Foreign relations of Iran: Wikis


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Darvazeh-e-Bagh-e-Melli: The main gates to Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran.

Foreign relations of Iran refers to inter-governmental relationships between Iran and other countries. Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the newly-born Islamic Republic under the leadership 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 ardor - 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 Khomeini's death in 1989.[citation needed] During the reformist presidency of Mohammad Khatami, Iran's relations improved with its neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia.[citation needed] Following the Iranian presidential election, 2005, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has returned Iran to more Islamic revolutionary policies.[citation needed]

Bilateral relations are sometimes confused and contradictory, due to Iran's oscillation between pragmatic and ideological concerns.

Iran currently maintains full diplomatic relations with 99 countries worldwide.



Iranians have traditionally been highly sensitive and suspicious of foreign interference in their country, pointing to such events as Russian conquest of northern parts of the country, the Tobacco concession to the British-Soviet occupation during World War I and II, and the CIA plot to overthrow Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq. This suspicion manifests itself in beliefs many foreigners find highly implausible, such as "the fairly common" one that the Iranian Revolution was actually the work of a conspiracy between Iran's Shia clergy and the British government.[1]. This may have been a result of the anti-Shah bias in BBC Radio's influential Persian broadcasts into Iran. A report on 23 March 2009 by the BBC explains that many in Iran saw the BBC and the British government as one, and interpreted the bias for Khomeini as evidence of British government switch away from the Shah. It is entirely plausible that the BBC did indeed help hasten revolutionary events.[2]

Revolution period under Khomeini

The newly renovated building of Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses pre-Islamic Persian architecture extensively in its facade.

During the reign of the Khomeini Iran's foreign policy often emphasized the elimination of foreign influence and spread of Islamic Revolution rather than state-state relations or the furthering of trade. In the words of Khomeini

"We shall export our revolution to the whole world. Until the cry `There is no God but God resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle."[3]

The Islamic Republic's effort to spread the revolution is thought to have gotten underway in earnest in March 1982 when 380 men from more than 25 Arab and Islamic nations, met at the former Tehran Hilton Hotel for a "seminar" on the "ideal Islamic government," and less academically the launching of a large-scale offensive to cleanse the Islamic world of the Satanic Western and Communist influences that were seen to be hindering the Islamic world's progress.

The gathering of primarily Shia, but including some Sunnis militants, "with various religious and revolutionary credentials," was hosted by the Association of Militant Clerics and the Pasdaran Islamic Revolutionary Guards.[4]

The nerve center of the revolutionary crusade, operational since shortly after the 1979 revolution, was located in downtown Tehran and known to outsiders as the "Taleghani Center." At this headquarters groundwork for the gathering was prepared - the use of Arab cadre, recruited or imported from surrounding countries, to spread the revolution - and headquarters for groups such as Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, Iraqi Shia movement, and militant clerics of the Moros of the Philippines, Kuwaiti, Saudi, North African and Lebanon.

These groups came under the umbrella of the `Council for the Islamic Revolution` which was supervised by Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, the designated heir of Ayatollah Khomeini. Most of the council's members were clerics, but they also reportedly included advisors from the Syrian and Libyan intelligence agencies. The council reportedly received more than $1 billion annually - contributions from the faithful in other countries as well as Iranian government allocations.[5]

A two-pronged strategy - armed struggle against what were perceived as Western imperialism and its agents; and a purifying process internally to free Islamic territory and Muslim minds of non-Islamic cultural, intellectual and spiritual influences by providing justice, services, resources to the mustazafin (weak) masses of the Muslim world.

These attempts to spread its Islamic revolution strained the country's relations with many of its Arab neighbors and the extrajudicial execution of Iranian dissidents in Europe unnerved European nations, particularly France and Germany. For example, the Islamic Republic expressed its opinion of Egypt's secular government by naming a street in Tehran after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's killer, Khalid al-Istanbuli.[6]

At this time, Iran found itself very isolated, but this was secondary to the spread of revolutionary ideals spread across the Persian Gulf and the confrontation with the U.S., or "Great Satan," in the hostage crisis.

Training volunteers

Arab and other Muslim volunteers who came to Iran were trained in camps run by the Revolutionary Guards. There were three primary bases in Tehran, and in Ahvaz, Isfahan, Qom, Shiraz, Mashad, and in a facility converted in 1984 near the southern naval base at Bushire.[7]

In 1981, Iran supported an attempt to overthrow the Bahraini government. In 1983, Iran expressed political support for Shi'ites who bombed Western embassies in Kuwait, and in 1987, Iranian pilgrims rioted at poor living conditions and treatment and were consequently massacred during the Hajj (pilgrimage) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Nations with strong fundamentalist movements, such as Egypt and Algeria, also began to mistrust Iran. With the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Iran was thought to be supporting the creation of the Hizballah organization. Furthermore, Iran went on to oppose the Arab-Israeli peace process, because it saw Israel as an illegal country.

