by Prof. Gordon L. Bowen, Ph.D.,
Dept. of Political Science, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Virginia USA 24401
The Shah of Iran as depicted by Time magazine in 1960
1953: U.S./U.K-inspired coup overthrows elected govt. of M. Mossadegh, installs monarch Reza Shah as ruler.
1963: Muslim clerical leader Ruhollah Khomeini speech in March at Qom denounces Shah’s ties to U.S., Israel; student uprising in June leads to Khomeini’s arrest and exile in Iraq, 1963-78.
1954-79: U.S. trains Shah’s secret police SAVAK; arms sales in 1970s are largest U.S. arms exports in world.
1977: Carter visits Tehran, toasts Shah: “we see eye to eye on human rights.”
1978-79: Demonstrations, riots lead to Shah’s departure (Feb. 1979). Several revolutionary governments yield to theocracy led by Khomeini’s Islamic Republican Party by Fall 1979.
American hostages, 1979
Nov. 4, 1979: “Students” seize U.S. Embassy, hold 52 hostages for 444 days (released Jan. 1981). Diplomatic relations are broken.
Sept. 1980: Iraq attacks Iran, starting an 8 year war. U.S. policy tilts to support Iraq by later stages of war.
1983: Islamic legal codes, including amputations for theft and dress codes for women, introduced.
1980s: Ayatollah Khomeini remains power behind Pres. Khamenei’s government throughout 1980s.
1983: Iranian funding backs Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, attacks on U.S. Marines’ base where 241 die.
1985-6: Secret U.S.-Iranian negotiations lead to missile sales, scandal.
1988: U.S. shoots down Iranian airliner; U.N. negotiated end to Iran-Iraq war achieved.
1989: The Ayatollah Khomeini issues fatwa calling for the killing of British author Salman Rushdie for publication of his book The Satanic Verses; Khomeini dies later that year. Pres. Hashemi Rafsanjani appears ascendant.
1991: Iran opposes U.S.-led war against Iraq; ½ million Kurds flee into Iran.
Feb. 1992: IAEA inspectors find Iran in compliance despite press reports of bomb project.
Sept. 1992: Turkey mobilizes 150,000 on Iranian border after Iran forces Turkish planes to land, holds pilots.
1992-95: Iranian arms given to Croatia, Bosnia (in violation of U.N. arms embargo).
March 1993: Iranian opposition leader shot dead in Rome.
July 1993: Rafsanjani re-elected President with 63%.
Sept. 1993: U.S.-Saudi seizure of Chinese ship en route to Iran finds none of the U.S.-alleged biological / chemical weapons that the U.S. had charged were on it.
Nov. 1993: Clinton receives Rushdie at White House; Iran denounces.
July 18, 1994: Iranian-tied terrorists bomb Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 85 and wounding 200 plus. (For more on this and related cases, follow this link).
1994: Iranian Christian leader murdered after converting small number of Muslims to Christianity; dissident Muslim writers die in prison.
1994-95: Satellite television reception is banned; pornographic video possession becomes capital offense.
Aerial photo and map of Bushehr nuclear power plant, 2003
Jan. 1995: Russia contracts to build nuclear plant at Bashehr (sometimes transliterated: Bushehr); Japan, UK, Fr, and Germany all resist U.S. call for trade boycott of Iran over issue.
March 15, 1995: U.S. Government declares a "State of National Emergency" exists in its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. (That condition has been renewed each year, 1995-2009, e.g. follow this link).
June 25, 1996: A truck bomb exploded at the Khobar Towers housing complex for U.S. soldiers in Dharan, Saudi Arabia; 19 died and hundreds were wounded. Later, in August 1999, the U.S. would accuse Iran of involvement in this incident.
1997: Germany indicts Iranian diplomats over murders of Kurds in 1992.
May 1997: M. Khatami elected President with 70%. "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains actual power in charge. The two publicly disagree on policy toward U.S. at December 1997 world “Islamic Conference” meeting in Tehran.
July 1998: Iran test fires missile with 800 mile range.
Sept. 1998: Iranian Foreign Ministry declares fatwa against Rushdie cannot be revoked, even though UK had restored diplomatic relations on expectation that it would be revoked.
