Iran sanctions: four decades of Western pressure

In the 45 years since the Islamic revolution in Iran, Western powers have used a punishing array of sanctions against Tehran in a bid to force a change of approach.

With Iran facing the possibility of further punitive measures after its direct attack on Israel on April 13, here is a timeline of the sanctions imposed:

- 1979: hostage crisis -

In November 1979, Iranian revolutionary students storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran and take 52 people hostage.

In 1980, midway through the 444-day-long crisis, Washington breaks off diplomatic relations with Iran and imposes restrictions on commerce and travel.

- 1983: Beirut bombing -

In 1983, 241 U.S. Marines are killed in a suicide truck bombing in the Lebanese capital Beirut. Minutes later, a second bombing kills 58 French troops.

In 1984, the United States blacklists Iran by labelling it a "state sponsor of terrorism" over its suspected role in the attacks.

Three years later, in 1987, U.S. president Ronald Reagan bans all Iranian imports and curbs some US exports to the country, over attacks on US vessels in the Gulf.

- 1995: US trade embargo -

In 1995, U.S. president Bill Clinton orders a total trade and financial embargo on Iran, accusing it of backing terrorism and seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Foreign companies who invest in Iran's oil sector are targeted.

- 2005: nuclear enrichment -

Fears that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons intensify in 2005, as newly elected hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ends a freeze on uranium enrichment.

Between 2006 and 2010, the United Nations adopts four rounds of economic and trade sanctions against entities linked to Iran's nuclear and ballistic programmes and freezes their assets.

In October 2007, the United States announces a raft of new sanctions on Tehran targeting its military and banking sector.

In 2009, Washington bans U.S. banks from serving as intermediaries in the transfer of funds between Iranian entities and offshore banks.

In this period, Iran, which has always denied any ambition to develop a nuclear weapons, is also placed under an arms embargo.

- 2010-12: financial pain -

Between 2010 and 2012, the U.N. and U.S. impose further sanctions on Iran.

In June 2010, Washington targets Iran's ability to import refined petroleum products, as well as tightening sanctions on its energy sector and access to global banking.

In 2012, the Obama administration rules that Washington can punish banks and other financial institutions buying oil from Iran.

The EU, meanwhile, bans technical assistance or the transfer of oil technology to Iran, imposes a ban on purchasing Iranian oil and freezes hundreds of assets including those of Iran's central bank.

- 2015: nuclear deal -

Negotiators reach a historic deal in 2015 which provides for a progressive lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions imposed since 2006, in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program.

In 2018, U.S. president Donald Trump walks away from the deal.

Trump re-imposes sanctions on Iran and companies with ties to it, hitting the central bank and oil sector.

In April 2019, Washington designates Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a "terrorist" organisation.

- 2022-23: crackdown punished -

Iranian authorities crack down on women-led mass protests that erupt after the September 16, 2022 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, arrested for an alleged violation of the Islamic republic's strict dress code.

Washington and Brussels impose new sanctions in response to the deadly crackdown and mass arrests.

- 2024: attack on Israel -

Iran launches missiles and drones at Israel in retaliation for a deadly Damascus strike, in the first direct Iranian attack on its arch foe's territory.

The United States says on April 16, days after the weekend attack, that it will "soon" impose new sanctions on Iran's missile and drone programme, and that it expects allies and partners to follow with parallel measures.

The EU also says it is working on tougher sanctions.

Source: Associated Press

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