After World War II, the United States and Britain supported the pro-Western shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. They engineered a coup against the prime minister in 1953 after the government nationalized the oil industry. The shah then embarked on 25 years of economic and social modernization that alienated the clergy. He was overthrown in 1979 by an anti-American Islamic fundamentalist regime that the West fears is now developing atomic weapons.
1979 Militant students storm the US Embassy in Tehran, seizing hostages – 52 are held for 444 days.
1988 The warship USS Vincennes mistakenly shoots down an Iranian airliner, killing all 290 on board.