First Advisor

Laura Robson

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in History and University Honors




Iran-Contra Affair (1985-1990) -- History, Iran -- Foreign relations -- Israel, Israel -- Foreign relations -- Iran




In the global political scandal that became known as the Iran-Contra Affair, various American diplomats were caught secretly and illegally selling weapons to Iran and using those funds to support anti-communist militias in Nicaragua. This affair has largely been treated as an American domestic political scandal that was uncovered in the mid-1980s and then solved by the Congressional hearings of 1987. This perspective not only ignores the military and political ramifications of the affair in Nicaragua and Iran, but also omits one of the most important actors in this international arms trade: Israel.

The historical literature concerning Israel’s role in the Iran-Contra affair is minimal. On the surface, the lack of material written on the Israeli contribution to Iran-Contra suggests that it was only a minor middleman. However, in examining the history of Israel’s international arms dealing, it becomes apparent that Israel played a significant role in Iran-Contra. Israel was not an American puppet but a primary source of agency.

Israel’s role as an arms salesman dates back to the 1950s in Iran and the 1930s in Nicaragua; its investments in Central America and Iran were just as significant as American investments; and in many instances, the United States based their policies on a precedent that Israel had already set. Israeli agency was crucial in moulding and creating the circumstances under which the Iran-Contra Affair emerged.


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