Knowledge unlocks a world of possibilities The Robinson Library

Home About The Library Navigation Help Sitemap Terms of Use Contact Information

  American HistoryUnited States: General History and DescriptionLate 20th Century, 1961-2000Jimmy Carter's Administration, 1977-1981
the taking of the embassystudents surround the U.S. EmbassyThe Iranian Hostage Crisis

On November 4, 1979, Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took some 90 people hostage.

The students, supported by Iran's leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, said they would not release the hostages until exiled ruler Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was returned to Iran for trial. The Shah, who had been living in Mexico, had entered the United States in October for medical treatment. By November 20, about 50 Americans remained hostage in the Embassy. Non-Americans and some American blacks and women had been released.

On December 4, 1979, the United Nations Security Council demanded that Iran release the Americans. Later in the month, the International Court of Justice condemned the holding of the hostages. On December 31, the Security Council voted to give Iran one week to release the hostages or face possible economic sanctions. On the same day, U.N. General Secretary Kurt Waldheim flew to Iran to try to negotiate a solution.

Christmas cards for the hostagesOn December 24, 1979, three American clergymen and the Archbishop of Algiers held Christmas services at the U.S. Embassy for the hostages. They brought with them Christmas cards from hundreds of thousands of people all over the United States (left).

Ruhollah Khomeini
Mohammed Reza Pahlavi
Kurt Waldheim

Questions or comments about this page?

  The Robinson Library > American History > United States: General History and Description > Late 20th Century, 1961-2000 > Jimmy Carter's Administration, 1977-1981

This page was last updated on August 12, 2016.

About This Site | Navigation Help | Sitemap | Terms of Use | Contact