Britain and the Soviet Union invade western Iran to counter the threat of expanding Nazi influence. [1]


October - Mohammed Mossadegh successfully leads the move to reject a proposal to set up a joint Irano-Soviet oil company to exploit the oil of Northern Iran. [12]


World War II having ended, Iran becomes a target of both pro-Western and pro-Soviet forces with regard to the country's vast oil reserves. [1]


General Ali Razmara becomes prime minister of Iran. [1]

Support grows for the nationalization of Iran's oil industry. [1]

The Iranian oil industry is controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), later to become British Petroleum, owned partly by the British Government and partly by British citizens. AIOC's revenues from the industry are greater than those of the Iranian government. The Iranian government is receiving between 10% and 12% of the net profits, whilst the British government is receiving as much as 30% in taxes alone. The AIOC also paid low wages to Iranians, treated them poorly and effectively ruled the oil producing regions. [3]


March - Prime Minister Ali Razmara is assassinated. [1]

A bill for nationalising the the British owned Ango Iranian Oil (AIOC) company, the only oil company in Iran, is passed. Mohammed Mossadegh led the parliamentary movement driving for this change. [12]

April - Mossadegh is elected Prime minister by a large majority of Parliament. [12]

May 1st - Nationalisation of the AIOC goes into effect. Mossadegh tells the Iranian people that they "were opening a hidden treasure on which lies a dragon". [12]

Britain warns Iran that any attempt to take over British oil properties without negotiations would have "the most serious consequences." [2]

The Iranian government offers to set aside 25% of the net oil profits to compensate the British; it guarantees the safety and jobs of British employees and is willing to sell its oil through the established control system. The British refuse to listen. [3] [12]

Aided by the US government and oil companies the British institute an international economic blockade of Iran and freeze its assets. This pushes the already poor country to near destitution. From the impoverished Iran, Britain demands compensation for not only the physical assets of the AIOC, but for the initial development and for loss of future profits, regardless of the huge profits they had already made. [3] [12]

June - Attlee government begins covert plan to overthrow Iranian prime minister Musaddegh following the latter’s nationalisation of oil operations. They plan to install Sayyid Zia as Prime Minister, because although he has no popular support they believe he will give them a favourable oil settlement. [3]

Invasion is also considered, but the British government concludes that it cannot deploy sufficient troops for success. [3]

July - A demonstration organised by the Iranian Communist Party (The Tudeh) is brutally suppressed by the Mossadegh government. About 100 people die and about 500 are injured. [12]

October - Churchill, now the British Prime Minister, berates his predecessors for not using force against the Iranians. [3]

November - A British Foreign Office official reports that the 'unoffical efforts to undermine Dr. Mossadegh are making good progress'. [3]


The British government now favours establishing a dictatorship in Iran, with a 'strong man' ruling in the name of the Shah. General Zahidi, formerly imprisoned by the British for pro-Nazi activities, is identified as a suitable candidate and discussions are begun with him. [3]

July - Due to growing friction between the shah and Mossadegh over oil, Mossadegh resigns. Ahmed Ghavam takes over as prime minister. Three days of rioting ensue. [1]

Under pressure, the Shah is forced to reappoint Mossadegh. [1]

The International Court of Justice rules that it has no jurisdiction in the British-Iranian dispute over oil nationalization. [4]

August - A British embassy official meets with Zahidi and records that he is willing to take on the premiership. He suggests that Zahidi makes this known to the US. [3]

October - The Iranian government closes down the British embassy, because ot the intrigues going on there. [3]

November - The British Churchill government approaches the US for help in overthrowing Mossadegh. British pay offs have already secured cooperation from senior officers of the army and police, deputies and senators, mullahs, merchants, newspaper editors, elder statesmen, and mob leaders. [3] [12]


January - A US State Department report rules out any possibility that the Tudeh could come to power in Iran. [12]

