1978 – The ruling Shah of Iran faces increased increased pressure as riots and mass protests amount against his rule.

  • Martial law is imposed.

1979 – Islamic Republic

  • January: As the political situation deteriorates the Shah and his family are forced into exile.
  • February: The Islamic fundamentalist, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, returns to Iran after 14 years of exile in Iraq and France for opposing the regime.
  • April: The Islamic Republic of Iran is proclaimed with Ayatollah Khomeini as supreme leader.

1980 –

  • January: Abolhasan Bani-Sadr is elected the first president of the Islamic Republic.
    • His government begins a major nationalization project.
  • July: The Shah dies in exile in Egypt.
  • September: The Iran-Iraq war starts which lasts for eight years.

 1988 – End of the war

  • Iran accepts a peace agreement with Iraq brokered by the UN.

 1989 – Ayatollah Khomeini dies

  • President Khamenei is appointed new supreme leader.

1990 – Iran and Iraq resume diplomatic ties

1995 – US imposes sanctions over Iran’s alleged sponsorship of “terrorism”, seeking to acquire nuclear arms and hostility to the Middle East process. Iran denies the charges.

1997 – Mohammed Khatami wins presidency

  • Wins 70% of the vote, beating the conservative ruling elite.

1999 – Pro-democracy students at Tehran University demonstrate against the closure of the newspaper ‘Salam’.

  • Clashes with security forces lead to six days of rioting and the arrest of more than a thousand students.

2000 – Parliamentary elections ensue

  • Liberals and supporters of President Khatami win parliamentary majority from conservatives for the first time.

2001 – President Khatami reelected

2002 – “Axis of Evil”

  • US President George W. Bush describes North Korea, Iraq, and Iran as the “axis of evil”, warning of the consequences that would happen should they develop long-range missile technology.
  • The speech causes outrage and is condemned by Iran.

2003 –

  • September: UN nuclear watchdog, IAEA, gives Iran weeks to prove it is not pursuing an atomic weapons program.
  • October – Lawyer and human rights campaigner, Shirin Ebadi, wins Nobel Peace Prize, the first Iranian to do so.
  • Became Iran’s first female judge in 1975 but was forced to resign after 1979 revolution.

2004 – Conservatives regain control of parliament in elections

  • The hardline Council of Guardians prior to the polls disqualified thousands of reformist candidates.


  • August – Iran says it has resumed uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant and insists the programme is for peaceful purposes.
    • IAEA finds Iran in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • June – Tehran’s ultra-conservative mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wins presidential elections.

2006 –

  • February – IAEA votes to report Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear activities.
    • Iran resumes enriching uranium at Natanz.

2007 –

  • April – President Ahmadinejad says Iran can produce nuclear fuel on industrial scale.
  • October: US announces new sanctions against Iran – the toughest since they were first imposed nearly 30 years ago.

2008 –

  • November: In an unprecedented move, President Ahmedinejad congratulates Obama on his victory.
    • Obama vowed to open unconditional dialogue with the Iranians about their nuclear program.
  • December – Police raid and shut down the office of a human rights group led by the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi.
    • Officials say the center is an illegal political organization.

2009 –

  • March – Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei claims US President Obama is following the “same misguided track” in Middle East as President Bush.
  • August – Massive protests erupt across the country as accusations of election rigging are launched against Ahmedinejad and his government. More than 30 people are killed and thousands arrested. Eventually Ahmedinejad is sworn in for a second term.

2010 –

  • January – Iran executes two men arrested during the period of unrest that followed the disputed presidential election of June 2009.
    • Also puts 16 people on trial over the Ashura Day opposition protests in December, when eight people were killed.

2011 –

  • April – Rare public row between Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad over the resignation of Intelligence Minister.
  • August: Two US citizens are accused of spying, and sentenced to eight years in prison.

2012 –

  • July: European Union boycotts Iranian oil.
  • October: Iranian currency falls to a record low against US dollar.

2013 –

  • June – In a significant turn of events, reformist Hassan Rouhani is elected president.
  • September: Rouhani tells foreign media that Iran will never develop nuclear weaponry.

2014 –

  • January – Western powers and Iran begin implementing a deal on Iran’s nuclear program following intense talks in Geneva.
  • July – Sixth and final round of nuclear negotiations between Iran and P5+1 group begin in Vienna.

2015 –

  • July – After years of negotiations, Western powers reach deal with Iran on limiting Iranian nuclear activity in return for lifting of international sanctions.
    • The deal reportedly gives UN nuclear inspectors extensive but not automatic access to Iranian sites.
    • Iran slowly begins opening up the country to foreign business and exchange – a major turning point in Iran’s foreign policy.