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Ripped From the Headlines: Key Concepts

A guide to understanding the wider context behind stories in the news.


Economic sanctions have had a crippling effect on the Iranian economy.  The lifting of those sanctions was a major part of the nuclear deal.  The Trump administrations decision to re-impose the sanctions could lead to unintended consequences.

Islam in Iran

Islam is a major force in Iran, influencing all aspects of social and political life.  Unlike most of its neighbors, Iran is primarily made up of Shia Muslims. Under the Shah, Iran was a secular, Western-leaning country.  After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, however, Iran became an Islamic Republic, with ultimate authority in the hands of the Supreme Leader, an Islamic cleric.


Stuxnet is a type of cyber weapon known as a malignant worm.  It is believed to have been developed jointly by the United States and Israel and was deployed in 2010 to disable Iranian nuclear facilities.

Nuclear Inspections



Verification that Iran is complying with the guidelines is of the Nuclear agreement is a key componant of the JCPOA.  This requires that regular inspections are made by the International Atomic Energy Agency.  

Nuclear Proliferation


Currently, 9 nations make up the "nuclear club" -- the nations that possess nuclear weapons.  These include United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.  

State Sponsors of Terrorism


The U.S. Department of State first designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984.  They continue to be on that list today.  They are known to support Hizballah as well as other terrorist groups primarily in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Iran - Country Information

Formerly known as Persia, Iran is an oil-rich theocratic republic bordered by the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan.

Iran's Oil Industry

Iran is one of the largest oil and natural gas producing and exporting nations in the world.  Iran ranks second in the world in natural gas reserves and fourth in proven crude oil reserves. Iran also ranks sixth in oil production and third in oil export among all nations.


US Prisoners in Iran

Over the years, several Americans have been imprisoned in Iran on seemingly trumped-up charges.  In some cases, they've been subjected to torture and brutal treatment and been sentenced to harsh penalties without due process.