuals received sanctions for transfers on behalf of Iran’s ballistic missile program. A number of the remaining individuals sanctioned violated other sanctions on Iran as well.
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.
June 11 – Iran began sending hundreds of tons of foodstuffs to Qatar to alleviate the pressure of food and goods shortages in the country caused by the Arab state blockade and trade cutoff.
Aug. 24 – Qatar restored full diplomatic ties with Iran after having pulled its ambassador to Iran in January 2016. Qatar’s elevation of ties with Iran was a rejection of the demands of the Saudi-led bloc.
Sept. 12 – Iran and Syria signed a memorandum of understanding granting Iran contracts for several projects in rebuilding the Syrian energy grid. The contracts were for Latakia, Deir Ezzor, and Damascus. The two countries also signed contracts for Iran to supply power to Aleppo.
Sept. 20 – The United Kingdom signed a $720 million deal with Iran to develop a solar park in Iran, involving investors from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The agreement came amidst heightened U.S. rhetoric against Iran.
Oct. 27 – Kurdish forces and the Iraqi government reached a ceasefire following an Iraqi offensive that retook Kirkuk and other Kurdish-controlled areas. The Iraqi offensive came after the Kurdish government initiated an independence referendum, and was engineered and coordinated by the Iranian government.
Nov. 11 – Bahrain accused Iran of terrorist sabotage after an explosion hit Bahrain’s main oil pipeline. Iran denied having any role in the explosion, or in the attacks and unrest from the Shiite majority population that have occurred in Bahrain since the Arab Spring.
Nov. 5 – Russian petroleum firm Gazprom and the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran, a state-run investment firm, signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation on future enterprises.
Nov. 22 – Presidents Putin, Erdogan, and Rouhani met in Sochi to discuss cooperation between Russia, Turkey, and Iran in Syria. In the course of the summit, Putin also won Turkish and Iranian support for a Russian-led peace process.
Nov. 22 – Saad Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, withdrew his resignation announced three weeks prior from Saudi Arabia. At the time of his resignation, Hariri claimed to be motivated by Iranian-Hezbollah plots against his life. It was later suspected Saudi Arabia had forced his resignation to increase pressure on Iranian allies in Lebanon.
Dec. 14 – The United States presented evidence for the first time of Iranian support for Houthi militants in Yemen, in violation of UN resolutions. The evidence included a drone, an anti-tank weapon, and a short-range ballistic missile, all of which the United States claimed to be Iranian-made and supplied.
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 Donald 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 Donald 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 Donald 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.
Garrett Nada, Cameron Glenn, Daniel Schnur, Eli Pollock, and John Caves also contributed to this timeline.