Why Is the Iranian Embassy in Washington Closed?


Quick Answer

The Iranian Embassy in Washington closed in April of 1980 due to the cutting of diplomatic ties between the United States and Iran in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. The Department of State maintains the embassy and its grounds in the event of a re-establishment of formal ties, and Iran maintains a department inside the Pakistan Embassy to handle any diplomatic necessities in the United States.

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Full Answer

The Iranian Revolution occurred in 1979, when the people of Iran rose up against the Shah and installed a fundamentalist Islamic government under the Ayatollah Khomeini. As the Shah was a close ally of the United States, Iranian students attacked the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took a number of hostages. This, along with other tensions between the new Iranian government and the West, led to an effective severance of diplomatic communication. The hostages were eventually freed in 1981, but normal relations were not restored between the two countries.

As of 2015, the Iranian Embassy in Washington D.C. remains empty and unused, despite a slight thawing of relations between Iran and the United States. Iran owns 10 other properties in the United States, some of which have also remained empty since the Revolution. Others house art or historic installations relating to Iran and its people.

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