Iran–Iraq War

Relations with Iraq had never been good historically; however, they took a turn for the worse in 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran. The stated reason for Iraq's invasion was centered around sovereignty over the Shatt al-Arab waterway (Arvand Rud in Persian) between the two countries. However, other non-stated reasons are probably more convincing. Iran and Iraq had a history of interference in each other's affairs by supporting separatist movements. Although these interferences had stopped since the Algiers Agreement (1975), Iran resumed support for Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq after the Revolution.

Iran demanded the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Iranian territory and the return to the status quo ante for the Shatt al-Arab, as established under the 1975 Algiers Agreement signed by Iraq and Iran. This period saw Iran become even more isolated—with virtually no allies. Exhausted by the war, Iran signed UN Security Council Resolution 598 in July 1988 after the United States and Germany began supplying Iraq with chemical weapons. The cease-fire, resulting from the UN Resolution, was implemented on August 20, 1988. Neither nation had made any real gains in the war. It left one million dead and had a dramatic effect on the country's foreign policy. From this point on, the until-then-radical Islamic government recognized that it had no choice but to moderate and rationalize its objectives. This was the beginning of what Anoushiravan Ehteshami calls the reorientation phase of Iranian foreign policy.


Like other revolutionary states, practical considerations have sometimes led the Islamic Republic to inconsistency and subordination of ideological concerns, in, for example pan-Islamic solidarity. One observer, Graham Fuller, has called the Islamic Republic "stunningly silent"

about [Muslim] Chechens in [non-Muslim] Russia, or Uyghurs in China,[8] simply because the Iranian state has important strategic ties with both China and Russia that need to be preserved in the state interest. Iran has astonishingly even supported Christian Armenia against Shi'ite Azerbaijan and has been careful not to lend too much support to Islamic Tajiks in Tajikistan, where the language is basically a dialect of Persian.

In this regard the Islamic Republic resembles another revolutionary state, the old Soviet Union. The USSR was ideologically committed not to Islam but to world proletarian revolution, led by Communist parties under its leadership, but "frequently abandoned support to foreign communist parties when it served Soviet national interests to cooperate with the governments that were oppressing them."[9]

Post-War period (1988-present)

Since the end of the Iran–Iraq War, Iran's new foreign policy (see Introduction) has had a dramatic effect on its global standing. Relations with the European Union have dramatically improved to the point where Iran is a major oil exporter and trading partner for countries such as Italy, France, and Germany. China and India have also emerged as friends of Iran. Together, these three countries face similar challenges in the global economy as they industrialize and consequently find themselves aligned on a number of issues.

Iran maintains regular diplomatic and commercial relations with Russia and the former Soviet Republics. Both Iran and Russia believe they have important national interests at stake in developments in Central Asia and the Transcaucasus, particularly on energy resources from the Caspian Sea. Russian and other sales of military equipment and technology concern Iran's neighbors and the United States.

Significant historical treaties

Current policies of The Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran accords priority to its relations with the other states in the region and with the rest of the Islamic world. This includes a strong commitment to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement. Relations with the states of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC), especially with Saudi Arabia, have improved in recent years. However, an unresolved territorial dispute with the United Arab Emirates concerning three islands in the Persian Gulf (see above) continues to mar its relations with these states.

Tehran supports the Interim Governing Council in Iraq, but it strongly advocates a prompt and full transfer of state authority to the Iraqi people. Iran hopes for stabilization in Afghanistan and supports the reconstruction effort so that the Afghan refugees in Iran (which number approximately 2.5 million.[10]) can return to their homeland and the flow of drugs from Afghanistan can be stemmed. Iran is also pursuing a policy of stabilization and cooperation with the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia, whereby it is seeking to capitalise on its central location to establish itself as the political and economic hub of the region.

Current territorial disputes

Southern Caspian Energy Prospects (portion of Iran). Country Profile 2004.
  • Iran and Iraq restored diplomatic relations in 1990, but they are still trying to work out written agreements settling outstanding disputes from their eight-year war concerning border demarcation, prisoners-of-war, and freedom of navigation and sovereignty over the Shatt al-Arab waterway.
  • Iran governs and owns two islands in the Persian Gulf claimed by the UAE: Lesser Tunb (which the UAE calls Tunb as Sughra in Arabic, and Iran calls Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Kuchek in Persian) and Greater Tunb (which the UAE calls Tunb al Kubra in Arabic, and Iran calls Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg in Persian).
  • Iran jointly administers with the UAE an island in the Persian Gulf claimed by the UAE (Arabic, Abu Musa; Persian, Jazireh-ye Abu Musa), over which Iran has taken steps to exert unilateral control since 1992, including access restrictions.
  • The Caspian Sea borders are not yet determined with Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan, although this problem is set to be resolved peacefully in the coming years through slow negotiations. After the break up of USSR, the newly-independent republics bordering the Caspian sea claimed their share of the territorial waters & the sea bed, thus unilaterally abrogating the existing 50%-50% USSR-Iran agreements which like all other USSR pacts, the former soviet republics agreed to respect upon their independence. It has been suggested by these countries that the Caspian sea should be divided according to corresponding shoreline of each of the countries bordering the Caspian in which case Iran's share would be reduced to about 13 percent. The Iranian side has expressed its eagerness to know whether this means that all Irano-Russian/Soviet agreement are null & Iran is therefore certified to claim territorial sovereignty over lands lost to Russia by treaties that the two sides still consider vivant. Issues between Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan were settled in 2003, but Iran does not recognize these agreements. Iran opposes this resolution on the grounds that the law of international open waters can not be applied to the Caspian sea which is in fact a lake (a landlocked body of water). In recent years, Iran has shown little concern in claiming its territorial waters in the Caspian sea which is largely due to the fact that it heavily relies on Russia over its nuclear battle with the west.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran is selected by the President of Iran. Manouchehr Mottaki is the current acting Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Ramin Mehmanparast is the official spokesman.

