There have been no formal diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States for more than thirty years. But during these years, from time to time, the two countries moved closer, which suggests that the United States still needs Iran for a number of reasons.
However, the process of improving Iran-US relations cannot be rapid due to some internal political reasons existing in both Iran and the United States at the moment. Therefore, none of these similar encounters has impressive results at the moment.
Iran plays an important role in meeting the growing worldwide, and the US, demand for energy. In 1995-96, US sanctions were imposed against Iran during the period of global oil surplus; but now, the picture has changed, and the world has entered a period of global energy shortage. At present, Iran is one of the five world oil producers and is the second largest exporter of oil in OPEC.
Another stumbling block in the energy sector in Iran-US relations is Iran's nuclear program. This program began in Iran in the middle of the last century, with the help of material and intellectual investments of the United States and many European countries.
However, after the Islamic Revolution, foreign specialists left Iran. The nuclear program was resumed only in the 1990s with the help of Russia and China.
In 2003, the IAEA adopted a resolution, recording the fact of Tehran's concealment of its nuclear program, and Iran signed an additional protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, according to which the IAEA is entitled to a sudden inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities.
However, in 2006, Tehran ceased cooperation with the IAEA and resigned from its responsibilities under an additional protocol. As a result, sanctions were imposed on Iran by the UN Security Council, which prohibits the supply of strategic technologies to Iran.
Another reason for the confrontation between the USA and Iran was the position of these states over the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Iran refuses to recognize the State of Israel, preventing it, by all means, and supporting organizations that are on this side of the conflict.
As a result, the US refuses to improve relations until Iran, at least:
Does not stop supporting terrorist groups, especially Palestinian groups and movements, like Hezbollah;
and does not cease to resist the peace process in the Middle East, and does not recognize the Israeli state.
In 1979, the United States first imposed economic sanctions against Iran. These sanctions are periodically renewed and continue to this day. American firms, and their foreign divisions, are prohibited from doing business in Iran (curiously, the products of Pepsi and Coca-Cola are freely sold in Iran).
Since 1995, the US does not buy goods and services from firms that conduct business in Iran, and whose investments exceed $20 million.
It should be noted that in the period from 1950 to 1978, the United States was Iran's main trading partner.
At this time, the relations between Iran and the US can also remain in the shadows due to the presence of such a partner as Russia for both sides. The policy of Donald Trump, in relation to Russia, is especially noteworthy.
According to many experts, the US intends to improve relations with Russia and promote its dynamic development. However, friendly and strong relations between Russia and Iran are vividly expressed and this is noticeable not only in the South Caucasus, but also in the Syrian conflict.
The Cold War and the split of the Soviet Union, greeted the final formation of Russia's foreign policy for many years to come.
President of the United States, Donald Trump, not only accused Iran of sponsoring international terrorism, but also calls it the source of all troubles in the Middle East.
The position of Trump is supported not only by Israel, but also by Saudi Arabia. Turkey also expresses confidence that Iran, among other things, is responsible for the civil war in Syria, the growing influence of the terrorist group "Islamic State" (IG) in Iraq and the ongoing confrontation between government forces and the Shiite militia in Yemen.
The US administration is looking for opportunities to split the military and diplomatic alliance between Tehran and Moscow. Washington hopes that this will help to end the conflict in Syria, as well as strengthen the fight against the ISIS.
Tehran and Moscow support the regime of Bashar Assad for various reasons. For Iran, it is important that Assad stays in power, and Syria retained its territorial integrity, because Assad is an important ally of Tehran in the Arab world.
Relations between Russia and Iran have improved significantly in recent years. Cooperation has been established even in the military and intelligence spheres. This is why Iran cannot refuse Russia to embrace the US.