Lay of the Land: Iran lies in southwest Asia, with the Caspian Sea to the north and the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea to the south. Much of the country consists of a plateau 3,000 to 5,000 feet high, fringed on all sides by mountain ranges. Across this central plateau stretch the Dasht-i-Kavir (“Great Sand Desert”) and the Dasht-i-Lut (“Great Salt Desert”). Unlike the rest of the country, the Caspian region is semitropical and fertile. Temperatures range from -12°F in the northwestern provinces during the winter to 138°F along the Persian Gulf in the summer.
In 1953, the CIA launched Operation Ajax to remove Iranian Prime Minister Mossadeq from power. Through infiltration, they tried to drive a wedge between Mossadeq’s secular and religious supporters. The Shah dismissed Mossadeq, but Mossadeq refused to give up his post and the Shah and his wife fled to Rome. Fighting broke out between pro- and anti-Shah forces. Funded by the CIA and the British MI6, the conflict climaxed with a nine-hour battle in front of Mossadeq’s house that left more than 300 dead. Mossadeq was arrested and spent the remaining 13 years of his life in prison and house arrest. General Fazlollah Zahedi declared martial law, and the Shah retuned to Tehran after less than a week away.
In response to the hostage crisis, the US government on April 7, 1980, broke diplomatic relations with Iran, and on April 24, 1981, the Swiss Government assumed representation of US interests in Tehran. Iranian interests in the United States are represented by the government of Pakistan. The Islamic Republic of Iran has a large Interests Section in the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC and a permanent mission to the United Nations in New York City.
US trade statistics show that exports from the United States to Iran grew more than tenfold during President George W. Bush’s time in office. The US sent Iran about $546 million in goods from 2001 to 2007. It exported roughly $146 million in 2007, compared with just under $9 million in 2001.
The Ahmadinejad Distraction
According to the State Department, the Iranian government’s poor human rights record worsened in 2007, and it continued to commit numerous, serious abuses. There were reports of unjust executions after unfair trials. Security forces committed acts of politically motivated abductions; torture and severe officially-sanctioned punishments, including death by stoning; amputation; flogging; and excessive use of force against and imprisonment of demonstrators. Vigilante groups with ties to the government committed acts of violence. Prison conditions remained poor. Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals and held political prisoners and women’s rights activists.
Henry H. Jessup
State of Residency: New York
Title: Chargé d’Affaires/Consul General
Note: Not commissioned; nomination withdrawn before the Senate acted upon it.