History of the United States
Politics and Government
US Army History and Traditions

What was the Iran Hostage Situation?

User Avatar
Wiki User
November 20, 2007 7:48PM

In November of 1979 a mob in Tehran, Iran stormed the United States Embassy and took the entire staff hostage. This was done with the encouragement of the Iranian government which did nothing to protect the embassy as they were bound to do. Eventually the Iranian government took charge of the hostages from the mob but did not release them. Over time some were released, such as the women, but the rest were not. President Carter was unwilling to use military force, despite the fact that siezing an embassy like that is, in fact, an act of war, and was reduced to fruitless diplomatic efforts. When Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 (actually on the anniversary of the hostage siezure)the dynamic suddenly changed because it was clear he would use military force and the Iranians began serious negotiations. They dragged it out as long as they could in order to humiliate Carter but finally released the hostages on the day Reagan took office, just after he was sworn in, 444 days after the storming of the embassy. Michael Montagne My recollection of the events is that Carter had worked out a deal, bush Reagan sent his VP runningmate to meet with the Iranians and promised them a deal if they would hold the hostages until Reagan took office. This was called the "October Surprise", a term that still exists. Congress investigated and found some suspicious actions, but not enough evidence to warrent prosecution. The hostages were released 7 minutes after Reagan took office and Reagan responded with selling weapons to Iran.