Diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Iran were established in 1952, and the Iranian legation opened in Germany that same year. In addition to economic ties, the two countries developed particularly close relations in the education sector. The numerous German vocational schools in Iran came to be regarded as valued educational partners. Even today, the reputation of these former schools contributes to the generally positive view of Germany in Iran.
Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, relations between the two countries were severely strained in some areas, and since 2003 they have been shaped by concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) of 14 July 2015 between the E3/EU+3 countries and Iran (see link on the right for more information on the Iranian nuclear programme) has created an opportunity for closer bilateral relations and for regular political consultations, also on regional issues. Germany, France, the UK and the EU are standing by the nuclear agreement, even after the withdrawal of the United States. The German Government continues to follow the human rights situation in Iran with concern.
Economic relations between Germany and Iran have traditionally been close. Some 30 percent of Iran’s industrial infrastructure was produced in Germany. In 2018, trade between Germany and Iran fell by 7 percent compared to 2017 to approximately 3.15 billion euros. German exports to Iran were worth around 2.7 billion euros, while German imports from Iran amounted to roughly 440 million euros. Germany was thus the largest EU exporter to Iran in 2018.
The withdrawal of the United States from the JCPoA, announced by President Trump on 8 May 2018, and the re-imposition on 7 August and 5 November 2018 as well as on 2 May 2019 of US secondary sanctions have had a serious impact on economic conditions. Between January and April 2019, trade with Iran fell by around 50 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. Export credit and direct investment guarantees are still available to German companies.
Both countries have a keen interest in cultural exchange. This applies in particular to bilateral scientific and academic relations. A whole generation of Iranian scientists and academics were trained at German universities, and today many former students support joint German-Iranian research projects and a strengthening of bilateral cooperation in higher education. In 2014, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) opened its new Information Centre in Tehran. There are four lectors working in the country. The number of Iranian students, postgraduates and researchers receiving DAAD funding grows each year. All in all, 1258 Iranians received funding in 2017 (2015: 616, 2016: 967). Furthermore, the DAAD enabled 199 German students, postgraduates, researchers and university lecturers to go to Iran in 2017 (2015: 194, 2016: 193). Other German institutions active in Tehran are the German Embassy’s Deutsches Sprachinstitut Teheran (DSIT), the German Embassy School Tehran (DBST), the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and a Protestant congregation led by a German pastor. Promoting German as a foreign language as well as scientific and academic relations are of particular importance. In 2017, total enrolment in DSIT’s language courses (across all levels) was almost 11,000, and more than 16,000 learners of German sat the Goethe-Institut’s central exams. In addition, the DSIT offers further-education courses for Iranian teachers of German and is training a new generation of teachers.
The German Embassy is promoting the learning of German at school level by currently providing special support to seven Iranian schools that offer German. In this connection, an annual national German Language Olympics has been held in Iran since April 2014.