Iran is a complex country with a long history and a variety of sources of power and influence in international affairs. Because of its strategic location on the north bank of the Strait of Hormuz, its often tense relationships with its neighbors, with the United States, and with other countries around the world take on added importance. Iranian political and military leaders have explicitly promised to try to control the flow of oil through the Strait as a lever in international politics. They have notably threatened to retaliate by "closing the Strait" if the United States or another country were to attack Iran. This threat is a key part of Iran's deterrent posture.

This website cannot provide a full picture of the various influences on Iranian decision-making or even the influences on Iranian decisions specifically about the Strait of Hormuz. Here, we only offer a brief primer on Iran's political structure, its military capabilities, the role of religion in Iranian decision-making, Iran's economy, and the history of its foreign relations.

A brief summary: Since the fall of the Shah in 1979, nationalistic and Islamic fundamentalist zeal have motivated many of Iran's strategic policies. More recently, however, aspirations for economic development and regional security may have played a larger role in shaping Iran's policies and actions.[i]

In this section:

[i] Daniel Byman, Shahram Chubin, Anoushiravan Ehteshami, and Jerrold D. Green, Iran's Security Policy in the Post-Revolutionary Era (Santa Monica: RAND, 2001).

This page last modified in August 2008