Oct. 1998: Conservative (pro-Islamist) forces win 70 of 86 seats on Assembly of Experts, the body that appoints Iran’s highest religious authority. Several leaders of anti-government parties are murdered in next two months; “rogue” intelligence officers later are publicly blamed in the crimes.
July 1999: Major student anti-fundamentalist demonstrations in several Iranian cities. Four student leaders later sentenced to death for organizing these.
August 1999: Pres. Clinton demands extradition by Iran of terrorists involved in the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, where 19 US soldiers died. Iran refuses extradition request.
August 1999: Iran and Turkey cooperate in anti-guerrilla operations against Kurds in border area.
November 1999: In speech commemorating 20th anniversary of seizure of U.S. Embassy, Ayatollah Khamenei denounces U.S. and Iranians who favor dialogue with the U.S.; bars visits to Iran by U.S. diplomats.
Feb. 2000: All candidates of (liberal) Iran Freedom Movement are barred from parliamentary election ballots. Show trial of 13 Iranian Jews is staged, alleging ties to U.S. and Israel; 10 ultimately are convicted and given long jail terms (July).
March 2000: News editor and advisor to (reformist) Pres. Khatami, Saeed Hajjarian, is shot in assassination attempt. Crackdown on pro-Khatami newspapers and politicians reverses some gains won by pro-Khatami parties in elections.
August 2000: Reformist majority in parliament passes freedom of press law, but Ayatollah Khamenei blocks implementation and courts close last remaining pro-reform newspaper.
July 2001: Pres. Khatami is re-elected with 77% support.
Jan. 2002: In his "State of the Union Address," U.S. President George W. Bush names Iran part of “Axis of Evil.”
Feb. 11, 2002: Millions of Iranians attend official anti-American demonstration on 23rd anniversary of Islamic Revolution in Iran.
July 2002: Revolutionary Court outlaws leading reform opposition political party, the Freedom Movement, and jails 33 leaders for terms up to 10 years.
Dec. 2002: Iran and Russia sign further agreement on nuclear power projects; U.S. objects arguing this is a bomb project.
Feb. 2003: Pres. Khatami announces Iran has started mining uranium for use in the Bushehr and future nuclear projects.
May 2, 2003: Guardian Council leader Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati calls for Iraqis to mount suicide bombings against U.S. in Iraq.
June 2003: Anti-Islamist student riots are blamed on U.S. by religious leaders.
June 18, 2003: U.S. Pres. G. Bush states that “the U.S. will not tolerate the construction of a nuclear weapon” in Iran. A poll that month in the Washington Post reveals that 56 percent of Americans would favor war on Iran to stop it from gaining nuclear weapons; 38 percent opposed this. Twelve days later, Russia urges Iran to allow IAEA inspections.
June 2003: Anti-Islamist student riots are blamed on U.S. by religious leaders. Canadian photo journalist Zahra Kazemi (photo above left) is murdered (July 10) in custody after arrest covering demonstrations on June 23. Over the objections of her family in Canada, Kazemi is buried in Shiraz, Iran, ending any chance of an independent autopsy into the cause of her death. A photo of the burial is on right, above. Expressing outrage, Canada recalled its Ambassador from Tehran.
August 2003: Iran announces U.S. will not be permitted to interrogate the 10 to 15 Al Qaeda members it has “arrested” (rumored to include Osama’s son).
Aug. 23, 2003: IAEA announces it has found enriched uranium in Iran. (Washington Post reported this June 19)
Oct. 10, 2003: It is announced that Shirin Ebadi (photo above), human rights activist, will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2003.
Oct. 21, 2003: After vigorous UK-Fr-German diplomacy, Iran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment and to permit intrusive IAEA inspections of nuclear facilities. Hardliners organize mass rallies to oppose these decisions.
Nov. 11, 2003: IAEA report charges Iran for 18 years has operated a secret nuclear program, deliberately hiding evidence of uranium and plutonium enrichment, but finds no weapons program. The next day, Under Secretary of State John Bolton sharply disagreed, stating "The United States believes that the massive and covert Iranian effort to acquire sensitive nuclear capabilities make sense only as part of a nuclear weapons program." (Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2007): A12.