February - A British delegation meets the CIA director and the US Secretary of State, whilst the head of the CIA's operation, Kermit Roosevelt, is dispatched to Iran to investigate the situation. [3]

April - A C.I.A. study entitled "Factors Involved in the Overthrow of Mossadegh" is completed. The study concludes that a coup in Iran is possible. [1]

May - C.I.A. and British intelligence officers meet in Nicosia, Cyprus, to draft plans for the coup. Meanwhile, the C.I.A.'s Tehran station is granted approval to launch a "grey propaganda" campaign to discredit the Mossadegh government. [1]

June - The final operation plan for the coup, agreed upon by both the C.I.A. and British intelligence, is submitted to the U.S. State Department and the Foreign Office in London. [1] [3] [12]

July – Churchill and Eisenhower give final approval to the operational plan for the coup. [1] [3]

Under pressure from the C.I.A., Princess Ashraf, the Shah's sister, flies to Tehran from France in order to convince the Shah to sign the royal decrees that would dismiss Mossadegh. [1]

The C.I.A. intensifies a propaganda effort, which included planting stories in major American newspapers, to weaken the Mossadegh government. [1]

August - In a meeting with Gen. H. Norman Schwartzkopf, the Shah refuses to sign the C.I.A.-written royal decrees firing Mossadegh and naming Gen. Zahedi as the new prime minister of Iran. [1]

Mossadegh, suspecting that British and American governments were plotting against him, holds a referendum calling for the Iranian parliament to be dissolved. [1]

13th - The shah signs a royal decree dismissing Mossadegh. Word of the shah's support for the coup spreads quickly in Iran. [1] [12]

15th - Mossadegh refuses to abdicate, maintaining that only parliament can dismiss him. He denounces Zahedi as a traitor and tries to have him arrested, but the CIA hide him. [12]

After hearing a prearranged signal given by the BBC in its Persian language broadcast, the shah flees to Rome via Baghdad. [1] [3] [12]

Belatedly, the CIA recruit Iranian agents to try and gain military support for the coup. The CIA make copies of the Shah's decree for distribution to the public. [12]

16th - A mass demonstration in support of Mossadegh is organised by the ruling coalition. [1] [12]

19th - With access to $1 million of US cash the CIA's Iranian agents buy a mob and stage a pro Shah, anti Mossadegh parade. British agents had also already received £1.5 million to facilitate the coup. During the march pro Shah troops take over Radio Tehran and it is announced that Mossadegh has been dismissed and General Zahedi is the new Prime Minister. This is not true, but the CIA now brings Zahedi out of hiding to install him. [1] [3] [12]

The US Military Mission in Iran supplies hardware and supplies to aid the coup. [3] [12]

A nine hour battle ensues in front Mossadegh's house, between soldiers loyal to Mossadegh and those supporting Zahedi. Some 300 people are killed and hundreds more wounded before Mossadegh's defenders are defeated. [1] [3] [12]

20th - Mossadegh, who had gone into hiding after yesterday's defeat, gives himself up. [1]

22nd - The Shah returns to Iran. [1]

The coup is portrayed to the US and British public as a response to the threat of a communist takeover, although both governments had concluded that there was no threat of this happening. [3] [12]

In the years after the coup Iran is a close ally to the USA. The Shah places the country at the disposal of the US military and intelligence organisations. Bases are set up for cold war operations against the Soviet Union across Iran's over 1,000 mile border with the USSR. [12]

Britain too builds a monitoring station on the Iran-Soviet border which is protected by the SAS. SAS soldiers are also loaned to Iran to help train the Shah's special forces for operations against Kurdish guerillas in northern Iran. [3]

For most people life under the Shah becomes one of poverty, police terror and torture. The Iranian secret police, SAVAK, created with the help of the CIA and Israel, grow to operate worldwide in putting down Iranian dissidents. [3] [12]

The CIA begins to make payments to the ayatollahs to ensure their support for the Shah. These continue until 1977, when President Carter halts them. [12]

