On March 20, 1951, members of the Iranian Parliament voted unanimously in favor of a bill introduced by the country’s then democratically-elected prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddeq, to nationalize Iran’s oil industry.
On March 15, 1951, legislation to nationalize the oil industry was passed by Parliament with a majority of votes. On March 17, the Majlis (Parliament) verified the nationalization of Iran oil industry.
Mosaddeq garnered the support of his nationalist party and religious figures led by prominent cleric, Ayatollah Abolqassem Kashani, for the initiative.
The initiative put an end to Britain’s four-decade monopoly over Iran’s oil industry. Before the bill was passed, the British oil giant, known as the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), enjoyed monopolistic control over the industry and used to pay only a small share of the revenues to the Iranian government.
Iran had to pay a tough price for claiming its oil resources because Britain was not ready to easily give up its dominance over the Iranian crude.
In the first year of the nationalization, an Italian merchant ship was the buyer of Iranian crude oil.
In retaliation for Mosaddeq’s revolutionary move, Britain and the United States imposed sanctions against Iran’s oil sector and later colluded to stage a coup against the ex-premier’s government in 1953.
Six decades after the notorious coup, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the first time published a document in August 2013 which confirmed Washington’s role in the coup d’état.
“The military coup that overthrew Mosaddeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government,” reads a brief segment from an internal CIA history.
Iran possesses about 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves. The country joined the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1960 and has been among the major oil producers in the group.
President Hassan Rouhani said in November 2019 that Iran has discovered a new oilfield containing 53 billion barrels of crude in southwestern province of Khuzestan.
Rouhani said the discovery was made despite US hostilities which have mainly targeted Iran’s oil sector.
"It is a large oilfield that extends from Bostan to the vicinity of Omidiyeh spanning an area of 2,400 square kilometers with a depth of 80 meters," he said.
"Today we are announcing to the US that we are a rich country and despite your enmity and tyrannical sanctions, the Iranian oil industry's workers and engineers have succeeded in discovering this vast oilfield," Rouhani added.
The US has unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against Tehran since unilaterally withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Rouhani said, "The first thing I would like to emphasize is that we have withstood the pressure exerted by foreigners over the past year, during which our people had to go through difficult times."
It’s almost two years since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal with Iran and embarked on a policy of “maximum pressure.”
Trump has been piling sanctions and heating up the rhetoric against Tehran, saying he aims to negotiate a better agreement with Iran and his policy will bring the Iranians to the table for that new deal.
However, the maximum pressure policy has not succeeded in bringing Iran to the negotiating table or curbing its regional activities across the region as sought by Washington.
"In fact, maximum pressure seems to have backfired and pushed Iran across the edge," the Independent wrote in November 2019.
According to the paper, "economically, Iran has been able to draw on some of its financial reserves to cushion off the impact of US sanctions."
Politically, Iran has been able to utilize the theme of nationalism and historic grievances about big power bullying and fend off any unrest, it said.
From an international perspective, the Independent wrote in 2019 that the world is more sympathetic to Iran’s position in the nuclear dispute than the United States, because Iran stayed strictly committed to the nuclear deal for one year, after the US left the deal and violated its terms.
"There is also not much admiration for Mr Trump on the international stage – except among right-wing authoritarian and neo-fascist groups – and that also helps Iran," it added.
The Trump administration’s policy on Iran, the paper said, has isolated the United States and diminished its leverage to enforce the JCPOA, if not open the door to its complete destruction.
"At the moment, President Trump and his administration are running out of options on Iran. There is not much left to sanction in Iran, and short of military conflict, there is not a lot more pressure that can be applied," it added.
* Press TV, IRNA, and Shana contributed to this story.