Nov. 24, 2003: Having failed to persuade Europeans and IAEA of need for tough action by Security Council, U.S. agrees to IAEA resolution threatening U.N. action if “further significant failures” to abide NPT occur.
Dec. 25, 2003: Iranian police close down all-woman folk dance recital, arrest 25.
January-February 2004: Guardian Council disqualifies more than 2400 parliamentary candidates for insufficient loyalty to Islam; one third of existing Majles members resign in protest. Main reform party boycotts election; conservative hardliners regain control of Majles.
Feb. 24, 2004: IAEA inspectors report evidence of highly enriched uranium suitable for bomb making in Iran. U.S. officials describe this as only suitable for bombs.
March 13, 2004: Iran suspends further IAEA inspections.
April 1, 2004: U.S. announces sanctions against 13 countries and individuals for aiding Iran’s WMD programs.
May 27, 2004: Majles opens with chant of “Death to America.”
June 1, 2004: IAEA report: Iran has tried to mislead IAEA.
July 24, 2004: Court in Tehran acquits intelligence official tried in the case of Zahra Kazemi. Iran barred Canadian and other international journalists from covering the trial. Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham expressed his "extreme outrage" over these conditions under which the trial was conducted, and ordered the Canadian Ambassador to Tehran recalled for a second time over the affair. His successor as foreign minister, Pierre Pettigrew, described the Iranian judicial process as a "farce" after the acquittal was announced. Once new Canadian Ambassador Gordon Venner arrived in Tehran (November 2004), he was threatened by Iranian officials.
October 20, 2004: Iran tests missile with 1250 mi range.
October 24, 2004: Iran rejects joint UK, FR, German proposal to suspend uranium enrichment. The next day in an election campaign appearance, Vice President Cheney stated that "They're already sitting on an awful lot of oil and gas. Nobody can figure why they need nuclear, as well, too, to generate energy." (Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2007): A12.
Oct. 31, 2004: Majles unanimously passes law requiring resumption of uranium enrichment, chants “Death to America.”
November 2004: In reversal, Iran agrees to suspend uranium enrichment as part of deal with Europeans.
January 2005: Well informed U.S. journalist Seymour Hersh publishes New Yorker article alleging that U.S. is developing war plans against Iran, and that clandestine operations in advance of such a war are already under way.
Feb. 2, 2005: In his State of the Union address, Pres. Bush states: "Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror -- pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve." (Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2007): A12.
Feb. 16, 2005: Iran and Syria announce a new formal alliance against mutual threats. Though the U.S. is not named, it clearly is the object this announcement.
Feb. 18, 2005:MEMRI reported on news from the IRNA News Agency (official Iranian source) on Feb. 12, 2005. Dankowitz wrote: "Marking the 16th anniversary of the Fatwa calling for author Salman Rushdie's death issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards announced: 'The day will finally come when the apostate Salman Rushdie will receive his due punishment for his disgraceful and slanderous move against the Qur'an and the Prophet [Muhammad].' Iran's Leader Ali Khamenei stressed that the death sentence following the publication of Rushdie's 'The Satanic Verses' "is irrevocable."
Also on Feb. 18, 2005: Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Iranian nuclear experts and stated: "The latest steps by Iran convince Russia that Iran indeed does not intend to produce nuclear weapons and we will continue to develop relations in all sectors, including peaceful atomic energy."
April 1, 2005: Zahra Kazemi case: the Washington Post (page A-24) reported that according to Iranian military physician Shahram Azam (who examined Zahra Kazemi prior to her death in 2003), the Canadian photo journalist had "horrific injuries" not just to her head but throughout her entire body, indicating to him that this could have resulted only from both torture and rape at the hands of Iranian interrogators. His examination of Kazemi occurred on June 26, 2003, i.e. only days after her detention June 23, 2003 by security forces under the direction of religious authorities, and long prior to her transfer to the custody of security forces under the direction of Pres. Khatami. The National Post of Canada, in an editorial entitled "Letting Iran get away with murder," added further details on April 2, 2004. The National Post stated that Azam described Kazemi's condition and found "that her body showed clear evidence of beatings, torture and rape. Among other injuries, Mr. Azam has reported that Ms. Kazemi suffered a burst membrane in her ear, broken fingers, the removal of fingernails, severe abdominal bruising, major swelling on her head, flayed skin resulting from flogging and (according to a nurse who examined her) damage to her 'entire genital area.' " Kazemi died in custody July 10, 2003. Azam spoke up after having been granted political asylum in Canada.