December 21st - Mossadegh is sentenced to three years solitary confinement by a military tribunal. [1]


With Zahedi acting as prime minister and the pro-Shah army units in control, hundreds of National Front leaders, communist Tudeh Party officers and political activists are arrested. [1]

Mossadegh's minister of foreign affairs, Hossein Fatemi, is sentenced to death and executed. [1]

The British lose their exclusive oil rights. They now have 40%, US oil firms have 40%, the rest is given to other countries. The British are generously compensated for their former property. [3] [12]

The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resumes operation. [1]


February - Iran joins the Baghdad Pact, a coalition set up by the US to oppose the Soviet Union. [12]


Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a religious leader, is exiled to Turkey after his arrest for speaking out against the shah's relationship with the United States. [1]


May - The CIA complies with the Shah's request to help arm the Kurds in Iraq who were fighting for independence. The Shah wanted the Kurds to be more of a drain on Iraq's resources, thus distracting Iraq from an ongoing border dispute with Iran. [12]


Iran, encouraged by the US, seeks to replace the Soviet Union as Afghanistan's biggest donor with a $2 billion economic aid agreement. Iran's infamous secret police, SAVAK, also fingers suspected Communist sympathisers in the Afghan government and military. [12]


March - The Shah, who since 1973 had desired to strengthen Iran's position in OPEC by coming to agreements with other Arab states, comes to an agreement with Iraq. The Shah cuts off all supplies to the Kurds and Iraq launches an offensive against them. The Kurds plead for help from the CIA and Kissenger, whom they believed were their allies, but neither make any response and the Kurds are defeated. 200,000 Kurds flea into Iran where they receive little humanitarian assistance. Iran later forcibly returns over 40,000 of them. The US government refuses to admit any Kurds into the US as refugees. When later interviewed by the Pike Committee about this affair, Kissinger responds: "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work." [12]

September - Prodded by Iran, which is conditioning its aid on such policies, the Afghan leader, Daoud, dismisses 40 Soviet trained military officers and moves to reduce future Afghan dependence on officer training in the USSR by initiating training arrangements with India and Egypt. [12]


Amnesty International reports that Iran has the "highest rate of death penalties in the world, no valid system of civilian courts and a history of torture which is beyond belief. No country in the world has a worse record in human rights than Iran." [3] [12]

Such is the fruit of the regime installed and backed by the US government.


Turmoil sweeps Iran. Khomeini establishes an opposition movement in Paris. [1]


January - The Iranian revolution forces the shah to leave. [1]

February - Khomeini returns to proclaim an Islamic republic. [1]

The Afghan government accuses Iran of aiding the mujahedeen gorillas trying to bring them down. [12]

October - The Shah is allowed into the United States for cancer treatment in New York. [1]

November - With Khomeini's support, Iranian students occupy the American Embassy in Tehran. Fifty-two Americans are held hostage for 444 days. The United States freezes Iranian assets. [1]

US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski then publicly encourages Iraq to attack Iran and take back the Shatt-al-Arab waterway. [5]


The United States breaks ties with Iran, bans American exports to the country and expels Iranian diplomats. [1]

April - A secret American military mission to rescue the hostages is aborted because of bad weather. Eight servicemen die in a helicopter crash. The shah dies in Egypt at age 60. [1]

August - The U.S. provide Iraq with intelligence reports that Iran would quickly collapse in the face of an Iraqi advance. At the urging of U.S.-backed Arab rulers in Kuwait, Egypt and elsewhere, Saddam Hussein unleashes a war with Iran in which hundreds of thousands die. [5] [14]

The attack serves U.S. interests by weakening Iran, where U.S. embassy personnel were still kept hostage. The U.S. do not want either side to win. [5]

To sustain the eight year war Iraq receive massive assistance, direct and indirect, from the U.S.S.R., Eastern bloc countries, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, the U.S., U.K., France, and West Germany. The Pentagon and CIA provides Iraq with satellite and AWACS intelligence on Iranian forces. The U.S. send CIA and Special Forces to train Iraqi commandos and the U.S. helps funnel billions of dollars worth of arms to Iraq. [5]

