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"Big Strong President Reagan" Encourages Sale of Weapons to Iran

The first attempt to sell weapons to Iran through Israeli middlemen failed. Reagan then convened a group of advisors, including Secretary of State George Shultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Both Shultz and Weinberger, as well as White House Chief of Staff Don Regan, objected to selling weapons directly to Iran, which the U.S. had declared a state sponsor of terrorism. As Weinberger’s diary reveals, Reagan pushed for the sales anyway, even if they were illegal.

December 7 


Met with President, Shultz, Don Regan, John McMahon, Mc F Farlane, John Poindexter – in a upstairs residence of WH (end of corridor sitting room) – re NSC Iran proposal — President wants to free hostages — thinks a Hawks and TOWs would only go to “Moderate Elements in Army” + would help overthrow Iranian gov’t. I argued strongly that we have an Embargo that Makes Arms Sales to Iran illegal + President couldn’t violate it + that “washing” transaction thru Israel wouldn’t’ make it legal — Shultz, Don Regan agreed. President sd. he could answer charges of illegality but he couldn’t answer charge that “big strong President Reagan passed up a chance to free hostages”. Preside President left to do his noon radio

Source | Caspar W. Weinberger, Diary Entry for 7 December 1985, (Washington, DC: National Archives); available from The National Secruity Archive, The Iran-Contra Affair 20 Years On,
Creator | Caspar W. Weinberger
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | Caspar W. Weinberger, “"Big Strong President Reagan" Encourages Sale of Weapons to Iran,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 26, 2021,

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