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Iran: Foreign Policy
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Policy

FOREIGN POLICY


Iran's foreign policy was dramatically reversed following the Revolution. After World War II, Iranian leaders considered their country to be part of the Western alliance system. They actively cultivated relations with the United States, both as a means of protecting their country from perceived political pressures emanating from the Soviet Union and as a matter of genuine ideological conviction.

The Revolution, which was laden with anti-American rhetoric, brought new leaders to power who disapproved of Iran's relationship with the United States. The new leaders were convinced that Washington had tried to maintain the shah in power, despite the mass demonstrations calling for his downfall, and were deeply suspicious of American intentions toward their Revolution. These leaders believed that the United States was plotting to restore the shah to power and were unresponsive to persistent efforts by American diplomats to persuade them that the United States had no ill intentions toward the new regime.

The more radical revolutionaries were determined to eradicate all traces of American influence from Iran. Fearing that the provisional government was seeking an accommodation with the United States, some of these radicals precipitated the seizure of the American embassy in November 1979. Subsequently, they exploited the protracted hostage crisis between Tehran and Washington to achieve their objective of terminating normal relations with the United States. The severing of ties with the United States was regarded not only as essential for expunging American influence from the country but also was considered a prerequisite for implementing their revolutionary foreign policy ideology. This new ideology consisted of two concepts: export of revolution and independence from both the East and the West. By the time the hostage crisis was finally resolved in January 1981, these ideas were embraced by the entire political elite.

Data as of December 1987




Last Updated: December 1987


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iran was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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