Relations by region and country

Middle East

Map of Arab League states in dark green, Iran in Red.

Ever since the Islamic (Arab) conquest of Persia, Iranian–Arab relations have sometimes been mixed. Arabs and Iranians share bitter cultural, historical, political, economical rivalries which fuel prominent mutual contempt between both sides. Within the Middle East historical conflicts have always colored neighbouring Arab countries' perceptions about Iran. At times peacefully coexisting, while at other times in bitter conflict. North African Arabs generally enjoyed closer relations with Iran due to limited historical connection between them and Iran.


Iran-Iraq relations have been turbulent due to both participants having fought each other in the Iran-Iraq War. Iran and Iraq fought an eight year war in the 1980s. However, bilateral relations have improved since the fall of Iraq's former president Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the first Iranian president to visit Iraq since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran has an embassy in Baghdad and three consulate generals in Sulaimaniya, Arbil and Karbala. Iraq also has an embassy in Tehran.


Iran-Israel relations have shifted from close ties between Israel and Iran during the era of the Pahlavi dynasty to hostility since the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Iran has severed all diplomatic and commercial ties with Israel, and refers to it as the "Zionist entity " or the "Zionist regime."


Hezbollah is an armed Shi'ite militia in Southern Lebanon created during the Lebanese Civil War by the Revolutionary Guards of Iran in 1982.[11]

Around June 1982, Iran dispatched more than 1000 Revolutionary Guards to the predominately Shi'ite Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. There they established themselves, taking over the Lebanese Army's regional headquarters in the Sheikh Abdullah barracks, as well as a modern clinic renamed `Hospital Khomeini` and the Hotel Khayyam. Pasdaran were active in many places, including schools, where they propagated Islamic doctrine.[12] Iranian clerics, most notably Fazlollah Mahallati, supervised.[13]

From this foothold, the Islamic Republic helped organize one of its biggest successes, the Hezbollah militia, party and social services organization loyal to the Khomeini principle of Guardianship (i.e. rule) of the Islamic Jurists (Velayat-e-Faqih), and loyal to Khomeini as their leader.[14] Over the next seven years Iran is estimated to have spent an estimated $5 to $10 million US dollars per month on Hezbollah, although that organization is said to have become more self-sufficient now.[15]

In the words of Hussein Musawi, a former commander of Amal militia who joined Hezbollah:

We are her [Iran's] children. We are seeking to formulate an Islamic society which in the final analysis will produce an Islamic state. ... The Islamic revolution will march to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem, and the Islamic state will then spread its authority over the region of which Lebanon is only a part.`[16]

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 (2 September 2004) called for the "disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias". The Government of Lebanon is responsible for the disbanding and disarming of the militias, including Hezbollah, and preventing the flow of armaments and other military equipment to the militias, including Hezbollah, from Syria, Iran, and other external sources.[citation needed]


Syria was one of the only Arab countries to support Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, putting them at odds with other nations in the Arab League.


Iran for the first time in 30 years has held informal talks with NATO. NATO negotiator Martin Erdmann met Iran's ambassador to the European Union, Ali-Asghar Khaji in mid-March 2009.

Palestinian Authority

The Islamic Republic of Iran favours Palestinian national ambitions and officially endorses the replacement of Israel with a unitary Palestinian state. However, Iran has also stated its willingness to accept a two-state solution if the Palestinians find this acceptable.[17][18]

The Iranian government regularly sends aid to various Palestinian causes, everything from transporting injured children to hospitals to supplying the Palestinian Islamist militant groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas with arms. Streets and squares named after Palestine crisscross the nation.[19]

