Socialist Worker

US and Britain’s record of torture, war and robbery in Iran

Issue No. 2045

US soldiers load bombs onto a warplane during a military exercise in the Persian Gulf

US soldiers load bombs onto a warplane during a military exercise in the Persian Gulf

The capture of 15 Royal Navy personnel by Iran has been used to ratchet up the threats against the country. The US has sent two aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf, with a third battle group on its way this week. All three are nuclear armed.

The whipped-up “hostage crisis” has led some pro-war voices to call more loudly for “intervention” in Iran. But the US and Britain have a record of “intervention” in that country – and it’s a record steeped in blood. It includes:


The US and Britain deposed Iran’s democratically elected president in 1953 and placed absolute power in the hands of the Shah. Together with his Savak security thugs, the Shah presided over a brutal regime for the next 25 years. Savak murdered thousands during their reign of terror and tortured countless more Iranians.

According to the Federation of American Scientists their methods included “electric shocks, whipping, beating, inserting broken glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth and nails.”


The Shah was overthrown in a popular revolution in 1979. The US responded by backing Saddam Hussein, the dictator of neighbouring Iraq, who had launched an aggressive war against Iran in 1980.

The US supplied Saddam with economic aid, intelligence and weapons – including the agents for botulism, tetanus, and anthrax.

The Iran-Iraq war lasted nine years and led to the deaths of 300,000 Iranians and up to 240,000 Iraqis.


Ever since oil was discovered in Iran at the begining of the 20th century, imperial powers have fallen over themselves to ruthlessly suck the oil wealth out of the country.

The Anglo-Persian Oil Company – now part of BP – had a monopoly on Iran’s oil from 1909 to 1951. It made enormous profits, only a small fraction of which stayed in Iran.

Millions of ordinary people in Iran are determined to resist any new attempts by the US and Britain to undermine the Iranian government. The anti-war movement around the world must stand by them.

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