The expansion of the Iranian nuclear program announced by Iran in 2003 attracted v. a. the US accused Iran of working on a nuclear weapons program. Iran complied with the request of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to sign the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (IAEA right to examine suspicious nuclear facilities unannounced and in detail) in December 2003 in Vienna. President Ahmadinejad continued the ambivalent Iranian nuclear policy (assurance of readiness to negotiate while at the same time accelerating the nuclear program); his provocative anti-Israel stance (call for the annihilation of Israel, denial of the Holocaust) strengthened Iran’s position as an outsider. In December 2006 the UN Security Council passed a resolution providing for economic sanctions against the country because of the Iranian nuclear program (tightened in 2008 and 2010).
According to Politicsezine, the Islamic Republic attempted to counter the international isolation of Iran, operated in particular by the USA (new sanctions from October 2007), by strengthening its position as a major regional power: President Ahmadinejad underscored the launch of launch vehicles for satellites and the testing of medium-range missiles in military maneuvers in 2008 with rhetorical rhetoric Attacks against the “American Empire” and the “Zionist Regime”. Since Iran continued to refuse to stop uranium enrichment, the EU also tightened its sanctions against Iran.
On November 8, 2011, the IAEA submitted a report which referred to “credible information” about an Iranian nuclear weapon development. After London and Washington imposed further sanctions in connection with the nuclear dispute, which banned financial and oil transactions with Iran, demonstrators stormed the British embassy in Tehran on November 29, 2011 and looted the building. Great Britain responded by withdrawing all embassy staff and, for its part, expelled all Iranian diplomats. On January 1, 2012, tightened US sanctions against Iran came into force, on July 1, 2012 sanctions by the EU countries.
In November 2013, the 5 + 1 group (the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany) negotiated with Iran in Geneva for the first time to an agreement (Geneva Action Plan). Iran pledged to abandon parts of its nuclear program and allow controls, in return the international community eased its sanctions. Finally, on July 14, 2015, a final agreement was reached in Vienna. In the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran undertook, inter alia, to to bring 95% of the previously enriched uranium out of the country or to destroy it, as well as to reduce the number of centrifuges for uranium enrichment by around two thirds and to enable comprehensive control by the IAEA. In return, the negotiating partners agreed on a gradual lifting of the sanctions regime. At the end of August 2015, Iran and Great Britain reopened the embassies in London and Tehran, which had been closed since 2011. The nuclear deal took place on October 13th. 2015 the approval of the Iranian parliament. On January 16, 2016, the IAEA determined that Iran had fully met its obligations under the agreements. This made it possible to lift a large part of the sanctions against Iran.
In May 2018, however, the US under D. Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran because of its support for the Assad regime in Syria, primarily through the Revolutionary Guards. The first punitive measures that effectively prohibited Iran from selling oil and also forbade third countries from trading with Iran were put into effect after 180 days. In contrast, the EU stuck to the Vienna Agreement and a dialogue with Iran, which in 2019 distanced itself from parts of the nuclear agreement and took action against several oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.
In response to the drone attacks against Saudi oil facilities, the US tightened its existing sanctions against Iran in September 2019. Trump blamed Iran for the attacks, which denied any involvement. As a result of the economic crisis, President H. Rohani drastically increased the price of petrol and rationed fuel in November 2019. This economic policy decision led to nationwide protests and bloody riots. The clashes between protestors and security forces in around 20 cities resulted in more than 100 deaths, according to Amnesty International. In order to make communication and exchange more difficult, the regime largely restricted the Internet.
An American was killed in a rocket attack by the pro-Iranian militia Kataib Hezbollah in Kirkuk, northern Iraq on December 27, 2019. The United States responded with a counterstrike, killing numerous Kataib Hezbollah fighters. As a result, Shiite militias attacked the US embassy in Baghdad and demanded the withdrawal of the US military from Iraq. A. Khamenei denied Tehran was involved, but US President Trump held Iran responsible for the attack. On January 3, 2020, Trump had the Iranian General Kassem Soleimani (* 1957, † 2020) killed by a drone in Baghdad. Soleimani Western governments were seen as a key figure in an international network of terrorists; in Iran, he was revered as a hero. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the funeral ceremonies, and the leadership in Tehran announced revenge actions.
On January 8th, 2020, a Ukrainian plane crashed near Tehran. All 176 passengers, many of them Iranian or Canadian citizens, were killed. After initial denials, Iran admitted that the aircraft had been mistakenly shot at by missile defense. The Iranian leadership promised comprehensive clarification, but civil protests against the government flared up again.