Perhaps the greatest strains on Iran's economy are isolation from the international community and the economic sanctions that have been imposed on the country by the United States. A sanction is a ban on imports from a country, imposed as a penalty on countries that pose a risk to the safety and security of the international community. The United States began imposing sanctions on Iran after the hostage crisis in 1979, including a ban on importing oil from Iran. Although some sanctions were lifted after the release of the hostages in 1981, each successive U.S. administration has imposed some restriction on trade with Iran, including an almost continuous ban on oil imports from Iran. The U.S. president George W. Bush, who has called Iran part of "the axis of evil," extended sanctions originally imposed in 1995 by the U.S. president Bill Clinton (1993-2001), barring U.S. companies and their foreign subsidiaries from doing business with Iran or investing in the development of Iran's petroleum resources. According to the U.S. government, the sanctions are a U.S. response to Iran's support of terrorism, its disruption of peace efforts in the Middle East, and its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program.
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