Iran-Contra Time Line


July 17 Somoza ousted by Sandinista National Liberation Front

Nov 04 Hostages taken at US embassy in Iran

Nov 14 US imposes embargo on arms shipments to Iran


Apr 07 US cut ties with Iran
Apr 17 US banned imports from Iran
Apr 15 Failed US rescue mission

May 31 Aid bill passed for Nicaragua

Sep 22 Iran-Iraq war begins


Jan 20 Reagan Inauguration
Jan 20 US embassy hostages Freed

February 1981 Reagan suspend aid to Nicaragua

August 1981 North joins NCS

December 1981 Reagan signs Contra Aid - Reagan signs National Intelligence Finding


June 08 Project Democracy - North describe this as funding for covert operation.

July 1982 US becomes aware of Iran's support for international terrorism

Dec 21 First Boland Amendment - Bars CIA and Defense Department from spending money towards overthrow of Sandinistas


Spring 1983 Operation Staunch - State Department effort to discourage other countries from selling arms to Iran.

Apr 27 Reagan addresses congress on Central America. Defends aid to Contras

September 1983 First Presidential Finding on Contras signed

Oct 17 McFarlane appointed National Security Advisor
Oct 23 Beirut - US servicemen killed in attack by pro-Iranian Lebanese

Nov 3 Meeting between Rodriguez, Gregg and Vice President Bush
Nov 18 Project America approved

December 1983 Congress imposes cap of $24 million on Contra aid
Dec 8 Second Boland Amendment approved
Dec 12 Bombings in Kuwait - seventeen terrorists convicted


Jan 13 McFarlane wants reversal of US policy towards Iran and suggests covert operations
Jan 20 Operation Staunch - Shultz declares Iran sponsor of international terrorism.
Jan 23 More controls on exports to Iran

Feb 10 Reiger kidnapped in Lebanon

Mar 7 Levin kidnapped in Lebanon
Mar 16 CIA Station Chief in Beirut kidnapped - William Buckley
Mar 27 Contra Aid solicited from Israel

April 1984 Contra Aid solicited from Saudi Arabia
Apr 6 Wall Street Journal reports CIA Mining harbor in Nicaragua

May 1984 Saudi Arabia agrees to contribute $1 million per month to Contras
May 8 Weir kidnapped in Lebanon
May 28 Stinger missiles sent to Saudi Arabia

June 25 Contra Aid rejected by congress

Summer 1984 Iran seeks TOW Missiles. North recruits Secord at Casey's suggestion

July 1984 Secord and North set up private arms sales to Contras
July 6 Saudi Arabia send first $1 million in Contra Aid

Sep 2 Contra loose their only helicopter in northern front. North wants to replace it. McFarlane thinks this is illegal
Sep 15 CIA transfers surplus aircraft to Contras
Sep 27 State Department announces new restriction on shipments to Iran.

Oct 12 Third Boland Amendment
Oct 12 "Contra Manual" developed by CIA is made public

Nov 07 North send McFarlane intelligence memo supporting Contras
Nov 08 Contra Aid ban - intelligence fund bans money for Contras. White House decided ban did not include NSC
Nov 19 Shackley and Ghorbanifar discuss US paying ransom for hostages and trade US TOWs missiles for captured Soviet weapons.

December 1984 First of North's weapons shipments leave Portugal for Honduras
Dec 03 Peter Kilburn kidnapped in Lebanon
Dec 4-12 Kuwait airliner hijacked. Flown to Tehran. Two Americans killed. Iran refuses to extradite kidnappers.
Dec 11 CIA tells Poindexter there are no intelligence assets in Iran


Jan 08 Rev. Lawrence Jenco kidnapped in Lebanon
Jan 18 Finding sign by RWR requiring additional interagency evaluation of all covert activities.
Jan 22 Rodriguez - Bush meet. Rodriguez wants to work with El Salvador on counterinsurgency

February - May Secord makes first of four private arms sales to Contras
Feb 11-12 Saudi King Fahd visits RWR. Agrees to pay 2 million per month in Contra Support.
Feb 13 Jeremy Levine escapes from kidnappers

