Iran’s Foreign Policy Toward the United States


The relations between the Eastern and Western worlds have always been complicated and resulted in numerous crises, and those between Iran and the USA are a great example of the tension affecting both sides. The significant difference in the mentality of peoples living in these regions resulted in the evolution of the opposite points of view on the further evolution of the world and the role a certain state should play in it. However, in the last several years the situation has become even more complicated. Today, Western and Eastern worlds reconsider their approaches and tend to establish new relations to maintain a beneficial partnership and integrate into the world’s political system. This paper focuses on the relations between the USA and Iran on the international, state, and individual levels.

Research Question

Despite the above-mentioned tendencies, the relations between Iran and the USA remain tense. Hence, Iran is one of the strongest states of the Middle Eastern region and the cooperation with it is vital in terms of modern anti-terrorist effort. Being its main initiator, the USA still has not promoted contacts with Iran because of the complicated history of relations between the two countries. It is vital to understand the modern trends and formulate further perspectives. It is vital to understand the modern trends and formulate further perspectives. Therefore, the research will focus on how the three-level analysis theory can be applied to help to comprehend Iran’s foreign policy towards the United States under the office of President Hassan Rouhani.

Attempting to answer this question the research will review Iran’s relations with the other states (international level) about the conflict in Syria to learn what position the state takes in it and what it hopes to achieve. Further, the paper will review the current situation concerning the sanctions imposed by the USA (state level). Finally, the values of the two countries will be compared (individual level).


Analyzing the given issue, it is extremely vital to provide the background for the investigation and outline the problem which emerges most strongly in international relations. Currently, these two nations do not have direct diplomatic relations (Duncombe 2015). Several important concerns have a great impact on such a state of affairs. First of all, in the second half of the 20th century, Iran was one of the most important allies of the USA in the Middle Eastern region.

The loyal Iranian government promoted the development of these relations and held a course for rapprochement with the USA. This stage of Iran-US relations resulted in the gradual development of the Middle Eastern country supported by the USA. Iran obtained significant financial help and helped the USA to protect its interests in the region. However, the Iranian Revolution in 1979 had a pernicious influence on the development of these relations.

The USA did not accept the values appreciated by the new government and the course chosen by it. Finally, the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis resulted in the significant deterioration of the Iran-US relations and 1980 the countries ended their diplomatic relations, is not able to make the compromise (Hussain & Yazdani 2006; Moshirazhdeh 2007) Iranian nuclear program introduced new concerns to the relations between these two nations and promoted significant deterioration of the image of Iran on the international level.

For the moment, there are, however, some signs of improvement in the relations between these two countries. The Iranian Nuclear deal promoted the initiation of the change process and reconsideration of some aspects of relations. The embargo on trade introduced by the USA in 1995 became one of the most important aspects of this deal as under the terms of the agreement the sanctions on Iran should be lifted. Several political experts consider this deal to be the first stage of the evolution of the Iran-US relations which could lead to the restoration of the role of Iran in the world policy.

International Level


Applying the three-level analysis of the policy of the state, the participation of the USA and Iran in international organizations is an essential part of their relations. The United States is an active member of a great number of various international organizations that aim at the improvement of the world’s political situation and providing the solution to the most important problems (Hussain & Yazdani 2006).

The USA can also rest on its allies who are the members of NATO. These facts prove the great role the state plays on the international level. Besides, Iran has its representatives in the United Nations and is recognized by the majority of states as a powerful figure in the region. However, it does not have great international support and could not rest on some powerful allies. This fact makes the Iranian position weaker and demonstrates the potential the USA has.

Besides, the new turn that occurred in the relations between the Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation within the conflict in Syria suggests the tendency towards the improvement of the interactions between these two countries. In turn, this development may produce a negative impact on the relations of Iran with the US as the latter is in tense relations with Russia.

Relationships with Other Countries

The armed confrontation with the Islamic State taking over the territories of Syria and Iraq has been going on for several years (Hinnebusch & Ehteshami 2002). The beginning of the Russian intervention in the conflict in the form of a series of air force attacks on the rebel militias has resulted in lengthy debates and discussions of the political consequences of the confrontation. This reaction can be attributed to the weight of Russia in the world as one of the states with the most powerful military force. The addition of such an influential and strong participant of the conflict in Syria has shifted the overall balance of powers that, generally, remained unchanged throughout the four years of its existence (Hinnebusch & Ehteshami 2002).

As a result, Iraq began to gravitate to the coalition with Russia, which immediately caused a wave of discussions and protests from the side of the other participants. For example, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and some other Middle Eastern states immediately began to lobby the Kremlin supporting the requirements presented by President of Russia Vladimir Putin designed to shorten the term for which Syrian President Assad is expected to be in power (Solomon 2015).

Iran’s position is exactly the opposite – the coalition with Russia is anticipated to strengthen Iran’s support for Assad to preserve the Syrian sphere of influence (Aleksashenko 2015). At the same time, if the Russian President decides to support the perspective of the other Middle Eastern leaders, this effort may allow the international coalition to strengthen its positions against the Islamic State and coordinate the efforts to oppose its actions.

Some other powers that intrude the interactions between Russia and Iran are France, an active participant in the military conflict in Syria and Iraq, and Israel interested in limiting Iran its allowance for Hezbollah to attack the Israeli territory from Syria (Solomon 2015). The United States’ perspective goes against the alliance between Iran and Russia that would support the position of Assad. The US leaders were relieved to notice that Iran’s military presence in Syria that was activated as soon as Russia began taking part in the confrontation became less active and generally weakened (Solomon 2015).

