How we got here: US-Iran tensions A timeline of tit-for-tat actions since the United States pulled out of the nuclear deal

  • May 8, 2018: US withdraws from nuclear deal
  • May 21, 2018: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lays out list of 12 demands on Iran
  • May 23, 2018: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei lays out conditions Europe must meet for Iran to remain in the nuclear deal
  • July 17, 2018: Iran files lawsuit at International Court of Justice over US sanctions
  • Aug. 6, 2018: US begins reimposing sanctions
  • Aug. 16, 2018: Pompeo names Brian Hook special envoy for Iran
  • Oct. 3, 2018: US terminates 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran
  • Nov. 5, 2018: US reimposes sanctions on Iran oil exports
  • Dec. 1, 2018: Pompeo accuses Iran of violating UN resolutions with ballistic missile test
  • Dec. 2, 2018: Iran says ballistic missile testing allowed after US accusations
  • Jan. 10, 2019: Pompeo denounces President Barack Obama deal with Iran sparked by “desire for peace at any cost”
  • Jan. 31, 2019: European powers launch financial mechanism to try to get around US sanctions and save nuclear deal
  • Feb. 4, 2019: Trump causes stir by saying US troops in Iraq to “watch Iran“
  • Feb. 13, 2019: Iran pans US-sponsored Warsaw Summit aimed at Iran
  • Feb. 14, 2019: Pence calls on Europe to withdraw from nuclear deal at Warsaw Summit
  • March 22, 2019: US announces sanctions on Iranians engaged in sensitive defense research
  • April 8, 2019: US designates Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) a terrorist group
  • April 22, 2019: US announces end of oil export sanctions waivers
  • April 24, 2019: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif offers US-Iran prisoner swap
  • May 8, 2019: US sanctions Iran metals sector
  • May 8, 2019: President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will stop complying with parts of the nuclear deal
  • May 9, 2019: Trump tells Iranian officials to call him
  • May 12, 2019: Four tankers damaged in attack off UAE coast widely blamed on Iran
  • May 24, 2019: US announces deployment of 1,500 troops in response to “credible threats from Iran”; Pompeo invokes “Iran emergency” to bypass Congress on arms sales to Gulf Arab states
  • June 18, 2019: US calls for global coalition to protect shipping vessels in Gulf region
  • June 20, 2019: Iran shoots down US military drone over Strait of Hormuz
  • June 20, 2019: Trump calls off retaliatory strike on Iranian radar and missile batteries
  • June 24, 2019: US sanctions Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior officials in response to drone shoot-down
  • July 1, 2019: Iran exceeds nuclear deal limit on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium
  • July 8, 2019: Iran begins enriching uranium past nuclear deal’s 3.67 percent limit
  • July 14, 2019: Rouhani says Iran ready to hold discussions if US ends sanctions
  • July 18, 2019: Zarif meets with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in New York to suss out possible White House meeting.
  • July 18, 2019: Pentagon announces it is sending 500 troops to Saudi Arabia; Trump says US shot down Iranian drone near US ship in Persian Gulf (Iran denies)
  • July 22, 2019: Iran claims to uncover CIA spy ring and detains 17 suspects
  • July 31, 2019: US blacklists Zarif but renews sanctions waivers for firms working on Iran’s civil nuclear program
  • Aug. 26, 2019: Trump sees “really good chance” for French-brokered meeting with Rouhani
  • Sept. 15, 2019: Armed drones attack Saudi oil facilities. US blames Iran, which denies involvement.
  • Sept. 20, 2019: US sanctions Iran central bank
  • Sept. 26, 2019: France fails to broker meeting between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at UN General Assembly
  • Oct. 31, 2019: US announces new sanctions on Iran’s construction sector
  • Nov. 5, 2019: Iran restarts uranium enrichment at Fordow
  • Nov. 19, 2019: US ends sanctions waivers for Iranian civil nuclear work at Fordow
  • Dec. 4, 2019: Rouhani says he’s willing to meet with Trump if US lifts sanctions
  • Dec. 6, 2019: US sanctions three Iran-backed militia leaders in Iraq

Dec. 8, 2019: US and Iran swap one prisoner for another

  • Dec. 12, 2019: US blames Iran for 9 rocket attacks against Iraq bases hosting US troops in 5 weeks
  • Dec. 27, 2019: Rocket attack on Iraqi base near Kirkuk kills US civilian contractor Nawres Hamid
  • Dec. 29, 2019: US strikes Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah positions in Iraq, killing two dozen fighters
  • Dec. 31, 2019: Iran-backed militias storm the US embassy in Baghdad
  • Jan. 3, 2020: US kills Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in drone strike
  • Jan. 5, 2020: Trump tweets that he will “quickly and fully strike back” against Iranian attacks on “any US person or target”
  • Jan. 6, 2020: Iraq parliament votes to expel US troops under Iranian pressure
  • Jan. 7, 2020: Iran strikes Iraqi bases hosting US troops
  • Jan. 8, 2020: Trump decides not to retaliate for attack that caused no US casualties


Photography credits (in order of appearance)

Hamid Vakili/NurPhoto via Getty Images

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst


REUTERS/Erin Scott

REUTERS/Mahmood Hosseini/TIMA

Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS

REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto via Getty Images

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

REUTERS/Satish Kumar

U.S. Army/Spc. Hubert Delany III/Handout via REUTERS

Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina


REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA

WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images via Getty Images

REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov

REUTERS/Kareem Raheem

REUTERS/Marius Bosch

Hamid Family Photo

REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani

REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Iraqi Government

WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Nazanin Tabatabaee via REUTERS

US Government

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque