The Long History of US-Iranian Relations

20 years ago, on July 3, 1988, Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by USS Vincennes on the Bandar Abbas-Dubai rout. The death toll was of 290 innocent civilian, including 66 children and 38 non-Iranians. It was an accident, but one resulting from the presence of trigger-happy Americans in the Persian Gulf.


Episodes like this should give pause to those who view Iranian motives for acquiring nuclear weapons as solely the projection of expansionist ambitions. The long history of US-Iranian relations – just recall the often-forgotten CIA-backed coup that installed the Shah’s regime back in 1953 – suggest that the Iranians have some reason to fear the Americans. And the more the Americans pose a threat to them, the more the Iranians would be compelled to get their own nuclear life insurance.

Iran Air Passenger Aircraft

For more on the Iranian nuclear affair, read Thomas Powers’s recent article on the New York Review of Books.

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