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11 September 2008

From shahs to sanctions – a timeline

By Staff Blogger


  • 21 February 1921
    Reza Khan, a military commander, seizes Tehran in a coup d’état, crowning himself shah five years later and establishing the Pahlavi dynasty.
  • 16 September 1941
    Reza’s son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, is crowned shah following the Anglo-Russian occupation of Iran triggered by Reza’s support for Nazi Germany.
  • 1 May 1951
    Prime Minister Muhammed Mossadeq nationalises the oil industry, which had been under British control. Britain imposes an embargo and a blockade. Mossadeq resigns the following year but is reinstated after a popular uprising.
  • 19 August 1953
    Mossadeq is overthrown in a coup engineered by the British and the Americans. General Fazlollah Zahedi is installed as prime minister and the shah returns from five days of self-exile.
  • 26 January 1963
    The shah launches the White Revolution, a programme of land reform and social and economic modernisation. After Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini criticises the reforms, he is arrested, sparking riots in Tehran.
  • 8 September 1978
    Outbreak of strikes and mass demonstrations against the shah’s authoritarian rule. Martial law is imposed on 12 cities.
  • 16 January 1979
    The shah and his family are forced into exile. Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran on 1 February following 14 years of exile, and the monarchy is abolished on 11 February.
  • 4 November 1979
    Islamic militants take 52 Americans hostage at the US embassy in Tehran, demanding the extradition of the shah from the United States. The crisis lasts 444 days.
  • 22 September 1980
    Iraq launches a full-scale invasion of Iran, starting the Iran-Iraq War. The conflict lasts until August 1988 and kills an estimated one million Iranians.
  • 7-13 July 1999
    More than 1,000 students are arrested after pro-democracy protests in Tehran.
  • 10 October 2003
    Shirin Ebadi, a lawyer and human rights campaigner, becomes Iran’s first Nobel Peace Prizewinner; appointed the country’s first female judge in 1975, she was forced to resign after the 1979 revolution.
  • 24 June 2005
    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tehran’s ultra-conservative mayor, triumphs in the presidential elections.
  • 8 August 2005
    Iran announces the resumption of uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant but insists the nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes. The IAEA finds it in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • 11 April 2006
    Iran says it has succeeded in enriching uranium at its Natanz nuclear facility.
  • 24 May 2007
    The IAEA says Iran could develop a nuclear weapon in three to eight years.
  • 25 October 2007
    The US announces sweeping new sanctions against Iran.
  • 9 July 2008
    Iran test-fires the Shahab-3, a long-range missile it says is capable of hitting targets in Israel.


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