State Level

Economic Relations and Trades

The analysts have noticed that as the United States gains its energy independence, it seeks to strengthen its partnership with the countries of the Middle East, and as one of the biggest and most powerful states in that region, Iran looks like one of the most likely partners for the US in the future (DiChristopher 2014). The election of Hassan Rouhani as President of Iran has revealed the country’s orientation towards economic growth which is quite realistic since the state is known to possess massive growth potential. The revival of trading relations between the United States and Iran is beneficial for both sides. While for Iran this tendency means the renewal of active development, the main advantage of the United States is the opportunity to increase its base of consumers by nearly 80 million people.


The sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran have been in place for several years (Fathollah-Nejad 2014). The support of the sanctions by the European states has led to the total withdrawal of all the Western businesses from the economic space of Iran since 2010. That way, the sanctions have created significant economic pressure on Iran preventing it from harmonious development (McCormack, D & Pascoe 2015). The motivation to grow has been one of the main strategies of President Rouhani ever since he was elected. The nuclear program was supposed to play a significant role in the country’s acquisition of influence in the global arena.

Due to Iran’s compliance with the requirements of the nuclear dismantlement in 2015, the sanctions were lifted. Iran benefits immensely from the sanctions suspension because it will provide the country with an opportunity to become the second most powerful economy in the Middle Eastern region after Saudi Arabia (Nada 2015; McCormack, D & Pascoe 2015). Now, Iran can export crude oil which will help to produce income to revive its economy, but not enough to expand in the new markets. However, most sanctions related to the foreign firm and the US businesses are still in place which slows down the trading interactions between the two states. Complete alleviation of sanctions would allow Iran to shift to a more preferable western supply chain. These days, the state relies on that of China which is known for low-quality goods.

Individual Level


The discussion of the individual level of the USA-Iran relations should be mainly based on the cultural values that are currently in place in both countries. As was emphasized earlier, President Rouhani began his term specifically taking a course towards the economic development of his country and the orientation of the realization of its potential to become one of the most influential states of the Middle Eastern region.

That way, a common goal both that the USA and Iran currently pursue is economic development. However, speaking about more personal values, one should notice that Iran is the Islamic Republic, and its political and business climates are focused around the Islamic perceptions and beliefs. These values clash with those dominating the Western countries where the separation of religion and politics is intentional. Another common negative factor that complicates the relations between the USA and Iran is the history that has made the two countries hostile towards one another due to a variety of events.

The contemporary leaders are to deal with the pressures of the past in their attempts to find common ground and coexist peacefully. It is important to notice that the historical confrontation between the two sides has resulted in the formation of biased perceptions in both states. These subjective ideas are the basis for the states’ interpretation of each other’s actions. That way, two generally reasonable and unhostile cultures are put in the positions of enemies by their history and conflicts.


The relations between the United States and Iran have been complex for many decades. On the three levels, Iran-USA relations are complicated by the Syrian conflict, the nuclear program, sanctions, and extremely different values. However, the country’s potential for economic growth is immense.

The three-level analysis provides a deeper view of the multiple causes of tension between the USA and Iran and shows how complex and intertwined they are. The analysis is helpful because it approached the issue environmentally taking into consideration internal and external forces that influence and drive both states.

The research has shown the importance of critical thinking and cooperation for the states and also revealed the complexity of the interactions between states in the issues with multiple participants such as the conflict in Syria. It also demonstrated that the renewal of the active trading relations with the West that would occur after the sanctions are lifted is likely to benefit both the USA and Iran on the state level. Finally, on the individual level, the countries have very different values and cultures and their different views are aggravated by their past conflicts making both cultures biased towards one another.


Aleksashenko, S 2015, A three-sided disaster: The American, Russian, and Iranian strategic triangle in Syria. Web.

DiChristopher, T 2014, US and Iran could have a friendlier future ahead. Web.

Duncombe, C 2015, ‘ Representation, recognition and foreign policy in the Iran–US relationship’, European Journal of International Relations, n. pag. Web.

Fathollah-Nejad, A 2014, ‘Why sanctions against Iran are counterproductive: Conflict resolution and state-society relations’, International Journal, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 48-65. Web.

Hinnebusch, R & Ehteshami, A 2002 The Foreign Policies of Middle East States, Lynne Rienner Pub, Boulder, CO. Web.

Hussain, R & Yazdani, E 2006, ‘United States’ policy towards Iran after the Islamic Revolution. An Iranian Perspective’, International Studies, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 267-289. Web.

McCormack, D & Pascoe, H 2015, ‘Sanctions and Preventive War’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, n.pag.. Web.

Moshirazhdeh, H 2007, ‘ Discursive Foundations of Iran’s Nuclear Policy’, Security Dialogue, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 521-543. Web.

Nada, G 2015, If sanctions are lifted, here’s what trade between Iran and the US could look like. Web.

Solomon, J 2015, U.S. Eyes Russia-Iran Split in Bid to End Syria Conflict. Web.

Cite this paper

Select style


DemoEssays. (2023, January 4). Iran’s Foreign Policy Toward the United States. Retrieved from


DemoEssays. (2023, January 4). Iran’s Foreign Policy Toward the United States.

Work Cited

"Iran’s Foreign Policy Toward the United States." DemoEssays, 4 Jan. 2023,


DemoEssays. (2023) 'Iran’s Foreign Policy Toward the United States'. 4 January.


DemoEssays. 2023. "Iran’s Foreign Policy Toward the United States." January 4, 2023.

1. DemoEssays. "Iran’s Foreign Policy Toward the United States." January 4, 2023.


DemoEssays. "Iran’s Foreign Policy Toward the United States." January 4, 2023.