Iran: Politics, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy
Congressional Research Service Washington United States
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Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, a priority of U.S. policy has been to reduce the perceived threat posed by Iran to a broad range of U.S. interests, including the security of the Persian Gulf region. U.S. officials express a broad range of concerns about Irans domestic and foreign policies, but the emergence of the Islamic State organization has reduced the gap in U.S. and Iranian regional interests. The implementation of a July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action JCPOA nuclear agreement between Iran and six negotiating powers has lessened, although not eliminated, U.S. concerns about Irans nuclear program. During the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. officials identified Irans support for militant Middle East groups as the primary threat posed by Iran to U.S. interests and allies. Irans nuclear program took precedence in U.S. policy after 2002 as the program expanded and the chances that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon increased. As of 2010, the United States orchestrated broad international economic pressure on Iran to persuade it to agree to strict limits on the program. The international pressure might have contributed to the June 2013 election of the relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran, whose government subsequently negotiated a November 2013 interim nuclear agreement and the JCPOA. The JCPOA, which began formal implementation on January 16, 2016, exchanged broad sanctions relief for nuclear program limits that give the international community confidence that it would take Iran at least a year to produce a nuclear weapon.