Mar 11 Terry Anderson kidnapped in Beirut
Mar 16 North proposes RWR solicit private funding for Contras if congress won't fund Contras

Apr 04 RWR proposes cease-fire between Sandinistas and Contras
Apr 11 North tells McFarlane Contras are running out of money.
Apr 23 House rejects Contra funding

May 01 President imposes economic sanctions on Nicaragua
May 28 David Jacobsen kidnapped in Beirut

June 1985 Coors tells Casey he wants to help Contras. Casey sends Coors to North.
June 3 William Buckley dies while being held by kidnappers
June 7 Shackley Report. Iran wants dialogue with US and quid pro quo on issues other than money
June 7

June 9 Thomas Sutherland kidnapped in Beirut
June 12 House reverses previous vote and passes Contra Aid
June 14 TWA hijacking to Beirut. McFarlane suggests using Israelis to open channel to Iran.
June 19 Iran send message that it wants to help in TWA hijacking.
June 30

June -July Taiwan gives aid to Contras
June 1985 Southern front begins from airfield in Costa Rica.

July 3 David Kimche, director general of Israelis foreign ministry tells McFarlane, Israel has opened dialogue with Iran.
July 8 President's speech before American Bar Iran part of "Confederation of terrorist states...America will never make concessions to terrorists."
July 11 Hostage - Arms swap proposed by Israeli arms dealer Schimmer
Mid July 1985 McFarlane visits RWR in hospital and briefs him on arms for hostage

Aug 2 McFarlane meets with Kimche. Iran wants 100 TOW misses for release of all hostages in Beirut. There are conflicting reports concerning RWR's approval of plan.
Aug 6 Shultz opposes plan for Israel to transfer 100 TOW missiles to Iran.
Aug 8 National Security Planning Group meeting on Kimche plan to swap 100 TOW missiles for hostages. Shultz and Weinberger against plan. Not clear who else opposes plan or if RWR approves.
Aug 15 Contra aid resumes again.
Aug 30 Israel transfers 100 TOW missiles to Iran.

Early September 1985 North goes to Lebanon to take control of hostage release.
Sep 4 On anniversary of Iranian revolution, the president and prime minister attack Soviet Union. No mention of USA.
Sep 10-12 Kimche tell McFarlane to expect hostage release and for him to pick one. McFarlane chooses Buckley. Buckley died earlier. McFarlane chooses Wier who is released Sep 15.
Sep 14 An additional 408 TOWs transferred to Iran. Iran pays Ghorbanifar for TOWs
Sep 20 North writes Rodriguez that two planes are being sent to Contras

October Taiwan contribute to Contras
Oct 7 Cruise Ship Hijacked -Achille Lauro. American Leon Klinghoffer killed.

Early November Israel inquires if it could buy more TOWs to replace those sold to Iran.
Nov 14 Terry Waite reported that kidnappers are under pressure and they may kill hostages. Also reports Buckley dead.
Nov 19 North request Secord's help in transferring missiles from Israel to Iran.
Nov 22-25 Two separate shipment of Hawk missiles are flown to Iran. Both are rejected and to be returned. Money is returned to Iran.

Dec 4 Poindexter named to succeed McFarlane.
Dec 4 Congress allows intelligence aid to Contras
Dec 5 RWR signs intelligence Finding on arms for hostage. Finding is retroactive. Ponidexter replaces McFarlane as National Security Advisor.
Dec 5 North outlines plan to sell 3300 TOW missiles and fifty improved Hawk missiles to Iran for all US hostages and one French hostage.
Dec 7 RWR meets with national security advisors on Iran. Shultz and Weinberger are against plan. Casey favors the plan
Dec 9 North writes McFarlane and Poindexter that there is fifth option using Secord to deliver arms. A Finding would be necessary.


