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Nicaragua & the Iran-Contra Affair


Questioning of Oliver North

The Iran-Contra Affair was a political scandal that rocked the Reagan administration in 1986 over the US involvement with sales of weapons to Iran (via Israel) which would help fund the Contra army in Nicaragua. At the time, there was an arms embargo against Iran and Lebanon was holding US hostages. Senior officials in the Reagan administration thought that they could accomplish several goals through the sale of weapons:
  1. Arm a group that had the potential to overthrow the Ayatollah and be an ally once in power
  2. Provide Israel with an ally in the Middle East 
  3. Obtain the release of US hostages being held by Hezbollah in Lebanon
  4. Obtain monies to fund the anti-Sandinista and anti-Communist army (Contras) in Nicaragua
The scandal had far reaching consequences for administration officials in the US and for participants in other countries. Militant groups now knew that the US would negotiate for hostages, making the risk of taking hostages more appealing.