The Iran-Contra Time Line

+ 1979 to June 1987 +


1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

List of hostages - Back to the iran-contra contents


- Notice the masses of kidnappings, hijackings and other terrorist activities -



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



1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

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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


1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

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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

1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

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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

1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985

1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

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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

December 1983 Congress imposes cap of $24 million on Contra aid
Dec 8 Second Boland Amendment approved

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1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

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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

Oct 12 "Contra Manual" developed by CIA is made public

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.

1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985

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Jan 08 Rev. Lawrence Jenco kidnapped in Lebanon
Feb 11-12 Saudi King Fahd visits R. REAGAN. Agrees to pay 2 million per month in Contra Support.
Feb 13 Jeremy Levine escapes from kidnappers

Mar 11 Terry Anderson kidnapped in Beirut
May 01 President imposes economic sanctions on Nicaragua
May 28 David Jacobsen kidnapped in Beirut

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

  • TWA hostages released.
  • Iranian parliament leader Rafsanjani is credited with success of hostage release.
  • R. REAGAN make speech after hostage release that US gives no reward to terrorist.

June -July Taiwan gives aid to Contras
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 R. REAGAN 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 R. REAGAN'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 R. REAGAN 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 14 An additional 408 TOWs transferred to Iran. Iran pays Ghorbanifar for TOWs
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 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
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.

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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 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 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 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 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 R. REAGAN approves McFarlane's trip to Tehran.
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
Nov 6 R. REAGAN states that there is "no foundation" for arms sale claims
Nov 13 R. REAGAN 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. R. REAGAN denies Israel involved in shipment of arms. White House issues correction that there was third country involved.
Nov 20 Shultz informs R. REAGAN of misstatement at press conference
Nov 21

  • R. REAGAN authorizes Meese to begin inquiry in to arms sales
  • North and Fawn Hall shred documents
  • Casey and Poindexter before Intelligence Committees said US had disapproved Israel sale of arms and was unaware until day before that there had been sale.
  • Poindexter destroys December 5, 1985 retroactive Finding.

Nov 22

  • Diversion memo drafted April 4, 1986 discovered. Memo includes plan to divert $12 million from Iran arms sales to Contras. North is later fired as a result of this memo.
  • Casey and Poindexter have lunch for 2.5 hour
  • Meese meets Casey at Casey's house (6pm). Does not ask about diversion memo.

Nov 23 Meese interviews North (North conceals existence of "Enterprise". North shreds additional documents that night until 4:15 A