Saudi Arabia

Due to various political and cultural clashes throughout history, relations between the two nations have been greatly strained. Saudi Arabia and Iran established diplomatic relations in 1928. (history from 1928-66 also needs to be briefly mentioned). In 1966 King Faisal of Saudi Arabia visited Iran with the aim of further strengthening the relationships between both the countries. The then Shah (King) of Iran reciprocated by paying an official visit to Saudi Arabia which eventually lead to a peaceful resolution of the islands of Farsi and Arabi. It was agreed between Iran and Saudi Arabia that the island of Farsi will be possessed by Iran and the island of Arabi will be under the control of Saudi Arabia. The unique feature of agreement is that it only designate the territorial water to the Islands but it did not designate the continental shelf to either island.[20] In 1968, when Great Britain announced to withdraw and vacate from the Persian Gulf, Iran and Saudi Arabia took the primary responsibility for peace and security in the region. During 1970s , Saudi Arabia’s main concern over Iran was firstly, Iran’s modernisation of its military and its military dominance all over the region secondly, Iran’s repossession of the Islands of Big Tunb, Little Tunb and Abu Moussa in 1971 which challenged the United Arab Emirates claim over the Islands.[21] But it is more importantly to note that the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia was never as friendly as between the years 1968 and 1979.[22] After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Khomeini and other Iranian leaders openly attacked and criticised the character and religious legitimacy of the Saudi regime.


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Afghanistan See Afghanistan–Iran relations

Afghanistan shares a long and intertwined history with Iran. There are also deep ties in language, its people and culture. As an eastern dialect of Persian, Dari Persian is the dominant language of Afghanistan, especially in terms of education and business. Despite such close ties, Afghanistan's relations with Iran have fluctuated in modern times, namely due to the control of the country by the Taliban in the 1990s and with periodic disputes over the water rights of the Helmand River as the current main issue of contention. Iran is situated along one of the main trafficking routes for cannabis, heroin, opium and morphine produced in Afghanistan, and designer drugs have also found their way into the local market in recent years. Iran's police said in April 2009 that 7,700 tonnes of opium was produced in Afghanistan in 2008, of which 3000 tonnes entered Iran, adding that the force had managed to seize 1000 tonnes of the smuggled opium.[23]

 Azerbaijan 1918 See Azerbaijan–Iran relations

Azerbaijan has an embassy in Tehran and a consulate-general in Tabriz. Iran has an embassy in Baku and a consulate-general in Nakhchivan City. Both countries are full members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

 Bangladesh See Bangladesh–Iran relations

The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking to deepen ties between the two states, with Iranian investment in Bangladeshi industry. Bangladesh has also supported Iran's controversial nuclear program, claiming it is for peaceful purposes.[24] The Bangladeshi interim government also called for Iran's full membership of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation; it is currently an observer member of the organisation.[25]

Bangladesh and Iran signed a preferential trade accord in July 2006 which removed non-tariff barriers, with a view to eventually establishing a free trade agreement.[26] Before the signing of the accord, bilateral trade between the countries amounted to US$100 million annually.

In mid-2007, the Bangladeshi government requested Iran's help in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh, in order to offset the decline in the availability of gas for power generation. Bangladeshi Minister of Power, Energy and Natural Resources also requested Iranian assistance for the construction of new oil refineries in Bangladesh.[27]

 Kazakhstan See Iran-Kazakhstan relations

Trade turnover between the two countries increased fivefold in the last six years from $400 million to more than $2 billion in 2009.[28]

Iran imports grain, oil products and metals from Kazakhstan.[28] Iran is a partner in joint oil and gas projects including construction of a pipeline connecting Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Iran (Persian Gulf) which will give Astana access to the Asian markets. Besides, Kazakhstan is specially interested in Iranian investments in mechanical engineering, infrastructure, transport, telecommunications.[28]

 Kyrgyzstan See Iran-Kyrgyzstan relations

The two countries signed agreements on cooperation in the spheres of transport, customs, trade and economic relations. Iran and Kyrgyzstan interact in the spheres of education, culture, travel, customs, finances, war on trafficking and crime in general.[28]

The two countries trade in agriculture and capital goods. In 2008, Iran promised Kyrgyzstan 200 million euros for some economic projects. Iranian companies participated in construction of a highway connecting Bishkek and Osh. Iran and Kyrgyzstan hope to up the annual trade turnover to $100 million.[28]

India Republic of India See India–Iran relations

After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Iran withdrew from CENTO and dissociated itself from US-friendly countries during the Cold War, at that time Pakistan, which automatically meant better ties with India. Although, some important sources suggest that Iran's Islamic revolution could have been the indirect influence behind India's current problems with separatism in Kashmir.[29]

Currently, the two countries have friendly relations in many areas. There are significant trade ties, particularly in 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. They continue to collaborate in supporting the broad-based anti-Taliban government led by Hamid Karzai and backed by the United States.

The warm relations between the two countries has also been attributed to the fact that the Persian language was once the lingua franca of India, and many components of Iranian culture have been incorporated into the culture of India due to the frequent interaction between these two regions throughout history.[citation needed]

 Japan 1926 See Iran–Japan relations

Throughout history, the two countries have maintained a relatively friendly and strongly strategic partnership.