This war is the first to use chemical weapons since the US invasion of Vietnam. Between 1978 and 1988 the US ships seven strains of anthrax to Iraq. [14]

Egypt, a major recipient of U.S. military aid, sends troops, tanks and heavy artillery to Iraq. In 1980, the military dictatorship in Turkey - a major recipient of U.S. military aid - sends troops to fight rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan, freeing Iraq's army to concentrate on fighting Iran. [5]

The U.S.-supported regimes in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia also support Iraq's war effort. Kuwait's contributes over $30 billion. The U.S. sell over $20 billion worth of arms to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states during this period and allow Saudi Arabia to transfer large quantities of U.S. arms to Iraq during the war. [5]

Israel supplies arms to Iran for the war against Iraq, their stated aim, like that of the US government, is to prolong the war as long as possible. [14]

The UK openly supplies arms to Iraq, but also MI6 work with an Iranian born arms dealer, Jamshid Hashemi, to help supply foreign arms to Iran, in direct violation of the British Government's guidelines. In one deal British made motorboats, reinforced to carry heavy machine guns, are exported to Iran via Greece. These boats are used against civilian shipping in the tanker war in the gulf in the mid 1980's. [3]

During the war between the Soviets and the mujahedeen in Afghanistan the US pours billions of dollar worth of arms into the region. Some never gets to the Afghans and the Afghans themselves sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth to whomsoever will pay. Some of it ends up in the hands of the Iranian military. [12]


The hostages are released minutes after President Carter's term ends. A United States-Iran claims tribunal is set up in The Hague. [1]


After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June and the subsequent introduction of Western troops, Iran sends 1,500 Revolutionary guards to the Syrian controlled Bekaa valley. Soon after, Hizbullah is organised under Iranian sponsorship. [14]


March - The UN reports that Iraq has used poison gas against Iranian troops. [14]


Oliver North tells Iranian officials that the US will try to engineer the overthrow of Hussein. Until 1986 the US funnelled arms to Iran through Oliver North, Israel and Pakistan. [5] [6] [7] (See Nicaragua.)


Revelations emerge of an American deal to exchange arms for Iranian help in freeing hostages held in Lebanon. [1]

UN confirm that Iraq is using chemical weapons against Iran. [8]


Iran and Iraq start trying to destroy each other's oil facilities. Kuwait calls on the USSR and USA for naval protection. The possibility of Soviet involvement enables the US to justify becoming directly involved on Iraq's side, flagging Kuwaiti tankers in the Gulf, escorting ships carrying Iraqi oil, sinking Iranian patrol ships and destroying oil platforms, thus establishing a military presence in the Gulf. [8]

October - Iranian Revolutionary Guards fire a Stinger missile at a US helicopter patrolling the Persian gulf, but miss. The Stinger missile is a US weapon. The Iranians had bought a number of these missiles from the mujahedeen who had been given them by the US to help fight the Soviets with. [12]


The American cruiser Vincennes mistakenly shoots down an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 aboard. [1]

In the spring, Iran, with the assistance of the Kurdish Rebel Organisations the PUK and KDP, launch an offensive into Northern Iraq capturing the town of Halabja on the 15th of March. The next day the Iraqi airforce bomb Halabja with poison gas, causing 5000 deaths. [8] [9]

David Mellor, then a Foreign Office minister, was allegedly visiting Baghdad at the time. Within a month Defence Minister Tony Newton had returned to Baghdad to offer, on behalf of the British Thatcher government £340 million in export credits. Britain's trade with Iraq had risen from £2.9 million in 1987 to £31.5 million. Iraq becomes Britain's third biggest market for 'dual-use' machine tools. [8]

In August Iran and Iraq agree a cease fire. [8]

