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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Relations With Iran

Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Fact Sheet
March 10, 2015


More information about Iran is available on the Iran Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States and Iran (then called Persia) established diplomatic relations in 1883. In the following years, Iran saw the 1906 establishment of a limited constitutional monarchy, a 1953 coup against its democratically elected prime minister that was supported by the United States and the United Kingdom, and a 1979 revolution against the country's hereditary ruler, the shah. The United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran in 1980 after a group of revolutionary Iranian students, angered that the deposed Shah has been allowed to enter the United States, seized the U.S. Embassy Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage. The U.S. Government does not have diplomatic relations with Iran.

The United States has long-standing concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, sponsorship of terrorism, and human rights record. The United States and the international community have imposed comprehensive sanctions against Iran to compel Iran to engage seriously in discussions with the international community and address concerns over its nuclear program and human rights abuses. The United States along with the EU and its P5+1 partners (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK) are currently engaged in talks with Iran to address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program. The current Iranian government still has not recognized Israel’s right to exist, has hindered the Middle East peace process by arming militants, including Hamas, Hizballah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and continues to play a disruptive role in sustaining violence in the region, particularly Syria.

U.S. Assistance to Iran

The State Department and USAID provide Iranian citizens with the tools and training necessary to advocate for their interests, protect citizens’ rights and to communicate securely and freely with each other and the outside world.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The U.S. Government, through executive orders issued by the President as well as congressional legislation, prohibits nearly all trade and investment with Iran by U.S. persons, but maintains broad authorizations and exceptions that allow for the sale of food, medicine, and medical devices by U.S. persons or from the United States to Iran. Sanctions have been imposed on Iran because of its sponsorship of terrorism, its refusal to comply with international obligations on its nuclear program, and its human rights violations.

Iran's Membership in International Organizations

Iran and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Iran also is an observer to the World Trade Organization.

Bilateral Representation

The Embassy of Switzerland in Iran represents U.S. interests, and the Embassy of Pakistan in the United States represents Iranian interests.

More information about Iran is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Iran Country Page
Virtual U.S. Embassy: Iran
History of U.S. Relations With Iran
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page
Library of Congress Country Studies
Travel and Business Information
CIA World Factbook Iran Page

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