 North Korea See Iran – North Korea relations

Iran–North Korea relations are described as being positive by official news agencies of the two countries. Iran and North Korea pledge cooperation in educational, scientific, and cultural spheres.[30] Nuclear program of Iran.[31]

 Pakistan See Iran–Pakistan relations

Relations between the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Iran date back to the common prehistoric Indo-Iranian heritage (which connects all of Greater Persia with Indus Valley) from 3,000-2,000 BC and the Indo-Parthian and Indo-Scythian kingdoms of antiquity to the strongly Persianized Islamic empires in India in the 13th to 19th centuries. Pakistanis and Iranians are neighbours, connected by the sparsely populated Balochistan region split between them. There is a long history of contact and mutual influence between the two nations, with segments of Pakistani culture directly descended from Iranian cultures. However, today their relations are complex, driven by Pakistani geo-political aspirations, religious affiliations, Iran's relations with India, and internal and external factors.

 People's Republic of China See People's Republic of China – Iran relations

Iran today continues to align itself politically with the People's Republic of China as the European Union and United States push forward with policies to isolate Iran both politically and economically. Iran has observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and aspires to membership to this organisation, in which China plays a leading role.

In July 2004, Iranian parliamentary speaker Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel stressed China's support for Iran's nuclear programs. [4] China's Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing also said that his country opposes Iran being referred to United Nations Security Council over its nuclear program, and claimed that the Iranian government had a very positive attitude in its cooperation with the IAEA. [5]

 Thailand No later than the 17th century Visits of Persian diplomatic delegations to Siam are attested already in 1685.[32]
 Turkmenistan 1991 See Iran–Turkmenistan relations

Iran and Turkmenistan have had relations since Turkmenistan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Iran was the first nation to recognize Turkmenistan as an independent nation.[6] Since then, the two countries have enjoyed good relations and have cooperated in economic, infrastructure, and energy sectors. Trade between the two nations surpasses one billion dollars and Iranians are the second-largest buyers of Turkmen commodities, mainly natural gas. The $139 million Korpeje-Kurt Kui gas pipeline in western Turkmenistan and the $167 million Dousti (Friendship in Persian) Dam in the south of the country were built through a joint venture.

The Caspian Sea territorial boundaries is a cause of tension between the two. Iran's Islamic theocracy and Turkmenistan's secular dictatorship also prevent the development of a closer friendship.

 Uzbekistan 1991 See Iran–Uzbekistan relations

The two countries have deep cultural and historical ties, and Uzbekistan is considered as a part of Greater Iran. Iran has been especially been active in pursuing economic projects and social, cultural, and diplomatic initiatives in Uzbekistan. The two nations have also worked on overland links and other joint ventures. Although the difference in political governments, Iran's Islamic theocracy and Uzbekistan's secular dictatorship, prevent keep the two nations apprehensive, it has not deterred them from further improving relations.[33] Iran and Uzbekistan agreed to develop cooperation in agriculture, transport, oil and gas production, construction, production of pharmaceuticals and banking.[28]

The Iranian-Uzbek trade turnover exceeded $600 million in 2008. Uzbek export to Iran comes down to cotton, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, fertilizers, and chemical fibers; Iran exports construction materials, detergents, foods, tea and fruits to Uzbekistan.[28]



There have been several instances in which Iran and Morocco have mostly or completely severed diplomatic relations.

Iran cut off all diplomatic ties with Rabat in 1981. This was in response to King Hassan II's decision to give asylum to the exiled Shah. It was almost a decade before relations would thaw enough to renew ties. It was almost one decade after that before Abderrahmane Youssoufi, Prime Minister of Morocco at the time, would lead the first Moroccan delegation to the Islamic Republic of Iran.[34] Economic ties increased greatly in recent times.[35]

On March 6, 2009, the King of Morocco severed diplomatic ties with Iran, offering several reasons. Morocco's Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Friday that Morocco has cut its diplomatic ties with Iran following Tehran's remarks over Bahrain. It also cited that Iran spreading its Shi’ite brand of Islam in Sunni Morocco was interfering in Morocco's domestic affairs.[35][36]


Iran has close and friendly ties with Senegal as a major and powerful African country which is also an important Islamic country and one of the active OIC members.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Senegalese counterpart Abdoulaye Wade had a joint press conference along with a[37] close meeting in Feb 2008 in the city of Mashhad, both side pledged to expand the bilateral ties in the fields of economy, tourism and politics in addition to increase the efforts for empowering the OIC.

