Analysis of Shifts in The United States of Americas Foreign Policy towards Iran

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Analysis of Shifts in The United States of America’s Foreign Policy towards Iran
No country can sufficiently function on its own; continued globalization and international
networking has continued to compel countries to associate with others. While some countries
export the products they have in excess, others have to import the same. In return, they receive
those products that cannot be manufactured in their countries from other countries. The whole
scenario is that of a geopolitical organization made up of trading blocks, friendly countries,
enemy states, and emerging issues concerning trade, power, politics, drugs, war, and terrorism
among others. Foreign policy defines strategic plans and established rules that guide a country’s
relations with other states. In the United States, this policy is created with the goal of establishing
continued cooperation with other countries to achieve increased democracy, security, and
prosperity in the global arena (Ford 539). The leading elements of these objectives concern the
welfare of Americans at home and abroad. Thus, the Department of State, which is in charge of
America’s foreign policy, controls importation and exportation of all goods and services
including war equipment. It institutes measures that ensure America can achieve commercial
interaction with other states. It further proceeds to protect both American businesses and citizens
abroad. Other topics involved encompass international education, formation of cooperation
blocks, and international commodity agreements among others. This paper analyzes changes in
the United States of America’s foreign policy towards Iran because of historical events.
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United States and Iran: 1950 to 1979
The relationship between Iran and the United States of America from 1950 to 1979 was
characterized by cooperation and mutuality in many ways. Notably, the government in place at
that time was friendly to the American government since America had assisted its ascent to
power. These governments had even cooperated earlier than this as Arthur C. Millspaugh had
been sent from the United States to Iran to issue economic advisory services in 1923 (Kramrisch
250). As at the time, the Shah government ruled Iran, then referred to as Persia. His arrival to
Iran initiated the continued advisory on economics, assessment of viability for investment, and
the perceived neutralization of increased European influence in the region. This was to end in
1928, when the advisor and the United States fell out with the Iranian government.However, in
1953, the American Central Intelligence Agency and British intelligence organized and
facilitated a coup of Mr. Mossadegh and the Shah in Iran.
The most notable elements of this was related to American and British interests in Iran’s
petroleum products. The old regime had made contacts with the soviets and had initiated the
exportation of petroleum products. Considering that USSRwas an enemy to both the United
States and Britain, it was clear that American business interests were at stake. Thus, allies
installed Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who ruled as an authoritarian monarch and acted in favor of
the Western Powers (Kramrisch 156). This government would help protect the interest of the US
in businesses and petroleum products in Iran.
The change opened America’s foreign policy and relations with Iran to increased
cooperation in terms of business, technology, administration, and information sharing. In the
March of 1957, the US made an agreement with Iran concerning the generation and use of
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nuclear energy for civil purposes. This was drawn from President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace
program. Iran signed the deal to receive enriched uranium from the United States, but had to
agree to controlled peaceful usage restricted to civil consumption alone (Seliktar 78). In 1962,
the same continued cooperation saw the shah travel to the United States on a state visit to
President John F. Kennedy. Discussing with the president, he expressed the need for
strengthening democracy to prevent communism, warning that it was a threat tothe state. On the
other hand, the United States had to increase and continue its foreign aid to Iran.
Two events were to happen in 1968 and 1975 that would further enhance the foreign ties
between Iran and the U.S. The first was the Nonproliferation Treaty, which was originally signed
by 51 countries that compelled all the nations not to distribute nuclear weapons of mass
destruction. Iran was among the states that accented to this treaty, and its parliament ratified the
same by 1970. Following this, President Gerald Ford went ahead and forged an agreement with
the Iranian government in 1975. The view of this process was for commercial and not weapon
development (Belmonte and Edward 336). Thus, U.S. allowed Iran to purchase and utilize
reprocessing plants to extract plutonium.
The cooperation between the U.S. and Iran continued for three more years, and the two
had favorable foreign policies of mutual benefit towards one another. On the New Year’s Eve of
1977, the then American President Jimmy Carter visited Iran to solidify administrative and
business ties. Him and the Shah shared toasts in which Carter proclaimed that Iran was an island
of peace and political stability because of the leadership of the Shah (Sneh 236). However, event
were to take a drastic turn to sour the relationship of the United States and Iran as the Shah got
overthrown in 1979.
United States and Iran: Post 1979
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The build up to the events in 1979 had progressively developed with the Shah continuously
losing favor with the locals. Largely, the Shah was seen as serving Western interests more than
those of Iran. Thus, individual beliefs had transformed from the needs for democracy and human
rights protection to perceived need for nationalism. This was the reason for the progressive
buildup of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. This led to the overthrow of the Shah’s government
who travelled in exile to Egypt and would later diein the United States as President Carter stated
in a briefing after the revolution. It would be ordinary to expect a disillusioned attitude from
civilian Iranians; however, this was not the case. The return of an exiled cleric Ayotollah
Ruhollah Khomeini at this time saw the celebration of Iranians in mammoth crowds on the
streets of Tehran (Shaffer 77). Although President Jimmy Carter expressed the hope of
America’s good relationships with Iran continuing, numerous changes would twist this desire
and shape America’s foreign policy towards Iran in different ways.
