[Photo] The Shah of Iran, Jimmy Carter, the Shahbanou of Iran and Rosalynn Carter Participate in a Formal Pose During a State Dinner, 11/15/77, Jimmy Carter Library [ARC#176872]
The Shah visits the White House and gives a tapestry of George Washington to the Carters as a gift. Carter was the 8th U. S. President the Shah had known.
Sept 7, 1978
The Shah declares marshal law throughout Iran, following which there is a bloody confrontation between police and protesting Muslims. Several hundred people were killed and after this incident and as a result… THE STRENGTH OF THE DEMONSTRATORS GREW AS THEY DEMANDED THE SHAH’S ABDICATION (Carter, 438)
The Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran from Paris, where he had been in exile for 14 years.
Oct 20, 1979
The decision is made to admit the Shah to the U. S. for medical treatment.
Oct 22, 1979
The Shah arrives in New York and is admitted to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center to be treated for cancer and gallstones (Brinkley, 10)
According to Carter, “Cy reported to me on October 22: ‘The Iranian Government reacted with moderation when informed by us that the Shah will visit the United States for medical reasons. We have told them that neither the Shah nor the Shahbanou [Empress Farah]… will engage in political activity.” (Carter, 456)
Written 5 days before the embassy is overrun, the memo reflects concern for an upcoming religious holiday/political demonstration to protest U.S. policy and Shah’s presence in NYC.
While noting that a rally and march are supposed to end at some distance from the embassy, Aaron also writes “but the chances of demonstrations or an attack there are considerable.”
Aaron notes that contingency plans are in place for this, and that “The security of the building has been greatly reinforced since February and is nearly impregnable short of a heavy weapons attack. The Iranian police have promised to provide security for the compound.”
NOV 4, 1979
The U.S. Embassy in Iran is overrun by 3,000 militants. They take 66 Americans captive (3 of them 66 fr the Iranian Foreign Ministry). 6 more Americans escaped. Of the 66 taken hostage, 13 were released on Nov. 19th and 20th; one was released on July 11, 1980, and the remaining 52 were released on Jan 20, 1981. The hostages ranged in age from 21 to 65 years old, came from 26 states, and varied in occupation from Marine guards, to a Private businessman, to an embassy cultural officer.
Kenneth Bleakely(?), President, American Foreign Service Association(?), writes Carter noting that the AFSA “wished to emphasize that the protection of the lives and safety of the individual Americans involved must remain the paramount concern of the United States Government.”
Carter’s approach to the crisis suggests that he either adopted or wholeheartedly agreed with the AFSA about the primacy of hostage safety from the very beginning of the crisis.
Nov 6, 1979
[Letter] Jimmy Carter to Ayatollah Khomeini re the Release of the Iranian Hostages, 11/6/79, Jimmy Carter Library [ARC#593939]
Delivered by Ramsey Clark(?) and William G. Miller, the letter asks that the Ayatollah “release unharmed all Americans presently detained in Iran and those held with them…”
Carter also assembled a team and commenced plans for a possible rescue mission on this day (Carter, 459)
Nov 8, 1979
[Memo] Beckel(?) to Jordan(?) re Congressional Reaction to U. S. Iranian Students Protests, 11/8/79, Jimmy Carter Library
After having briefed 200 members of the House on the Iranian situation Jordan brought several observations to Beckel’s attention:
“There is an extraordinary amount of hostility running through the Congress toward the Iranian students in the United States – from left to right, Democrat to Republican.” Also, “we are encouraged almost unanimously to stop all demonstrations by Iranian students and to use our influence with local governments to refuse permits across the country.”
“Tom Harkin on the left and Bob Dornan on the right have joined forces to call for the ouster of the Shah.”