June 2005: Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is elected President, defeating Rafsanjani.
August 4, 2005: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated that "It certainly looks that [Iran] is on a path where they are quite determined to have nuclear weapons." (Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2007): A12.
September 2005: After nuclear negotiations with Britain, France and Germany broke down, U.S. allies agreed to U.S. position that I.A.E.A. should act by referring evident Iranian non-compliance with the NPT to the U.N. Security Council. In response to this increase in pressure on it, and to other nuclear negotiations involving North Korea (i.e., the agreement of Sept. 19), Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani declared on Sept. 20 that Iran intended go ahead with nuclear fuel enrichment. Meeting in Vienna (Austria) on Sept. 24, and finding "non-compliance" and a "history of concealment," the IAEA board then voted to find Iran's nuclear program to be "within the competence of the (U.N.) Security Council. The resolution, however, set no date for that referral, suggesting more negotiation with Iran could occur. In an interesting break from its traditional role as a Third World advocate, India voted with the West and against Iran in the IAEA Board meeting. T
wenty-two states joined with the United States and its European allies in making the resolution, including Canada, Australia and Japan, India, Peru, Singapore and Ecuador. Twelve othersabstained from taking a position, including Russia and China. (The others electing to abstain were developing nations. ) In the final moment, Iran could find only one friend at the IAEA:Venezuela cast the only vote against the resolution.
October 26, 2005: Pres. Ahmadinejad declares: “Israel must be wiped off the map” to 3000 attending a “World Without Zionism Conference.” World leaders, U.N. Sec. Gen. Kofi Annan condemn this outburst.
Nov.-Dec. 2005: Ahmadinejad repeatedly in public refers to the Holocaust as a "myth" and in other ways directly denies the facts of it. (Follow this link for a sampler of quotes from the BBC; and another set from Middle East Media Research Institute); he also is the keynote speaker at a "death to America" rally commemorating the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran.
Jan. 13, 2006: President Bush stated that "a nuclear weapon [in Iran's hands] was unacceptable. And the reason it's unacceptable is because Iran armed with a nuclear weapon poses a grave threat to the security of the world." (Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2007): A12.
January 23, 2006: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that when the meeting of the I.A.E.A. Board of Directors in Vienna convenes in February 2006, the U.S. will insist that the issue of Iran's non-compliance with its obligations be referred to the Security Council of the United Nations. "The Security Council can then take up the matter at a later time, but the referral absolutely has to be made," Rice said. In early February, the I.A.E.A. Board voted to refer Iran to the Security Council, and instructed its Nobel Prize winning director, Mohamed El Baradei, to file a new report on Iran's non-compliance with that body by March 6, 2006.
March 29, 2006: U.N. Security Council demands Iran suspend uranium enrichment, and calls on Iran to demonstrate to IAEA within 30 days that it is in compliance with its treaty obligations.
March 30, 2006: Iran refuses to suspend uranium enrichment. Six powers meet in Berlin to discuss sanctions against Iran; Russia states it is opposed to sanctions. International diplomacy to create a consensus on the issue enters a phase of protracted negotiation.
June 19, 2006: Pres. Bush stated that "The leaders of Iran sponsor terror, deny liberty and human rights to their people, and threaten the existence of our ally Israel. And by pursuing nuclear activities that mask its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, the regime is acting in defiance of its treaty obligations, of the United Nations Security Council and of the International Atomic Energy Agency." (Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2007): A12.
December 23, 2006: U.N. Security Council imposes sanctions on Iran. The resolution's major points:
- Demanded that Iran suspend all enrichment and reprocessing-related activities.
