How a scandal developed

 

The following account is based on published accounts of events related to the Iran arms deal:

JAN.-FEB. 1984 -- President Reagan's national security adviser Robert McFarlane authorizes National Security Council aide Oliver North to begin planning ways to funnel private aid to anti-Sandinista contra rebels in case Congress cuts off official U.S. help to the rebels.

MARCH 16, 1984 -- CIA station chief William Buckley is kidnapped in Beirut. Soon after, National Security Council aide Oliver North asks Texas millionaire H. Ross Perot to provide $1 million or $2 million as ransom for Buckley. Ransom efforts fail.

OCT. 12, 1984 -- Congress prohibits U.S. aid to contras. North maintains contacts with rebels through intermediaries.

MARCH 1985 -- Reagan appeals to Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres for help in getting Buckley back. Peres contacts an old friend, Al Schwimmer, an arms merchant and founder of government-owned Israeli Aircraft Industries, who suggests an "arms-for-Buckley" deal. Discussions begin between the U.S. and Iran, with the Israelis acting as intermediaries.

AUG. 1985 -- Israeli defense minister refuses to allow Israel to ship weapons to Iran without written authorization from the United States. McFarlane, after consulting with Reagan, provides the assurance.

SEPT. 1985 -- Israel ships 500 TOW missiles to Iran, for which Iran pays $5 million. On Sept. 19, hostage Benjamin Weir is released.

OCT. 14, 1985 -- Islamic Jihad announces that Buckley is dead. U.S. officials now think Buckley had died sometime during the summer.

NOV. 1985 -- Israelis ship Iranians 18 batteries of older U.S. Hawk anti-aircraft missiles. The Iranians are incensed; they had asked for 80 batteries of newer Improved Hawks. CIA Director William Casey orders the CIA to help ship the weapons after Portugal blocks the shipment.

DEC. 4, 1985 -- McFarlane resigns as Reagan's national security adviser. He is replaced in January by Vice Adm. John Poindexter.

JAN. 17, 1986 -- Reagan signs intelligence "finding" authorizing shipments of arms to Iran.

EARLY 1986 -- Crews of civilian Americans begin airlifting supplies to contras inside Nicaragua from El Salvador's Ilopango Air Field.

MAY 28, 1986 -- McFarlane and North secretly visit Tehran; during trip North tells McFarlane of diversion of Iranian funds to contras. McFarlane later says he assumed North's superiors knew of diversion.

JULY 3-4, 1986 -- More arms are shipped to Iran.

JULY 26, 1986 -- The Rev. Lawrence Jenco is freed in Beirut.

OCT. 5, 1986 -- A C-123 transport plane is shot down over Nicaragua. A captured crewman, Eugene Hasenfus, tells Sandinista officials details of the supply flights from Ilopango, but says he does not know how they are funded. U.S. denies involvement in the operation. The operation ends.

NOV. 2, 1986 -- Hostage David Jacobsen is released in Lebanon, apparently after more weapons shipments.

NOV. 3, 1986 -- Lebanese magazine discloses that United States has sent spare parts and ammunition for fighters and tanks to Iran.

NOV. 13, 1986 -- Reagan addresses nation, denies "ransom paid" for hostages.

NOV. 25, 1986 -- Meese announces that Iranian arms profits were channeled to contras; Poindexter quits and North is fired.

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