Western sources estimate casualties at nearly 400,000 dead and 780,000 wounded: one quarter Iraqi, three quarter Iranian. The cost of the war exceeded the entire oil revenue received by Iran and Iraq since they started to sell their oil on the world market in 1949 and 1931 respectively. [8]

One day after the cease-fire Kuwait decides to increase oil production, violating OPEC agreements and sending the crude oil price from 21 US dollars to 11 dollars a barrel, costing Iraq 14 billion a year in lost revenues; this at a time when Iraq and Iran needed stable prices to reconstruct. Bahrain also began to increase production. [8]


Ayatollah Khomeini dies and is replaced as the nation's spiritual leader by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The speaker of Iran's Parliament, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is elected president. [1]


December - Elliot Abrams who had pleaded guilty to misdemeanors in the Iran- contra affair is pardoned by President Bush. He is later appointed by Bush II to lead the National Security Council office for Near East and North African affairs...... [13]


The Clinton administration starts a campaign to isolate Iran, accusing it of supporting terrorism, seeking nuclear arms and trying to derail Middle East peace. [1]


President Clinton signs a law that imposes sanctions on foreign companies investing heavily in "terrorist" Iran or Libya. [1]


Mohammad Khatami, a moderate cleric, wins Iran's presidential election. Clinton calls the election hopeful, but insists that ties are not possible until Iran renounces terrorism, opposition to the Middle East peace effort and weapons of mass destruction. [1]

Clinton asks Khatami for help in solving the 1996 bombing of a Saudi building in which 19 American servicemen died and hundreds were wounded. [1]

The Clinton administration renews an offer for talks "on the basis of equality and mutual respect." Iran rejects the offer two days later. [1]

The United States agrees to let Boeing provide Iran's national airline with parts to ensure the safety of its 747's. [1]


Khatami proposes cultural exchanges as a way to end mistrust, but rules out a government-to-government dialogue. [1]

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright invites Iranians to join with the United States in drawing up "a road map leading to normal relations." Iran responds that such a step must be followed up by acts. [1]


The Clinton administration announces it will let American companies sell food and medical items to three countries off-limits as terrorist — Iran, Libya and Sudan. [1]


Albright announces the lifting of a ban on American imports of Iranian luxury goods. She acknowledges America's role in the 1953 coup, coming closer to apologizing for it than any American official ever has. [1]


The US alleges that elements within the Iranian Government were directly involved in the bombing of an American military base in Saudi Arabia in 1996. Tehran angrily rejects the allegations. [11]

Report by Central Intelligence Agency accuses Iran of having one of the world's most active programmes to acquire nuclear weapons. The CIA report says Iran is seeking missile-related technology from a number of countries including Russia and China. [11]


US President George Bush describes Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil", warning of the proliferation of long-range missiles being developed in these countries. The speech causes outrage in Iran and is condemned by reformists and conservatives alike. [10]

Russian technicians begin construction of Iran's first nuclear reactor at Bushehr despite strong objections from US. [10]

The US accuses Iran of seeking to develop a secret nuclear weapons programme and publishes satellite images of two nuclear sites under construction at Natanz and Arak. [11]


February-May - The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducts a series of inspections in Iran. The country confirms that there are sites at Natanz and Arak under construction, but insists that these, like Bushehr, are designed solely to provide fuel for future power plants. [11]

Iran offers "full cooperation" with the US government on the issues of "nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups." The US turn the offer down. [30] [31]

June - White House refuses to rule out the "military option" in dealing with Iran after IAEA says Iran "failed to report certain nuclear materials and activities". But IAEA does not declare Iran in breach of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. [11]

Thousands attend student-led protests in Tehran against clerical establishment. [10]

October-November - Tehran agrees to suspend its uranium enrichment programme and allow tougher UN inspections of its nuclear facilities. An IAEA report says Iran has admitted producing plutonium but adds there is no evidence that it was trying to build an atomic bomb. However, US dismisses the report as "impossible to believe". The IAEA votes to censure Iran but stops short of imposing sanctions. [11]