- Banned Iran from exporting a lengthy list of items related to its nuclear and missile programs.
- Ordered all countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs.
- Imposed an asset freeze on 10 companies and 12 individuals related to those programs.
- Banned technical or financial assistance to Iran for its nuclear or missile programs.
- Called on all states "to exercise vigilance" and inform the Security Council sanctions committee regarding the entry or transit through their territory of the Iranians on the U.N. list.
- Limited the International Atomic Energy Agency's technical cooperation with Iran to food, agricultural, medical, safety and other humanitarian purposes.
- Called on all countries to prevent specialized teaching and training for Iranians that would help develop the country's nuclear program.
March 23, 2007, fifteen British sailors and marines patrolling under a U.N. mandate were seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the disputed Shaat-al-Arab waterway that forms the border between Iran and Iraq.
March 24, 2007: U.N. Security Council, by a vote of 15-0, imposes sanctions on Iran for its failure to suspend uranium enrichment. The resolution's major points:
- Banned Iranian arms exports and any country buying Iranian weapons.
- Called on all nations "to exercise vigilance and restraint" in supplying tanks, combat aircraft and other heavy weapons to Iran.
- Froze assets on 15 individuals and 13 organizations and companies.
- Called on all governments and financial institutions not to make any new commitments "of grants, financial assistance, or concessional loans" to the Iranian government.
- Called on all countries to exercise "vigilance and restraint" on the entry or transit through their territory of the individuals who provide support or are involved with Iran's nuclear activities.
- Required all countries report the transit or entry of any of people whose assets have been frozen to the sanctions committee.
September 24, 2007: In a speech at Columbia University in New York, Pres. Ahmadinejad denies that gay people exist in Iran, calls for more "research" into the matter of whether the Holocaust actually happened, and criticizes Israel.
October 2007: The U.S. announces sweeping new sanctions against trade with Iran. On October 17, Pres. Bush stated that "If Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace... We got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. And... I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously." (Washington Post, Dec. 4, 2007): A12.
November 28, 2007: Zahra Kazemi case. The Iranian Supreme Court ordered a new investigation into Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi's 2003 death in custody at the Evian Prison in Tehran ("World in Brief: Iran: New Probe Ordered in Journalist's Death," Washington Post, Nov. 28, 2007: A18).
December 4, 2007: A new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, portions of which were released on this date, substantially backed away from earlier assessments. The report stated that the consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies was that they "Judge with high confidence that in the fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program. [And] Judge with high confidence that the halt lasted at least several years." The new assessment projected that the earliest Iran might produce highly enriched uranium suitable for a nuclear weapon "is 2009, but that this is very unlikely." Almost immediately thereafter, states that had been under U.S. pressure to agree to another U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran (i.e., Russia, China) expressed reluctance to support further sanctions against Iran. Source: Dafna Linzer and Joby Warrick, "U.S. Finds that Iran Halted nuclear Arms Bid in 2003," Washington Post (Dec. 4, 2007): A1, 12. (Two years later, this intelligence estimate comes under withering criticism as naive and probably known to its authors to be false when it was written and leaked to the press.)
March 2008: Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad visits Baghdad, Iraq. While there he signs a number of agreements with the Iraqi Government, and states that all foreign forces should be withdrawn from Iraq. Also in March, new elections in Iran bring an increased conservative majority to the majlis (Parliament), as members who support the theocracy and Ahmadinejad prevail after electoral officials bar moderates and reformers from the balloting.
March 3, 2008: U.N. Security Council passes further sanctions against Iran. The resolution:
- Banned trade with Iran in goods that have both civilian and military uses.
- Authorized inspection of cargo shipments suspected of containing banned items that are transported on planes or ships owned or operated by Iran Air Cargo and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line.
- Introduced financial monitoring of two banks with suspected links to proliferation activities, Bank Melli and Bank Saderat
- Called on all countries "to exercise vigilance" in entering into new trade commitments with Iran
- Ordered countries to freeze the assets of 12 additional companies and 13 individuals with links to Iran's nuclear or ballistic missile programs
- Imposed a travel ban on five individuals linked to Iran's nuclear effort.
May 2008: I.A.E.A. issued a formal statement that Iran was continuing to conceal aspects of its nuclear programs.
2008: In a series of test firings across the year, Iran launched various rockets, and claimed to have put one into orbit (in August), and to have deployed one, the Shahad-3, that was said to be capable of delivering warheads onto Israel (in July).
September 2008: U.N. Security Council again unanimously passed resolution demanding that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment projects. However, no sanctions were attached to the resolution, at the insistence of Russia.
December 2008: Iranian police raid and close the offices of the human rights organization founded by Nobel Prize for Peace winner Shirin Ebadi.
February 2009: At a rally celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Pres. Ahmadinejad states that he would welcome improved relations with the United States so long as the dialogue moving in that direction is one conducted in an atmosphere of "mutual respect."
March 3-4, 2009: At the yearly hate-fest against Israel it hosts, both Iranian leaders deliver viciously anti-Israel, and anti-U.S. speeches, that also criticize the Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Governments.
March 20, 2009: In an extraordinary message to the Iranian people and the Iranian Government on the occasion of the Persian festival of Nowruz, U.S. President Barack Obama urges improvement in U.S.-Iranian relations. Obama states that "at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together... So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders. We have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect. You, too, have a choice. The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."
March 21, 2009: Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei replied to Pres. Obama by denouncing U.S. policies in the Middle East under Obama as following the "same misguided track" as that followed by his U.S. predecessors. He said: "My advice to the American officials - to the president and to the others - is to think carefully about these things. Give it to someone to translate it for you - but don’t give it to the Zionists to translate... As long as the U.S. government continues to conduct its actions and its policies against us as it has done for the past 30 years, we will [also] be the same people we have been in these 30 years, gaining strength and experience from day to day… for our nation hates to be addressed in [the language of] threats and enticements… We will judge the new American president by the outcome of his actions."
April 2, 2009: In a further direct reply to Pres. Obama's message of March 20, Pres. Ahmadinejad states that "any hand outstretched to attack us will be cut off." He continued, saying: ""We advise you to correct your behavior, since the world is changing… Stop the egotism, the aggression, and the lack of manners. Speak to the [world's] nations in a correct manner and politely…"
April 7, 2009: New York City prosecutors issued a 118 count indictment charging that through bogus front companies established for the purpose of concealment, and utilizing unknowing international banks, Iranian agents and Chinese businessmen working on their behalf have attempted to export materials from the U.S. to Iran to assist Iran's ballistic missiles and nuclear programs in violation of U.N. sanctions and U.S. laws. The indictment was reported to enumerate more than 33,000 lbs. in aluminum alloy used in ballistic missiles, 66,000 lbs. in tungsten copper used in missile guidance systems, and 53,900 lbs. in super-hard maraging steel rods used in uranium enrichment and in making casings for nuclear bombs.
April 9, 2009: The U.S. announced that henceforth it will participate directly in Western negotiations with Iran about its nuclear program. Previously, the U.S. had conveyed its positions through the E.U. chief negotiator, Javier Solana.
September 22, 2009: In a filing to the I.A.E.A., Iran acknowledged that it has developed a secret nuclear facility previously undisclosed to the I.A.E.A., buried underground near the Shi'ite holy city of Qom. Days later, U.S., French and British officials accuse Iran of concealing work on its nuclear program. French and British leaders are especially harsh in their criticisms. Iran test fired medium range missiles in the days that followed.
October 1, 2009: At a seven nation meeting among Western powers and Iranian representatives, Obama Administration Undersecretary of State William Burns meets separately over lunch with Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili at meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The topic is the nuclear issue. This marks the first direct one-on-one negotiation session between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran in decades. State Department spokesman Robert Wood characterized the exchange: "While the focus of the discussion was on Iran's nuclear program, both sides had a frank exchange on other issues, including human rights." (link to source).
2010-12: Assassinations of Iranian scientists and nuclear specialists. Beginning in January 2010, scientists associated with Iran's nuclear program began to be targeted by unknown assailants using methods usually associated with covert operations conducted by some state's intelligence services.