Nov 9, 1979
Carter walks over to the State Department to meet with the hostages’ families
Nov 11, 1979
Carter embargoes Iranian oil
Nov 13, 1979
[Letter] Jimmy Carter to Rita Ode re Hostage Safety, 11/13/79, Jimmy Carter Library
Carter tells Mrs. Ode, “When others might call for unhelpful measures, you have understood that all of us must follow a determined course of responsible behavior.” He also tells her, “Our utmost concern will continue to be the safety of each of those you love.”
Nov 14, 1979
[Executive Order] Executive Order Blocking Iranian Government Property, 11/14/79, Jimmy Carter Library
He does so citing the powers vested in him via the U.S. Constitution, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and the National Emergencies act.
The E.O. states that “the situation in Iran constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States…”
Carter blocked delivery of $300 million dollars in military items to Iran.
Nov 17, 1979
Khomeini announced that the Iranians would release 13 women and blacks “who were not spies” because women and minorities already suffered “the oppression of American society.” With that said, two women and one African-American did remain among the 53 hostages left.
The Carter administration reaction to this? “Mixed emotions.”
Carter: “We had sent strong warnings that the trial or punishment of any hostage would bring serious consequences, involving military action, so we viewed this release of thirteen of the hostages with mixed emotions.”
Nov 19 & 20
13 women and African-Americans among those seized at the embassy are released.
Apr 1, 1980
Bani-Sadr(?) announces that control over American hostages will be transferred to the Iranian government (not carried out)
Apr 7, 1980
President Carter makes an announcement about Iran, addresses Congress, and issues an executive order. He announces punitive measures against Iran such as breaking diplomatic relations with their government, closing down the Iranian embassy and consulate, issuing sanctions against U. S. imports to Iran, and using the already-frozen Iranian assets being held in U. S. banks to pay out damage claims to the hostages’ family members.
“The Unites States has used every diplomatic and legal means available to it to end this extraordinary threat, but without avail.” ~ JC
Deportation proceedings were started on Iranian students illegally in the U. S. He ordered all Iranian oil imports suspended. Iran, in response, decided to withdraw billions in U. S. banks. Carter countered by freezing ALL Iranian assets held in U. S. banks.
Apr 11, 1980
The decision is made to proceed with Operation Eagle Claw, the hostage rescue mission
Apr 21, 1980
Cyrus Vance(?) submits his resignation over his disagreement with the soundness of the decision to attempt a rescue
Apr 24, 1980
Apr 25 >
Operation Eagle Claw fails and 8 U. S. servicemen from the all-volunteer Joint Special Operations Group were killed in the Great Salt Desert near Tabas, Iran.
Carter addresses the nation via tv and takes responsibility for the mission’s failure. Footage of this can be found easily on the world wide web. Speaking to the timing of the rescue attempt, President Carter said “This rescue attempt had to await my judgment that the Iranian authorities could not or would not resolve this crisis on their own initiative.”
Secretary Brown holds a news conference during which he goes into great detail about the logistics of the failed rescue attempt.
Apr 28, 1980
Carter accepts Vance’s resignation…
The Shah dies, opening the door for a negotiated settlement between the U. S. and Iran for release of the hostages that wouldn’t come until mid January of 1981.
July 11, 1980
One hostage, Richard Queen of NY, NY, was freed because of an illness later diagnosed as multiple sclerosis.
Sept 22, 1980
Iraq invades Iran and Khomeini realizes his nation couldn’t take on 2 powerful enemies at once (Brinkley, 11).
Jan 18, 1981
Iran offers to release the hostages in return for $2.5 billion in Iranian assets held by the Federal Reserve, along with $5.5 billion in Iranian assets held in U. S. banks in Europe.
Nov 4, 1980
The One-Year Anniversary of the hostage crisis. Ronald Reagan defeats Jimmy Carter in a landslide this election day.
The Iranian government demanded that the U.S. deposit a $24 billion “ransom” for the hostages in an Algerian bank. Carter refused to bend to extortion (Brinkley, 34)
Jan 16, 1981
Carter negotiates final terms for release of American hostages