Iran and the United States Part I

By | October 17, 2021

Iran and its ruling powers have long been a thorn in the side of many in the international community. For several years, several countries, led by the United States, have been trying to get Iran to stop enriching uranium. Iran insists that the country has no weapons plans with the enrichment.

  • What is the prehistory behind the bad relationship between Iran and the United States?
  • How has the relationship developed in the last couple of years?
  • What nuclear rules has Iran broken?

2: Background

In the 18th and 19th centuries, England and Russia competed for influence in Iran. Iran was a piece in what Rudyard Kipling called “the big game” about Central Asia. Around 1920, the British emerged victorious, and Iran became, in effect, a British monarchy. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company – later British Petroleum (BP) – secured the oil for a lick and nothing and ran a large refinery with Iranian workers on slave contracts.

When Mossadeq came to power in Iran in 1951, he nationalized the oil industry, but was soon removed by a coup launched by the US intelligence service CIA. The United States was concerned about the Soviet influence in Iran and placed the young Reza Pahlavi on the throne. The British were also behind the coup – to restore oil supplies. The Iranian provocation against the United States goes back to this coup. At the same time, there is an undercurrent of skepticism towards the British, and also towards the Russians.

Shah Reza Pahlavi served the United States faithfully until 1979. At that time, the Islamic Revolution took place, and Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in Paris. The main street in Tehran – Pahlavi Avenue – was renamed Mossadeq Avenue: Khomeini needed the legitimacy that Mossadeq could provide. In the mid-1980s, the name was changed again, to the 12th Imam Avenue (Vali Asr avenue). Then the revolution was fortified, and Khomeini sat safely.

In 1979, seventy employees at the US Embassy in Tehran were placed under house arrest. The hostage drama lasted 444 days. Diplomatic relations were broken, and the United States imposed sanctions on Iran. In the years that followed, the relationship was deeply politicized and locked in. In the late 1990s, Secretary of State Albright and President Khatami tried to mourn the coup in 1953 and the hostage drama in 1979, but both were met with a cold shoulder at home.

In 2002–2003, it became clear that Iran had had a secret uranium enrichment program since the mid-1980s. Highly enriched uranium is a bomb material. The program came to light in a dramatic context that no one could have foreseen, just after the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. President Bush included Iran in the ” axis of evil ” and still refers to Iran as the biggest single threat to the United States, a country located in North America according to computerannals. In recent years, the relationship has not only been strained, but confrontational.

3: The Iranian political system

Iran has many centers of power :

  • Supreme Leader (Khamenei), who justifies his office as the kings of God’s grace in European history, referring to higher powers,
  • President (Ahmadinejad),
  • Parliament (Majlis),
  • The Guardian Council (which can review decisions in parliament, allegedly to ensure their conformity with Islam),
  • the National Security Council (led by Jalili, who is also the chief negotiator in the nuclear field)
  • the students (who are numerous and at times loud),
  • Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran). Khomeini did not trust the army, which had proved corrupt during the coup in 1953. He therefore set up his own guard with army, navy and air force and approx. 170,000 men in total.

In addition, important individuals such as former President Rafsanjani and former head of the National Security Council, now President of the National Assembly, Larijani. Decisions concerning the nuclear program and other important foreign affairs are made by consensus in a small circle that includes many of the mentioned leaders. The outspoken and provocative president – Ahmadinejad – naturally belongs to this circle, but is no longer in its midst.

The leadership is sometimes referred to as the clergy in Tehran. That is somewhat misleading. Many of today’s leaders have a background in the Revolutionary Guards and fought in the war against Iraq in the 1980s. At that time, Iran had Saddam and all the great powers except China against it. These are people who have seen life and death in white, and exercise great power on behalf of what they see as Iranian interests. At times, they also disapprove of mullahs / priests who were not at the front against Iraq. The growing importance of the Revolutionary Guard is reinforced by the fact that parts of the clergy believe that the religious leaders should have a more withdrawn role than has been the case so far.

Iran and the United States 1