Since 1941, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, otherwise known as the Shah of Iran, ruled Iran as a sort-of quasi-King, with some progressive ideas to reform and modernize the centuries old former Persian kingdom. His pro-Western stance, combined with his visions to turn the clock back to resemble the imperial courts of old by replacing the Islamic calendar with an “imperial” one (see more at:
http://www.iranchamber.com/history/mohammad_rezashah/mohammad_rezashah.php#sthash.RCBScBNY.dpuf), provoked the Iranian populace to eventually foment an uprising against his reign. Beginning in 1979, the Shah fled his country and lived in exile outside Iran, as a result of the growing discontent in his country, which resulted in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The Shah was to eventually be admitted to the United States for the treatment of cancer, which had invaded his body and for which it eventually took his life.
After the Iranian Revolution, the United States government initiated sanctions against Iran as a means to discourage Iran from furthering development of a nuclear weapon capability. These initial sanctions occurred after the previously pro-Western Shah was replaced with a more militant Islamic regime, which still rules today. The United States expanded the sanctions in 1995 to include businesses, and again imposed sanctions upon Iran in 2006, when the Iranian government refused to suspend its enrichment of uranium.
The agency which handles world nuclear regulation and inspection, if the parties are signatory to this agreement, is the International Agency for Atomic Energy (the IAEA) (For additional information on inspection reports and other information on Iran’s nuclear capabilities and its dealings with the IAEA, please see a report by The Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C., at the following website: http://www.isisnucleariran.org/documents/iaea/).
The IAEA was thwarted in its attempts to inspect certain of Iran’s nuclear sites, and Iran has lied about the number of its facilities and their capabilities. This action went on for many years, when the U.S. decided it had had enough of these cat-and-mouse games and imposed sanctions upon Iran, whose consequences involved freezing U.S.-held Iranian bank assets, prohibiting U.S. citizens from conducting business with Iran, and other such punitive measures, according to Wikipedia and other sources. Over the years, this has had a crippling effect on the Iranian economy, although in an April 24th, 2013 article written by Samuel Burke at CNN with the airing of a televised segment, Iranian Finance Minister, Seyyed Shamseddin Hosseini, has declared that the U.S. sanctions have had virtually no effect upon its economy (see http://amanpour.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/24/irans-finance-minister-sanctions-havent-crippled-us).
An Egyptian businessman named Mohamed ElBaradei once was the ruling head of this agency, prior to his participation in recent Egyptian elections. He has run in Egyptian elections to be Prime Minister as well as in more recent times, to be President (see: http://www.bbc.com/news/10420218 for a profile on Mohamed ElBaradei).
A government can also impose sanctions upon another countries’ states, or even upon certain groups which operate independently of a state, such as terrorist groups or individual persons who have committed acts of terrorism. A terrorist list is compiled by the U.S. State Department, so that U.S. citizens may know which groups or individuals comprise terrorist perpetrators and can act accordingly. Such lists are used for no-fly lists so that airport security personnel can be apprised of potential terrorists who may try to pass through their terminals and screen them for no-entry to the planes. Businesses and individuals may not conduct transactions or provide aid or comfort to the enemy, meaning those who are listed among the State Department’s lists.
According to Wikipedia, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterrerrorism retains a list of state sponsors of terrorism, which was begun in December of 1979, and included Libya, Iraq, South Yemen and Syria among its listees. Other countries added to it included Cuba in 1982, Iran in 1984, North Korea in 1988, and Sudan in 1993. It says that Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Yemen have been removed, although Iran was still listed on it. Additional it states that the four main aims of the bureau is to:
1) make no concessions to terrorists;
2) bring them to justice;
3) isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to change their behavior; and
4) bolster others that work with us.
Therefore, I have never quite understood why our own government acts as if they are above the law when they provide military weapons, parts, or training of the forces inside a country we have deemed as hostile to the U.S. For instance, we have been engaged in a decade-long war in Afghanistan, yet our soldiers are providing top-notch training to Afghanis in weapons usage, tactics and strategies. Rather than lessen terrorism, this provides the means by which our self-declared enemies might know our own strategies to use against us, and the weapons they receive will only ratchet up the level of violence even further.