Thirteen days later, the new Prime Minister of Iran Shahpur Bakhtiar cancelled a deal
with the American government on the construction of nuclear plants. Both plants were to be
constructed in the Darkhoein province and were to cost a total of $6.2 billion. As of the time of
the cancellation, the government of Iran had released $240 million as a down payment. This was
the onset of numerous changes in Iran-U.S. relations.
Perhaps, the most notable event in relation to the uprising and resulting U.S. foreign
policy towards Iran was the return of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran from exile. Besides having a
grand reception, the cleric was informally approved and viewed as the symbol of the concluded
successful revolution (Shaffer 78). Markedly, he was extremely anti-West and considered
Western occupants of Iran as intruders who had come to take away Iranian’s freedom and
resources. Hence, he felt charged with the responsibility of protecting the resources and the
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citizens to the advantage of Iran against foreigners. This began by a declaration to expel all
foreigners to go back to their landimmediately. For American investors in civilian capacities, this
was, perhaps, the most unfortunate moment. All their resources were seized, and those who made
it out of Iran forewent their investments to escape for their lives.
In response, the American state department evacuated at least 1350 Americans on the day
the cleric returned to Tehran. The Cleric proceeded with this authority to take over the country
and install himself as the leader. It is then that he introduced the system of quasi theocracy that
has continued to remain in power to date (Seliktar 18). Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini did not just
stop at taking power. After going on exile into the United States, the Shah was diagnosed with
cancer and was undergoing treatment for the same at a hospital in New York. On the 4
November 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini sponsored Iranian militants who stormed the
American Embassy in Tehran and took the employees in the building hostage. Their demands
were that the Shah be returned to Iran to face trial for crimes the new regime claimed he had
committed against their law (Kaufman 262).
President Jimmy Carter responded to these demands seven days later and made it clear
that America would not extradite the deposed Shah whatsoever. He said that the demands of the
Iranians holding embassy employees hostage were unrealistic and undemocratic. In response, he
suspended all imports of oil from Iran on the same day. After eight days, Ayatollah released ten
hostages among whom were four women and six black men. His reasoning stated that black men
were always oppressed in the American society and deserved some favor. Contrarily, he
expressed Islam’s respect for women as the reason for their release (Bowden 363).
Numerous events would follow including a foiled rescue attempt by the U.S. and the
death of the Shah in Egypt. After being held hostage for 444 days, the hostages would be
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released after the American government agreed to various conditions from Iranian
administrators. They would avoid political and military interference in Iran. They would also
have to free all assets that had previously been frozen. Other than these, modern American
foreign policies on Iran have dwelt more on nuclear weapons and international security.
Even after all the preceding events, Iran had consistently allowed the inspection of its
nuclear projects. It emerged in 2003 that the state had participated in the enrichment of Uranium
for weapon development. Despite attempts to stop the same by the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), Ebel explains that Iran resumed the production, posing a security threat to the
United States and the rest of the world. Noting that the Iranian government may be sponsoring
terror groups like Hezbollah and others (9), the U.S. has severed its relationships with Iran and
imposed numerous sanctions including restricting goods and services like missiles, nuclear
products, shipping industry, insurance, and banking businesses.
In conclusion, the foreign policy of the United States towards Iran has had divergent shifts from
favorable to unfavorable. In 1953, Americans assisted in overthrowing a former regime in Iran
and installed a favorable one. The countries had friendly ties with political and business
cooperation. American investors visited Iran and vice versa. The U.S. Government even assisted
the Iranian government to initiate civil use of nuclear energy. However, the overthrow of the
Shah in 1979 and increased aggression towards American citizens made America change its
policies towards Iran. America has consistently sought all possible avenues to neutralize the
perceived security threats of nuclear in Iran through sanctions and other means.
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Works Cited
Belmonte, Monica L, and Edward C. Keefer. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969-1976:
Volume Xxvii. Washington: U.S. G.P.O, 2012. Print.
Bowden, Mark. Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam.
New York: Grove Press, 2006. Print.
Ebel, Robert E. Geopolitics of the Iranian Nuclear Energy Program: But Oil and Gas Still
Matter : a Report of the Csis Energy and National Security Program. Washington, D.C:
Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2010. Print.
Ford, Lynne E. American Government and Politics Today. Belmont, California: Wadsworth,
2013. Print.
Kaufman, Burton I. The Carter Years. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications Limited, 2006.
Kramrisch, Stella. The Presence of S
iva. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2014. Print.
Seliktar, Ofira. Navigating Iran: From Carter to Obama. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Shaffer, Brenda. Borders and Brethren: Iran and the Challenge of Azerbaijani Identity.
Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2002. Print.
Sneh, Itai N. The Future Almost Arrived: How Jimmy Carter Failed to Change U.s. Foreign
Policy. New York, NY: Lang, 2008. Print.

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