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Iran and its foreign policy
Iran has over the years emerged as a power to be reckoned with. From having troubled international relations to now maintaining a diplomatic stand across the globe has been possible because slowly and steadily Iran has toughened itself from within.
FOREIGN RELATIONS of Iran refer to inter-governmental connections between Iran and other countries. Iran is a regional power, strategically located (has large reserves of petroleum, oil and natural gas, thereby affecting global relations).  Islam is the official religion and Persian is the official language. It had been a monarchy ruled by a Shah, or emperor, almost without interruption from 1501 until the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Islamic revolutionary regime of Ayatollah Khomeini dramatically reversed the pro-Western foreign policy of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

 
Since then Iran has oscillated between the two opposing tendencies of revolutionary ardour - eliminating western non-Muslim tendencies and promoting the Islamic revolution abroad - and moves towards pragmatism - promoting normalization and economic development. Iran's initial post-revolutionary idealistic and hard-line foreign policy and ambitious goals during the Iran–Iraq War were replaced by more pragmatic policies after the Imam's death in 1989. Relations improved with its neighbours, particularly Saudi Arabia. Following the Iranian presidential election, 2005, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has returned Iran to more Islamic revolutionary policies. Recently relations with the European Union have dramatically improved. China and India have also emerged as friends of Iran. But USA continues not to have diplomatic relations with Iran.

Relations with USA


The two countries became hostile after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. During the Cold War too, America became deeply involved in Iranian affairs. There were so many occasions when Americans tried their best to stop Iran from developing. They involved the nation into internal conspiracies and controversies. Clinton in April 1995 imposed a total embargo on dealings with Iran.

 
Trade with the U.S., which had been growing following the end of the Iran–Iraq War ended abruptly. The next year the American Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions act which threatened even non-U.S. countries making large investments in energy. The act was denounced by the European Union as null and void, but blocked some investment for Iran nonetheless.
 
Americans have also accused Iran of harbouring Al-Qaeda’s operatives. There is so much economic damage caused by U.S. sanctions and political pressure. Since 2003 the U.S. has been flying unmanned aerial vehicles, launched from Iraq, over Iran to obtain intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, reportedly providing little new information.
 
The Iranian government has formally protested the incursions as illegal. President George W. Bush insisted on August 31, 2006 that "there must be consequences" for Iran's defiance of demands that it stop enriching uranium. He said "the world now faces a grave threat from the radical regime in Iran.” Hence relations with USA are continuously strained but after Barack Obama’s win, the situation might just get better.
 
Relations in Middle East

 
Iran's relations with the Arab states have been based on perceptions of each state's relations with Israel. Thus, Iran has been hostile toward those states it regarded as willing to accept Israel's existence--Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Tunisia--and friendly toward those it regarded as sharing Iranian views--Algeria, Libya, Sudan and Syria.
 
Despite its uncompromising position, however, Iran is known to have purchased weapons clandestinely from Israel as recently as 1985. The dramatic decline of international oil prices (1985) spurred the Iranian initiatives and led to significantly improved relations with such countries as Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Relations with Iraq had never been good historically, took a turn for the worse in 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran. Purpose was to silence propaganda about Islamic revolution. Baghdad believed that the post revolutionary turmoil in Iran would permit a relatively quick victory .This hope proved to be a false one for Iraq.


At the end of the war Iraq occupied approximately one-third of Khuzestan Province, from which an estimated 1.5 million civilians had fled. Property damage to factories, homes, and infrastructure in the war zone was estimated in the billions of dollars. Although the war had settled into a stalemate by the end of 1980, during the following eighteen months Iranian forces made gradual advances and eventually forced most of the Iraqi army to withdraw across the border the objective being to end the war by having both sides withdraw to the common border as it had existed prior to the invasion.


Relations in the Indian sub continent.


Iran withdrew from CENTO after 1979 and dissociated itself from US-friendly countries, including Pakistan, thereby improving relationship with the Republic of India. Currently, the two countries have friendly relations in many areas. Good trade ties (crude oil imports into India and diesel exports to Iran). Iran frequently objected to Pakistan's attempts to draft anti-India resolutions at international organizations such as the OIC.

 
India welcomed Iran's inclusion as an observer state in the SAARC regional organization. Lucknow continues to be a major centre of Shiite culture and Persian study in the subcontinent. In the 1990s, India and Iran both supported the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan against the Taliban regime. Iran has maintained diplomatic relations with Afghanistan in 1987, although it was distrustful of the ideologies of most groups. Iran provided financial and limited military assistance to those Afghan resistance forces whose leaders had pledged loyalty to the Iranian vision of Islamic revolution. Iran also hosted about 2.3 million refugees who had fled Afghanistan.

Rise as a super power and its implications

 
There are two main reasons why no nation today wants to be Iran’s enemy. They are - Iran’s rich natural resources and - Iran’s nuclear weapons.

 
Hence it is important to understand the history of relations of Iran with various important countries of the world and how dramatically they’ve taken a new turn since Iran has shown supremacy and advantage.

 
Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Since 2003 the United States' official position on Iran is - "a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable."

 
Since then Iran has diplomatic relations with EU, India, China (main country to back Iran’s nuclear programme) and a few countries in the Middle East since all of them are dependent on Iran for oil and petroleum). Relations are cordial with Japan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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