- The first was physics professor Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, who died January 12, 2010, when a remotely activated bomb exploded as he left his home in Tehran. Though Iran initially blamed Israel for the attack, in August 2011, an Iranian court convicted and sentenced to death an Iranian, Majid Jamali Fashi, for the killing.
- The second was Majid Shahiari, an engineering professor, who was killed Nov. 29, 2011, when a motorcyclist attached a bomb to the car in which he was riding.
- The third was Feyreydoon Abbasi Davani, the man designated to next become head of the Iranian atomic energy agency. He was seriously injured when a motorcyclist attached a bomb to the vehicle in which he was riding.
- The fourth was Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, deputy director of the Natanz nuclear facility, who was killed by an magnetic bomb attached by a motorcylist to his car while he was being driven to work.
June 2010: U.N. Security Council imposes new sanctions on Iran over the nuclear program. Additional financial restrictions on dealings with Iran, and additional weapons are designated as not to be exported to Iran by member states.
September 2010: A computer worm, called STUXNET, is discovered to have made its way onto computers controlling centrifuges involved in the Iranian nuclear program, and to have caused some centrifuges to spin excessively, ruining them.
January 2011: Iranian nuclear official Ali Akbar Salehi declares Iran for the first time is now capable of producing its own fuel rods for its nuclear program.
February 2011: With the permission of the Egyptian (revolutionary) Government, Iranian war ships for the first time in 30+ years transit the Suez Canal and enter the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
May 2011: The Bushehr nuclear plant begins operating, generating power; in September, power generated by the facility is announced to be supplied to the general power grid.
October 2011: The U.S. government arrests an Iranian-American and charges him with involvement in an assassination plot targeting the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States. The plot, which sought to kill the Saudi and untold numbers of innocent Americans also dining in the targeted restaurant (Cafe Milano, Georgetown district, Washington, D.C.), is alleged to have been financed by officials in the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards; and to have sought to conceal the Iranian Government's role by using the Zetas, a Mexican drug cartel as the instrument of the assassination.
November 2011: The IAEA issues a formal report that states that evidence available to the IAEA shows that the Iranian nuclear program has components that have no purpose other than to develop a trigger for a nuclear bomb.
November 2011: A large explosion occurs at an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) missile base, destroying much of the facility and killing General Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, the head of Iran's ballistic missile program. Later in November, a second large blast was reported at Iran's Isfahan uranium conversion facility
November-December 2011: The British Embassy and Ambassador's residence in Tehran are over-run by "students" while Iranian security officials stand idly by. Britain withdraws all diplomats from Iran and expells all Iranian diplomats in London, but formal diplomatic relations technically are not severed.
Early January: Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former Iranian President A. H. Rafsanjani, is sentenced to six months in jail for "propaganda against the state" arising out of her work with the anti-regime Green Movement.
January 2012: The U.S. Government states that Iranian uranium enrichment efforts at the Fordo facility have reached the point where they are producing near weapons grade uranium.
January 11, 2012: Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, deputy director of the Natanz nuclear facility, is killed by an magnetic bomb attached by a motorcylist to his car while he was being driven to work.
January 16, 2012: In an odd coincidence, five days after the Roshan assassination in Iran, Iranian-American Gelareh Bagherzadeh, an Iranian exile and student of molecular genetic technology at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, was shot dead outside her townhouse near the Houston Galleria. An outspoken supporter of women’s rights, the Greens Movement, and regime change in Iran, Ms. Bagherzadeh was not robbed, suggesting that it was a professional hit.
2012: In response to Iran's defiance on the nuclear question, the U.S. and its allies sought to impose a further economic sanction on Iran by persuading its customers to discontinue buying oil from Iran. Initially, Japan agreed with the U.S. request, but China did not. Iran's chief customers are listed below:
December 2011-January 2012: Iran repeatedly threatens to close the Straits of Hormuz, the narrow water passageway between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea (and Indian Ocean). U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta states that interference by Iran with free navigation of the Straits of Hormuz is unacceptable to the United States, and "crosses a red line." The remarks are widely interpreted as a threat of U.S. military action against Iran if shipping through the Straits of Hormuz is disrupted by Iran.
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