Also the giant Iran-based automaker Iran Khodro established[38] an assembly line to produce Iranian cars in Senegal and dispatch them to the African markets directly from Dakar. This Iranian-Senegalese company has the capacity to produce 10,000 Samand cars annually.[39]

South Africa

South Africa and Iran share historical bilateral relations and the latter supported the South African liberation movements. It severed official relations with South Africa in 1979 and imposed a trade boycott in protest against the country’s Apartheid policies. However, in January 1994, Iran lifted all trade and economic sanctions against South Africa and diplomatic relations were reestablished on 10 May 1994.[40]


Libya broke rank with most of the Arab states when it came out in support of Iran during the Iran–Iraq War. There is a Libyan Embassy in Tehran and an Iranian Embassy in Tripoli


Owing to various cultural and historical compatibilities, Iran and Sudan have generally sought a very cordial and friendly relationship. The two nations share membership in the OIC and the Group of 77. Although they differ in ethnic identity (Iran is predominantly Persian, while Sudan is a mixture of Afro-Arab and African) and denomination (the two nations are Muslim, but the former is mainly Shi'a, while the latter is Sunni), Iran and Sudan share a common strategic bond with both The People's Republic of China and Russia, and a common animosity towards the United States. Relations between Tehran and Khartoum have continued to grow, especially since April 2006, when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad voiced his opposition to the deployment of Western United Nations Peacekeepers in the Darfur region. Sudan ardently supports Iran's nuclear program. Both countries are also firmly against Israel.


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia See Armenia–Iran relations
 Belarus 1992 See Belarus–Iran relations

Belarus has an embassy in Tehran. Iran has an embassy in Minsk. The two countries have enjoyed good relations in recent years reflected in regular high level meetings and various agreements. In 2008, Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov described Iran as an important partner of his country in the region and the world.[41]

 Bulgaria 1897 See Bulgaria–Iran relations
 Croatia 1992-04-18 See Croatia–Iran relations
 Cyprus See Foreign relations of Cyprus
 Czech Republic See Foreign relations of the Czech Republic
 Denmark See Denmark–Iran relations

The first Iranian envoy to Denmark arrived in 1691 in order to negotiate the release of the Iranian-owned cargo of a Bengali ship seized by the Danish fleet. The Iranian diplomat had been issued with diplomatic credentials by Suleiman I of Persia (Shah 1666-1694) and opened negotiations with King Christian V of Denmark. He was unable to ensure the release of the cargo.

In 1933, a Danish consulate was established in Tehran which was later upgraded to an embassy. Following a state visit in 1958, Iran established an embassy in Copenhagen. The 2006 Muhammad cartoons controversy saw the Danish embassy to Iran attacked by protesters and the Iranian Ambassador to Denmark called to Tehran; thus straining political and economic interaction between the two countries.[48]

 France See France–Iran relations

Iran has generally enjoyed a friendly relationship with France since the Middle Ages. The travels of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier are particularly well known to Safavid Persia. Recently however, relations have soured over Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment and France supporting the referral of Iran to the United Nations Security Council. Under French President Jacques Chirac, relations were warm and friendly as the French government helped the Iranian government to hunt down PMOI terrorists.

 Georgia 1992-05-15[49]. See Georgia–Iran relations, Persia-Georgia relations

Iran and Georgia have had relations for centuries. Georgia, throughout its history, has several times been a part of the Persian Empire, specifically under the Achaemenid, Parthian, Sassanid, and Safavid dynasties. Due to this, there has been a lot of political and cultural exchange, and thus Georgia is often considered a part of Greater Iran. Iran (Persia) and Georgia, or the Georgian tribes, have had relations in different forms starting from the Achaemenid Era through trade. The relationship got more complex as the Safavids took power in Iran and attempted to maintain Iranian control of the Georgian kingdoms. This continued until Russia conquered the Caucasus in the 1800s from the Qajars. Until the early 1900s, Iran-Georgia relations were merged into Iran-Soviet relations. Since Georgia's independence from the Soviet Union, the two nations have cooperated in many fields including energy, transport, trade, education, and science. Iran is one of Georgia's most important trading partners and Intergovernmental Joint Economic Commission is functioning between the two countries.[49]

 Germany See German-Iranian relations

Official diplomatic relations between Iran and post war Germany began in 1952 when Iran opened its first mission office in Bonn. However Germany and Persia enjoyed diplomatic relations well back into the 19th century.[50]

 Greece See Foreign relations of Greece
 Holy See 1954 See Holy See – Iran relations

The Holy See and Iran have had formal diplomatic relations since 1954, since the pontificate of Pius XII, and have been maintained even during the most difficult periods of the Islamic revolution.[51]

 Hungary See Hungary–Iran relations
 Italy See Iran–Italy relations

Iran-Italy trade stood at $US 2.7 Billion in 2001 [7] and 3.852 Billion Euros in 2003.[8] In 2005, Italy was the third largest trading partner of Iran with 7.5% of all exports to Iran.[9] Italy was the top trading partner of Iran in the European Union in early 2006.[53] Commercial exchanges hit 6 billion euros in 2008.[54]

Although Italy harbors a large population of members of the MKO as do many European Union states, Italy officially considers the group a terrorist organization. [10]

 Romania 1901
 Russia See Iran–Russia relations

Relations between Russia and Persia (pre-1935 Iran), officially commenced in 1592, with the Safavids in power. Past and present contact between Russia and Iran has long been complicatedly multi-faceted; often wavering between collaboration and rivalry. The two nations have a long history of geographic, economic, and socio-political interaction. Since then, mutual relations have been turbulent often, and dormant at others.