Jan 2 Nir through North proposes new arms sale of 4,000 TOWs for release of all hostage and exchange of Hizballah prisoners held by Southern Lebanon Army. Arms would come from Israel stocks to be replaced later by US.
Jan 6 RWR signs draft Finding along Nir's proposal not realizing that this was a draft.
Jan 9 Finding signed by RWR authorizing CIA intelligence to Contras'
Jan 11 Ghorbanifar takes polygraph and does not pass.
Jan 12 Koch meets Avarham Ben Yousef of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and set $4,500 as price per TOW to be sold to Iran.
Jan 16 CIA warns again not to trust Ghorbanifar
Jan 17 Finding signed on sale of arms to Iran. RWR agrees to direct arms sale. Weinberger directs Major General Colin Powel to arrange the sale.
Jan 21 North requests Swiss bank account. Late January the idea of diversion of profits from Iran arms sale to Contra came about. Several sources are given credit for coming up with the idea.
Jan 24 North's plan for hostage release. Called "Operation Recovery." The plan:

  1. US release intelligence on Iraq to Iran to be given to Ghorbanifar
  2. Funds would be transferred to Swiss accounts to purchase 1000 TOW missiles
  3. $6 millions would wind up in CIA accounts.
  4. Upon delivery of missiles all US hostages and 50 Hizballah prisoners would be exchanged.
  5. After release of hostages 3000 more TOWs would be sold to Iran and 508 to Israel to replace earlier shipments.
  6. Hawk missiles would be returned to Israel.
  7. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini would step down by February 11, 1986
Jan 25 CIA rejects giving intelligence to Iran.
Jan 26 Limited intelligence is passed to Iran

February Poindexter approves transfer of funds by North to Contras
Feb 05 North goes to London and meets with Ghorbanifar, Nir and Iranian contacts.
Feb 10 - April 11 Financing of the deal:

  1. Ghorbanifar gives post dated check to Khashoggi for $12 million
  2. Khashoggi deposits $10 million in Lake Resources account
  3. Lake Resources transfers $3.7 million to CIA Feb 10-11
  4. CIA confirms deposit
  5. CIA tells defense department to release 1,000 TOWs Feb 13
  6. Southern Air Transport flies TOWs to Israel Feb 14
  7. Iran makes payment $7.85 million which passes through several accounts, March 3
  8. Lake Resources paid Khashoggi $12 million
  9. Seventeen Hawk missiles returned to Israel Feb 18
Feb 13 North reports deal is under way
Feb 17 First shipment of 500 TOWs flown from Israel to Iran and Hawks picked up
Feb 18 North request false passports for meeting with Iran in Germany
Feb 20 Iran does not show at meeting
Feb 24-26 Frankfurt meeting between North, Secord, Nir, Hakim and Ghorbanifar and an official of prime minister's office. Agreement was reaches to send 1000 TOWs and one or two hostages would be released
Feb 25 RWR requests Contra Aid from Congress
Feb 27 Second shipment of TOWs to Iran. Promise of hostage release. Secord withdraws $222,000 from Lake Resources account. Money to purchase weapons for Contras. NEPL holds press conference to announce multimillion dollar fund for CAFP.

Mar 5 Congress is notified of transfer of TOWs to CIA

Apr 3-4 North and CIA official meet with Ghorbanifar
Apr 4 North writes memo on diverting fund from Iran to Contras
Apr 11 First Enterprise mission to resupply Contra take place
Apr 14 US Hostage Peter Kilburn killed and two British hostages (Leigh Douglas and Philip Padfield) are killed. Reportedly because US bombed Libya.
Apr 15 Ellen St. John Garwood transferred $2 million to National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty.
Apr 16 Poindexter told North no more arms without hostages being released.
Apr 21 North tells McFarlane Iran wants more concessions. McFarlane will not let Hawk spare parts go until Hostages are released
Apr 22 US Customs Service break up ring in NY to sell arms to Iran. Ghorbanifar is arrested in Switzerland because he invested in scheme

May Perot ransom attempt fails. $200,000 placed in Swiss account for North's children if he should die.
May 1 Rodriguez and Bush meet.
May 8 North informs Poindexter of Israel's offer for Contra aid.
May 14 - August Financing the arms deal:

  1. Ghorbanifar gives Khashoggi post-dated check for $18 million on May 14 to guarantee Iran payment.
  2. Khashoggi deposits $15 million in Lake Resources account.
  3. Lake Resources transfers $6.5 million to CIA account May 15
  4. CIA verifies funds then Defense Department transfers Hawk spare parts and 508 TOWs to CIA May 16 and 19
  5. Southern Air flies arms to Israel May 25 and August 3
  6. Iran makes payments in July and August totaling $8 million
  7. Khashoggi can expose $3 million July 24 and $5 million in August.
  8. By August Khashoggi has been paid $8 million from Lake Resources accounts.
May 15 RWR approves McFarlane's trip to Tehran.
May 25 McFarlane arrives in Teheran
May 28 McFarlane breaks off negotiations and leaves Teheran without hostage release. He delivered one pallet of spare parts for Hawk missiles.

June 8 Miami Herald runs front page article "Despite Ban, US Helping Contras." Names North
June 12 CIA pays Defense Department $5.6 million for TOWs. Paid in several checks below limit to notify congress.
June 25 House approves $100 millions for Contras
June 30 Iran discovers they have been over charged for Hawk missile parts and some part are not good.

July 26 Father Jenco released. Arranged by Ghorbanifar and Israelis
July 29 North memo to Ponidexter predicts hostages will be killed if Hawk parts aren't delivered

Aug 8 240 Hawk missile parts shipped to Iran. Sultan of Brunei is solicited for $10 million for Contras. Money transferred to wrong Swiss Account

Sep 9 American, Frank Reed taken hostage in Lebanon
Sep 12 American, Joseph Cicippio taken hostage in Lebanon
Sep 25 Costa Rican official announce discovery of secret airstrip

Oct 5 Hasenfus flight shot down over Nicaragua
Oct 8 Administration begin denials of any US participation in flight.
Oct 13 - Nov 4 Casey tells North that"...this whole thing was coming unravelled and that things ought to be 'cleaned up.'" North begins shredding documents
Oct 21 Edward Austin Tracy is kidnapped in Beirut by pro-Iranians.
Oct 28 500 TOWs delivered to Iran from Israel's stock and will be replaced with updated TWOs later

Nov 2 David Jacobsen released

Nov 3 Lebanese newspaper, Al-Shiraa, reports US sold arms to Iran
November North and Casey discuss who will be fall guy.
Nov 6 RWR states that there is "no foundation" for arms sale claims
Nov 13 RWR address to nation: "We did not-repeat-did not trade weapons or anything else for hostages nor will we."
Nov 19 At news conference: US involved only after Jan 17 Finding. Only 1000 TOWs were shipped and everything else would fit in one cargo plane. RWR denies Israel involved in shipment of arms. White House issues correction that there was third country involved.
Nov 20 Shultz informs RWR of misstatement at press conference
Nov 21

Nov 22 Nov 23 Meese interviews North (North conceals existence of "Enterprise". North shreds additional documents that night until 4:15 AM.
Nov 25 1) Meese press conference reveals diversion of funds from Iran arms sales to Contras.
2) North's office secured by National Security Council security officers.
3) Fawn Hall smuggles documents out of North's office.
Nov 26 RWR appoints Tower Commission to evaluate National Security Council and examine Iran-Contra Affair. Members: John Tower, Brent Scowcroft and Edmund Muskie

Dec 1 Senate select committee begins preliminary inquiry.
December North and Poindexeter pled fifth amendment before congress
Dec 6 LA Times story of Abram's trip to London to solicit aid from Brunei.
Dec 13 Meeting of Second Channel in Frankfort. This is first meeting with State Department present. Shultz learns of nine-point plan. Dec 14 Shultz reports to RWR the nine-point plan. RWR is "Stunned and Furious"
Dec 16-17 Senate, followed the next day by the House of Representatives name Inouye and Hamilton to chair investigation into Iran-Contra Affair.
Dec 19 Independent council, Lawrence Walsh, appointed