June - Iran is rebuked by the IAEA for failing to fully cooperate with an inquiry into its nuclear activities. [10]

Three British naval craft and their crews are impounded after allegedly straying into Iranian waters. The eight servicemen are released four days later. [10]

November - Iran agrees to suspend most of its uranium enrichment as part of deal with EU. [10]


August - Iran accuses Britain and the USA of fomenting ethnic strife in the oil rich region of Khuzestan near the Iraqi border. Clashes there in recent months have left several dead. [15]

September - British troops in Basra, Iraq, raid a police station to free two British commandos who were arrested whilst dressed as Arabs and in possession of bomb making materials. This region of Iraq neighbours the Khuzestan region of Iran..... [16]

Iran resumes uranium conversion experiments. Under pressure from the governments of the USA, Britain, France and Germany, this move is condemned by the IAEA, but despite reports to the contrary, Iran has not yet breached any binding international agreements including the Nuclear Non- proliferation Treaty (NPT). The IAEA's own reports confirm this. [17] [18]


February - Despite there being no evidence of Iran having breached the NPT the US government succeeds in getting them referred to the UN Security Council. [17] [19]

March - A top US military official says he has no evidence that the Iranian government has been sending military equipment and personnel into neighboring Iraq. This in stark contrast to claims made by President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. [48]

April - Iran announces that it has successfully enriched uranium on a small scale. There remains no sign of the alleged weapons program. [20]

The Russian government refuses to agree to sanctions against Iran until there is proof of Iran having a nuclear weapons program. [21]

The US government is again accused of running covert operations in Iran aimed at destabilising the country. [22]

The British government is advised by Foreign Office lawyers that it would be illegal to support military action against Iran. Jack Straw, the UK Foreign Minister, declares military action to be "inconceivable". [23]

Iran says it is prepared to fully cooperate with the IAEA, but wants its case removed from the UN Security Council's jurisdiction. US government says this is insufficient. The IAEA is still unable to find any evidence of a weapons program. Contrary to various media reports no deadline is issued by the Security Council for Iran to halt uranium enrichment. Many fear that the US government is fabricating this "crisis" as a prelude to war. [24] [25] [26] [27] [28]

June - Iran's president Ahmadinejad is widely misquoted in the western media as having said Israel should be "wiped off the map". He didn't. [29]

July - UN Security Council passes resolution giving Iran one month to suspend uranium enrichment. Iran rejects the move. [32]

September - The IAEA publicly critises as US report on Iran's nuclear aims, calling parts of it "outrageous and dishonest". [33]

The US government issue orders for a major "strike group" of ships to be sent to the Persian Gulf, just off Iran's western coast. [34] US covert ops are already said to be underway within Iran. [35]

October - British patrols in Iraq say that, contrary to US allegations, they have found no evidence that Iran is supplying or training insurgents in Iraq. [36]

Ships from the US, Britain, France, Italy, Australia and Bahrain, participate in a naval exercise in the Persian Gulf. [37]

November - Iran bears little resemblance to its portrayal in the western media. [38]

A CIA assessment finds no firm evidence of a secret drive by Iran to develop nuclear weapons, as alleged by the White House. The White House dismisses the report. [39] [42]

The US government is reportedly supporting Kurdish rebels in Iran in order to destablise the country. [40]

Iran agrees to give the IAEA access to equipment and records from two of its nuclear sites. [41]

December - Iran hosts a conference on the Holocaust. [43]

Iran's parliament votes to revise its ties with the IAEA after the UN Security Council imposes limited sanctions on Iran for its refusal to cease uranium enrichment. [44]

The US and British governments send more warships to the Persian Gulf. [45]


January - Israel prepares for a possible attack upon Iran. [46]

US forces storm an Iranian consulate in Iraq, alleging involvement in supporting insurgent forces. [47]

The US and Israeli governments are again reported to be supporting Kurdish rebels in Iran in order to put the government of Iran under pressure. [49] [50]