 Serbia 1936 See Iran–Serbia relations
 Switzerland See Iran–Switzerland relations

Switzerland has had a consulate in Tehran since 1919 which was raised to the status of embassy in 1936 and also represents the interests of some countries including United States and South Africa in the Iranian capital Tehran.

There are agreements between the two countries on air traffic (1954, 1972 and 2004), road and rail transport (1977), export risk guarantees (1966), protection of investments (1998) and double taxation (2002). Iran is one of Switzerland's most important trading partners in the Middle East. A trade agreement was signed in 2005 but has not yet been ratified.

 Turkey See Iranian–Turkish relations

A period of coldness passed after the 1979 Iranian Revolution which caused major changes in Iran and the world's status quo. Today Iran and Turkey cooperate in a wide variety of fields that range from fighting terrorism, drug trafficking, and promoting stability in Iraq and Central Asia. Iran and Turkey also have very close trade and economic relations. Both countries are part of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). Turkey receives many Iranian tourists each year and economically benefits from Iranian tourism.[57]

Bilateral trade between the nations is increasing. In 2005, the trade increased to $4 billion from $1 billion in 2000.[58] Iran’s gas export to Turkey is likely to be increased. At present, the rate is at 50mm cm/d.[28] Turkey imports about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas from Iran, about 30 percent of its needs.[59] Turkey plans to invest $12 billion in developing phases 22, 23 and 24 of South Pars gas field, a senior Iranian oil official told[28] Two-way trade is now in the range of $10 billion (2008), and both governments have announced that the figure should reach the $20 billion mark in the not too distant future.[60] 50 percent of the gas from three phases of Iran’s South Pars gas field will be re-exported to Europe.[61] Turkey has won the tender for privatization of Razi Petrochemical Complex valued at $650 million (2008). On tourism, every year one million Iranians visit Turkey.[62]

 United Kingdom See Iran – United Kingdom relations

The Herald Tribune on 22 January 2006 reported a rise in British exports to Iran from £296 million in 2000 to £443.8 million in 2004. A spokesperson for UK Trade and Investment was quoted saying that "Iran has become more attractive because it now pursues a more liberal economic policy".[63]



Canadian-Iranian relations date back to 1955, up to which point the Canadian Consular and Commercial Affairs in Iran was handled by the British Embassy. A Canadian diplomatic mission was constructed in Tehran in 1959 and raised to Embassy status in 1961. Due to rocky relations after the Iranian Revolution, Iran did not establish an embassy in Canada until 1991 when its staff, which had been living in a building on Roosevelt Avenue in Ottawa's west end, moved into 245 Metcalfe Street in the Centretown neighbourhood of Ottawa which was upgraded to embassy status.


Iran has a productive trade balance with Cuba. The two governments signed a document to bolster cooperation in Havana in January 2006.[64] President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called relations "firm and progressive" over the past three decades.[65]

United States

Political relations between Iran and the United States began in the mid to late 1800s, but had little importance or controversy until the post-World War II era of the Cold War and of petroleum exports from the Persian Gulf. Since then an era of close alliance between Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's regime and the American government was followed by a dramatic reversal and hostility between the two countries after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Opinions differ over what has caused the decades of poor relations. Explanations offered include everything from the "natural and unavoidable" conflict between the Islamic Revolution on the one hand, and American "arrogance" [66] and desire for "global dictatorship" and "hegemony" on the other;[67] to the regime's need for an "external bogeyman" to "furnish a pretext for domestic repression" against pro-democratic forces, and bind the regime to its "small but loyal and heavily armed constituency".[68]


The current presidents of Venezuela and Iran, President Hugo Chavez and President Ahmadinejad, respectively, have both described themselves on the world stage as opposed to US imperialism. Citing this commonality of opinion, they regard each other as allies, and they have embarked on a number of initiatives together. For example, on January 6, 2007, the two announced that they would use some money from a previously-announced $2bn joint fund to invest in other countries that were "attempting to liberate themselves from the imperialist yoke", in Chavez's words.[69]

International organization participation

CP, ECO, ESCAP, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, GECF, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, International Maritime Organization, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, SAARC (observer) SCO (observer), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO WFTU, WEF, WHO, WMO, WTO (observer)