Jan 02

Jan 05 Senate Intelligence Committee voted not to release report on Iran arms scandal
Jan 06 Senate Select Committee created. Contra HQ burglarized and financial records stolen.
Jan 07 House Select Committee created
Jan 08 Senate Intelligence Committee report is leaked by Senator Leahy.
Jan 09 White released documents supporting argument RWR sold arms to Iran for hostages
Jan 11 Senate Intelligence Committee report RWR's personal fund raising for Contras. Saudi Arabia gave money. Israel mad for being accused of giving money.
Jan 12 RWR offers official apology to Israel for blaming in Iran arms
Jan 14 Frank Carlucci signs directive against NSC in future covert activities like Iran arms. Efforts to obtain private funding not included special grand jury is assigned to independent counsel Lawrence Walsh for Iran arms investigation
Jan 19 RWR distancing from Iran arms investigation
Jan 20 Terry Waite taken hostage in Beirut. Tie made between drugs and Contra money with help of DEA & CIA
Jan 21 State Department finds documents outlining arms-for-hostage plan. Shultz believe Col. North and CIA did it.
Jan 23 Special Prosecutor asked congress not to grant immunity to North & Poindexter.
Jan 24 Lebanon: Kidnapping of Alan Steen, Robert Polhill, Jesse Turner & Mithileshwar Singh
Jan 27 State of the Union Address: "The goals were worthy... But we did not achieve what we wished, and serious mistakes were made in trying to do so."
Jan 29

Feb 01

Feb 02 Feb 09
Feb 11 Rafsanjani claims he received RWR phone # - arms deal.
Feb 12 North accused of raising private funds for Contras.
Feb 14 Tower Commission find computer files indicating coverup by North, Poindexter & McFarlane.
Feb 15 NY Times gives code name "Project Democracy" to Contra arms deal.
Feb 16 Contra leader Adolfo Calero resigns from United Nicaraguan Opposition (UNO). Hakim, Secord, & North hold joint Swiss bank account. Hakim & Secord buy freighter Erria in arms deal.
Feb 17 Gates hearing begin - CIA director.
Feb 18 Carl "Spitz" Channell & North under investigation for money raising for Toys Project, Contra aid.
Feb 22 Fawn Hall, North's secretary, reported she helped him destroy documents Nov. 21
Feb 24 Feb 26

Mar 03 Poindexter take demotion rather than resign.
Mar 04

Mar 05 Neil Reagan (RWR brother) states RWR ordered Iran arms sale.
Mar 06 Contras admit they got money from North's secret account.
Mar 09 Arturo Cruz resigns as Contra leader.
Mar 11 RWR phoney laryngitis used to avoid questions from press.
Mar 16 ABC News confirm Barbara Walters passed information from Iran arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar to RWR
Mar 18 Mar 28 Los Angeles Times claims Casey oversaw North in Iran arms dealing.

Apr 08

Apr 21 Senate Select Committee grants Poindexter immunity to force his testimony
Apr 27 Independent Council Walsh's law firm represented Southern Air Transport. SAT is under investigation by Walsh (Iran-Contra)
Apr 28 Walsh wants Congress to stop granting immunity.
Apr 29

May 02 NY Times reports North convinced China and Poland to sell to Contras at same time they gave to Sandinistas.
May 05
Joint hearings of Congressional Select Committees begin.

May 06 May 07 May 08 Secord suggests that fund in Swiss Account go to Casey Contra fund. Secord denies discussion with Poindexter, Casey, McFarlane about diversion of funds.
May 11 McFarlane claims North said plan approved
May 12 May 13 May 14 Johnathan Miller resigns (RWR deputy assistant administrator) as result of Owens testimony.
May 15
  1. RWR news conference:
  2. McFarlane testified RWR approved Perot's arms for hostages proposal.
  3. Fawn Hall testified before grand jury about her role in destroying documents as North's secretary.
  4. Owens testifies about activities with North and Miller.
May 17 May 19 May 20 May 21 Testimony today by Coors, Garwood, O'Boyle. Coors describes Casey directing him to North as Contra channel.
May 27 May 28 Tambs testifies. North told him to open southern front.
May 29 Fernandez testifies.

