The international agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme, billed as ‘historic’, ended years of sanctions that challenged the Islamic Republic.
Long before the UN acted, in 1979 the seizing of American hostages at the US Embassy in Tehran by students behind the Islamic Revolution severed diplomatic ties with Washington. The hostages were finally all freed in January 1981, as President Carter left the White House and Reagan moved in.
Iranian assets in the US were frozen, trade in goods and services fell under a ban from 1979-1987. Following missed opportunities with the first Bush (Sr.) administration, in 1995 sanctions directly targeted oil.
Under an executive order by President Clinton, Washington clamped down on Tehran’s support for organisations the Americans considered terrorist groups.
US and non-US business investment in Iran’s oil industry above 20 million dollars would be subject to penalties.
When President Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005, and lifted a suspension of uranium enrichment, the younger Bush administration lobbied hard for UN sanctions over the nuclear programme. The United Nations Security Council obliged, progressively tightening and extending measures.