Key dates since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution

Key dates since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution

From takeover of American embassy to Trump’s nuclear deal withdrawal, hostile ties with US have been a defining feature of the Islamic Republic

In this photo from October 9, 1978, Iranian protesters demonstrate against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo, File)
In this photo from October 9, 1978, Iranian protesters demonstrate against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo, File)

TEHRAN, Iran — Here are key events that have marked Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the monarchy.

Islamic Republic proclaimed

  • On January 16, 1979, the US-backed shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, leaves for exile after months of protests.
  • On February 1, revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini makes a triumphant return from exile.
  • The shah falls 10 days later, with public radio declaring “the end of 2,500 years of despotism.”
  • An Islamic republic is proclaimed on April 1.
In this photo from February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s exiled religious leader, emerges from a plane after his arrival at Mehrabad airport in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/FY, File)

1979: US hostage crisis

  • On November 4, 1979, pro-Khomeini students take 52 Americans hostage at the US embassy in Tehran to protest the ex-shah’s admission to a hospital in the United States.
  • Washington severs diplomatic relations in 1980. The hostages are freed on January 21, 1981, after 444 days in captivity.
In this photo from November 9, 1979, one of the hostages seized when Islamic radicals stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, blindfolded and with his hands bound, is displayed to a crowd in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo, File)

1980: Iran-Iraq war

  • On September 22, 1980 Iraq invades Iran after its president, Saddam Hussein, tears up a 1975 treaty on the strategic Shatt al-Arab waterway.
  • It triggers an eight-year war that leaves 680,000 people dead or missing, according to French historian Pierre Razoux. It ends on August 20, 1988 with a UN-brokered ceasefire.
In this photo from February 13, 1979, a large picture of Ayatollah Khomeini hangs from tank gun barrel in front of Niavaran Palace in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Aristotle Saris, File)

1989: Khamenei takes over

  • Khomeini dies on June 3, 1989 and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, president since October 1981, becomes supreme leader.
  • Moderate conservative Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is elected president. Re-elected in 1993, he orchestrates a relative opening up of the government and post-war reconstruction.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, right, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, center, and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, are seen during Ahmadinejad’s presidential inaugural ceremony in Tehran on August 3, 2005. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

1997-2005: Conservative standoff

  • Rafsanjani’s successor, relative moderate Mohammad Khatami, runs up against conservative opposition during his two terms from 1997 to 2005.
  • In July 1999, the government faces the biggest protests since 1979, with students who back Khatami clashing with police.
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami speaks during a gathering in Tehran to support a leading reformist candidate in presidential elections on May 23, 2009. (AP photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

2002: ‘Axis of Evil’

  • On January 29, 2002, US president George W. Bush puts Iran on a list of “axis of evil” states with Iraq and North Korea, accusing it of backing terrorism.
  • Washington had already in 1995 decreed a total trade and financial embargo on Iran.

2005: Ahmadinejad era

  • On June 25, 2005, ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is elected president. In August, he says Israel should be “wiped off the map.”
  • During his two terms, Iran begins uranium enrichment, alarming the West which suspects Tehran of wanting to produce a nuclear weapon.
  • A crackdown on nationwide protests after his re-election in 2009 decimates the reformist movement.
Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a press conference in Tehran, Iran on April, 5, 2017. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

2015: Rouhani elected

  • The election of relative moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani on June 15, 2013 marks a warming of relations with Washington.
  • On September 27, Rouhani and US president Barack Obama talk by phone, contacts unprecedented at this level since Iran’s revolution.
  • An accord with world powers on Iran’s nuclear program is reached on July 14, 2015, after 21 months of negotiations.
  • It gives Tehran relief from crippling economic sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program.
Hasan Rouhani, center, poses before a large portrait of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, the day after being elected Iran’s president, on June 15, 2013 (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

2016: Break with Saudi Arabia

  • In January 2016, Iran’s regional Sunni rival Saudi Arabia and its allies break off or scale back their diplomatic relations with Tehran, after a crisis prompted by Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.
  • Iran has since been accused of interfering in the affairs of Arab countries, including fanning conflict in Syria and Yemen.
An Iranian man beats with his shoe an effigy of a Saudi royal with flags of the United States and Israel attached to it during a demonstration in Tehran on May 8, 2015. (photo credit: AFP/Behrouz Mehri)

2017: Wave of protests

  • On May 19, 2017, Rouhani is re-elected with the support of reformists and a majority of the youth vote.
  • However, criticism mounts that he has abandoned the poor with his austerity policies.
  • Days of anti-government protests erupt late December 28, leaving at least 25 people dead.
Illustrative: A group of protesters chant slogans at the old grand bazaar in Tehran, Iran, June 25, 2018. (Iranian Labor News Agency via AP)

2018: US quits nuclear deal

  • US President Donald Trump on May 8, 2018 pulls the United States out of the nuclear pact and heralds the reinstatement of sanctions, which are reimposed in two waves in August and November.
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