Jun 02 Abrams testimony - admit former testimony a mistake (did not inform congress he solicited money from Sultan of Brunei.)
Jun 03

Jun 04 House - Senate committee grants North limited immunity.
Jun 07 Hall questioned about documents she help destroy.
Jun 15 Federal judge sign limited immunity for North.
Jun 16 Jun 17 Jun 23 Robinette testifying Secord paid him for installing security system in North's home.
Jun 24 Jun 25 Testimony by Cooper.
Jun 30

Jul 07

Jul 08 North claims Meese took part in meetings.
Jul 09 North accepts role as scapegoat.
Jul 10 North claims Presidential finding 1985 was arm-for-hostage.
Jul 14
Jul 15 Jul 21 Ponidexter final day of testimony.
Jul 22 Shultz testifies today. First day of US-Kuwait protection agreement.
Jul 28 Meese testifies.
Jul 29 Report of human rights abuse by Contras.
Jul 30 Regan (Don) testifies.
Jul 31 Weinberger testifies.

Aug 02 Weinberger concludes testimony
Aug 05 RWR praise congress for new Contra aid.
Aug 07 RWR signed agreement with congress - no covert operations without informing congress.
Aug 12
RWR address to nation:

"Our original initiative got all tangled up in the sale of arms, and the sale of arms got tangled up with the hostages...I let my preoccupation with the hostages intrude into areas where it didn't belong."

Joint hearings held May 05 to Aug 15, 1987

Aug 20

Aug 31 Justice department filing challenge to constitutionality of special prosecutor

Sep 30 GAO report states S/LPD conducted "white propaganda operations" in effort to influence public opinion.

Nov 18 Congressional committees' report on Iran-Contra affair places blame on RWR for wrong doing of his aides.

Dec 16 Michael K. Deaver convicted on perjury counts resulting from lobbying activities. He was RWR's deputy chief of staff until May 1985.
Dec 22 Contra aid appropriation passed and signed for nonlethal aid.


Mar 11 McFarlane pleads guilty to four counts of withholding information from congress on Contras.
Mar 16 Poindexter, North, Secord and Hakim indicted on twenty-three counts. Some charges later dropped because administration refused to release documents.


Feb 21 North trial begins. Trial reveals numerous "quid pro quo" arrangements with numerous governments.

Mar 3 McFarlane receives two years probation, $20,000 fine and 200 hours community service.

May 4 North found guilty on three counts and not guilty on nine counts.

July 5 North sentenced to 1200 hours community service and $150,000 fine.

Nov 8 Secord plea bargains to one count and sentenced to two years' probation.
Nov 21 Hakim pleads guilty to one count and sentenced to two years' probation and fine of $5,000.
Nov 24 Fernandez case dismissed


Mar 5 Poindexter trail begins

Apr 7

Sep 18 Clines found guilty and only person in RWR administration to serve time. He is sentenced to 16 months and $40,000 fine.


May 28 Supreme Courts declines to review North's case.

July 9 Fiers pleads guilty to two misdemeanor counts

Sep 6 George indicted on ten counts.
Sep 16 Gesell dismisses North's case.

Oct 7 Abrams pleads guilty to misdemeanor charges and receives two years and 200 hours community service.
Oct 21 North begins book tour for "Under Fire: An American Story"

Nov 15 Poindexter conviction reversed
Nov 26 Clarridge indicted on seven counts


Jan 31 Fiers sentenced to one year probation and one hundred hours community service.

June 16 Weinberger indicted on five counts

July 13 George trial begins. Trial ends in mistrial.

Oct 19 Retrial of George begins.
Oct 30

Nov 3 Clinton defeats Bush.

Dec 7 Poindexter conviction overturned.
Dec 9 George retrial ends in conviction on two felony counts of lying to congress. First CIA official convicted while in office.
Dec 11 Re-indictment charges against Weinberger are dismissed.
Dec 24

Americans Held Hostage in Lebanon

David Dodge Frank Reiger Jeremy Levin William Buckley Benjamin F. Weir Peter Kilburn Lawrence M. Jenco Terry A. Anderson David P. Jacobsen Thomas Sutherland Frank H. Reed Joseph J. Cicippio Edward A. Tracy Alaan Steen Jesse J. Turner Robert Polhill Charles Glass