See also


  1. ^ Movali, Ifshin, The Soul of Iran, Norton, 2005
  2. ^ "Mike Thompson, BBC Radio, 2009" "Was BBC biased against the Shah of Iran?"
  3. ^ [11 February 1979 p.108 from Excerpts from Speeches and Messages of Imam Khomeini on the Unity of the Muslims, undated, distributed by the Ministry of Islamic Guidance, Tehran, (quoted in Wright, Robin, Sacred Rage, (2001), p.27)
  4. ^ Wright, Robin, Sacred Rage, (2001), p.28
  5. ^ Wright, Robin, Sacred Rage, (2001), p.33
  6. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.143
  7. ^ Wright, Robin, Sacred Rage, (2001), p.34-5
  8. ^ see Uyghurs Human Rights Project
  9. ^ Fuller, Graham E., The Future of Political Islam, Palgrave MacMillan, (2003), p.41
  10. ^ Afghan Refugees in Iran, "[1]", International Peace Research Institute, Oslo, 16-Jun-2004. Retrieved 29-Apr-2007.
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ Wright, Robin, Sacred Rage, (2001), p.80-1
  13. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, Norton, (2006), p.115
  14. ^ An open letter, The Hizballah program
  15. ^ Jaber, Hala, Hezbollah : Born with a vengeance, Columbia University Press, c1997, p.150
  16. ^ Monday Morning magazine, Oct. 31, 1983
  17. ^ / In depth - Iran ‘accepts two-state answer’ in Mideast
  18. ^ In 2003, U.S. Spurned Iran's Offer of Dialogue
  19. ^ Molavi, Afshin,Soul of Iran, Norton, 2005
  20. ^ Kaven L. Afrasiab, “Saudi-Iran Tension Fuel Wider Conflict” Asia Times, December 6, 2006.
  21. ^ Ibid
  22. ^ Iran and Saudi Arabia: External “Game Cocks?” by Henner Furtig.
  23. ^,21498,25451098-5005361,00.html?from=public_rss
  24. ^ Iran ready to cement ties with Bangladesh: Mottaki - Irna
  25. ^ Bangladesh supports Iran's inclusion into SAARC - Irna
  26. ^ Dhaka to sign preferential trade accord with Tehran
  27. ^ Bangladesh Seeks Iran"s Cooperation In Nuclear Energy Sector
  28. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Result of Iranian delegation visit to N Korea positive". IRNA. 2007-01-23. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  31. ^ Coughlin, Con (2007-01-26). "N. Korea helping Iran with nuclear testing". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  32. ^ SAFINE-ye SOLAYMANI in Encyclopaedia Iranica
  33. ^ [3]
  34. ^ BBC News | MIDDLE EAST | Moroccan premier ends visit to Iran
  35. ^ a b
  36. ^
  37. ^ Iran, Senegal presidents urge OIC to support Muslims
  38. ^ Iranian car assembly line in Senegal
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ Bulgarian embassy in Tehran
  43. ^ Iranian embassy in Sofia
  44. ^ Croatia set for all-out cooperation with Iran, Tehran Times
  45. ^ Timeline
  46. ^ Iran, Croatia Pledge to Expand Cooperation
  47. ^ Ahmadinejad calls for expansion of Iran-Croatia ties
  48. ^ "Danish and Austrian embassies in Tehran attacked". Wikinews. 30 March 2007. 
  49. ^ a b Ministry of Foreign Affaris of Georgia
  50. ^ German-Persian Diplomatic Relations, 1873-1912. Bradford G. Martin. 1959.
  51. ^ "Iran's Secret Weapon: The Pope". Time magazine. November 26, 2007.,8599,1687445,00.html. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  52. ^ Irish embassy in Tehran
  53. ^ Italy remains top trading partner of Iran in EU
  54. ^
  55. ^ Iranian embassy in Bucharest
  56. ^ Romanian embassy in Teheran
  57. ^ "Turkey, Iran ready to bolster tourism" ( – Scholar search), Turkish daily news, June 19, 
  58. ^ Schleifer, Yigal (February 2), "Caught in the fray: Turkey enters debate on Iran's nuclear program", CS Monitor, 
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^ Hint of Iran sanctions tugs at trade ties, Judy Dempsey, 22 January 2006, International Herald Tribune
  64. ^ "Iran, Cuba sign banking agreement". Islamic Republic News Agency. 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-06-08. 
  65. ^ President urges Tehran-Havana cooperation in NAM - Irna
  66. ^ APRIL 1, 2009, Q&A With the Head of Iran's New America's Desk
  67. ^ Reading Khamenei: The World View of Iran's Most Powerful Leader, by Karim Sadjadpour March 2008 p.20
  68. ^ [The New Republic, "Charm Offensive" by Laura Secor April 1, 2009]
  69. ^ Iran and Venezuela plan anti-U.S. fund, USA Today, January 14, 2007

Further reading

  • Dr. Abbas Maleki and Dr. Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, [Reading in Iran's Foreign Policy After September 11], Booksurge, 2008.
  • Dr. Abbas Maleki and Dr. Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, "Iran's Foreign Policy Since September 11], Brown's Journal of World Affairs, 2003.
  • Dr. Kaveh L. Afrasiabi,[After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy], Westview, 1994.
  • Dr. Mahjoob Zweiri, Iranian Foreign Policy: Between Ideology and Pragmatism

External links

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