Cold War Timeline of Significant Events
Submitted by Chad Manske, Brig Gen, USAF, Ret.


May 7: German military leaders surrender unconditionally to Eisenhower at Rheims, France.
July 3: Berlin:  Allied troops complete occupation of Berlin.
July 16: Atomic bomb:  United States explodes first atomic bomb at Alamogordo, New Mexico, in a test code-named TRINITY.
August 6: Atomic bomb:  United States drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
August 9: Atomic bomb:  United States drops second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
August 14: Japan surrenders.
August 26: Korea:  United States announces its intention to occupy Japanese-held Korea south of the 38th parallel; Soviet Union to occupy the north.
September 2: Vietnam:  Ho Chi Minh's troops seize power in Hanoi and proclaim an independent Vietnam.
September 22: Vietnam:  French forces return to Vietnam.
November 5: Hungarian election:  Communist party wins only 17 percent of the vote. Stalin moves to eradicate opposition and consolidate the Soviet position in Hungary.
November 29: Yugoslavia becomes a federated republic under Marshal Tito.
1945-1946 Iran:  America and Great Britain withdraw their troops from Iran, but the Soviet Union does not.


February 28: Russia policy:  Secretary of State James F. Byrnes introduces new "get tough with Russia" policy at Overseas Press Club, New York.
March 5: Iron curtain:  Winston Churchill, in a speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, says an "iron curtain" has come down across Europe.
March 21: SAC:  Strategic Air Command, Tactical Air Command, and Air Defense Command are created within the Army Air Forces.
June 14: Baruch Plan: Bernard Baruch presents Truman's international atomic energy control plan to U.N. Plan would place fissionable materials under control of a U.N. agency equipped with inspection powers and exempt from the great-power (Security Council) veto. Soviet Union objects to American domination of any U.N. agency and is unwilling to surrender their veto or accept inspection within the Soviet Union.
June 30: Poland:  National referendum approves Communist reforms.
July 1: Bikini Tests:  Atomic bomb tests, using the Nagasaki-type implosion bomb, held at
Bikini Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands.
August 1: Atomic Energy Act enacted.
December 20: Vietnam:  Viet Minh forces clash with French forces in beginning of 8-year French Indochina war.




March 12: Truman Doctrine:  Truman asks Congress to support "free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures." Congress grants $400 million in aid to Greece and Turkey to defend against Communist guerrillas.
May 31: Hungary is taken over by Communist government.
June 5: Marshall Plan:  Secretary of State George C. Marshall calls on European nations to draft plan for European economic recovery, offering aid in planning and "later support." Eastern Europe walks out of initial Paris meeting at Soviet behest. The following March, Congress votes to fund the Marshall Plan to aid 16 European nations.
July: Containment Policy:  George F. Kennan, writing anonymously in Foreign Affairs, articulates America's policy to block peacefully the expansion of Soviet political and economic influence into vulnerable areas around the world.
July 26: National Security Act creates DoD, and several new agencies, including the National Military Establishment with three separate departments of the Army, the Navy and the new U.S. Air Force, National Security Council (NSC), CIA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
October 29: Israel: The U.N. authorizes the creation of the State of Israel.
December 30: Eastern Europe:  Rumania's monarchy is replaced by a Communist regime.


February 25: Czechoslovakia:  Communist Coup.
March 17:  Brussels Treaty signed by Belgium, Britain, France, Holland, and Luxembourg created a Atlantic regional mutual-defense treaty, in part a response to the Czechoslovakian crisis.
April 1: Berlin Blockade:  The Soviet Union blockades all highway, river, and rail traffic into Western-controlled West Berlin to force the Western powers out of Berlin. The West responds to the Berlin blockade by airlifting supplies to West Berlin beginning June 21 and counter-blockading East Germany. The Soviet blockade ends after 321 days.
May 14: Israel declares independence.  Five Arab states invade Israel, marking the start of the first Arab-Israeli war.
July 26: Truman, issues Executive Order desegregating the armed forces.
August 3: Whitaker Chambers accuses Alger Hiss of having been a key member of the Communist underground in Washington.
August 15: Republic of South Korea is founded.
September 9: the Korean People's Democratic Republic is founded.


January 29: Foreign aid policy announced by Truman.
April 4: NATO established:  Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy,
Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United States. Later joined by Greece, Spain, Turkey, and West Germany. In 1955 Soviet Union forms competing Warsaw Pact.
May 12: Berlin blockade ends.
September 21: German Federal Republic established as Allied High Commission relinquishes control of the administration of the American, British, and French occupation zones.
September 23: Truman announces that the Soviet Union exploded an atomic bomb sometime during the latter half of August.
October 1: People's Republic of China is established.
December 7:  The Chinese Nationalist government retires to Taipei, Taiwan.


January 21: Alger Hiss convicted of perjury.
January 31: Truman approves the development of the hydrogen bomb.
February 7: The State of Vietnam and the Kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia are formally recognized by United States.
February 9: McCarthyism:  Senator Joseph P. McCarthy delivers speech to Republican Women's Club of Ohio County, Wheeling, West Virginia, in which he claims to have a list of "known" Communists "making policy" in the Department of State.
February 15: Sino-Soviet Pact creates a bilateral defense commitment, settles historic territorial issues between China and the Soviet Union, and initiates modest program of Soviet aid to China.
April: NSC 68 Reappraisal of America's strategic position by the NSC. The definition for the Cold War shifted from political to military, postulating a Soviet "design for world domination." NSC 68 called for both a build-up of nuclear weapons and for enlarged capacity to fight conventional wars whenever the Russians threatened "piecemeal aggression."It also called for a reduction of social welfare programs and other services not related to military needs and for tighter internal security programs.
May 9: Indochina:  Truman announces U.S. military aid to French in Indochina.
June 25: Korean War:  North Korean troops cross the 38th parallel in a surprise invasion of South Korea.
September 23: Congress passes McCarran Internal Security Act to monitor domestic Communist activities.
October 19: Korea:  Chinese units cross the Yalu River into Korea.
December 23: Vietnam:  United States signs a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with Vietnam.


May 27: Tibet ends resistance to Chinese takeover.
September 8: Peace treaty with Japan is signed. United States retains military presence for defense of Japan. United States also negotiates mutual security agreement with Philippines, Australia, New Zealand (ANZUS Pact).


January 16: Soviet Union restricts mobility of all foreign diplomats in Moscow to a 25-mile radius.
January 31: Truman denounces McCarthy for "anti-Communist tactics."
June 14: Truman lays keel of U.S.S. Nautilus, first nuclear submarine.
September: McCarran-Walter Act (Immigration and Nationality Act) passed abolishing Asian-exclusion provisions of 1924 but retaining national-origins quota system and establishing ideology as criteria for exclusion of foreigners.
November 1: Hydrogen bomb is exploded by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) at Enewetok, Marshall Islands.
November 4: Eisenhower elected president.


March 5: Josef Stalin dies.
July 27: Armistice is signed ending the Korean War.  Korea remains divided at the 38th parallel, creating the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone).
August 1: U.S. Information Agency (USIA) is established.
August 14: Soviet Union explodes a hydrogen bomb.
August 16: Shah of Iran flees Iran.
August 22: U.S.-backed coup d'etat overthrows Mossadegh and restores Shah of Iran.


May 1: Soviet Union unveils M-4 its first jet-engine propelled long-range bomber.
May 8: Fall of Dienbienphu:  The French army is defeated in Vietnam.
May 30: First operational NIKE Ajax missiles deployed at Fort Meade, Maryland.
June 28: U.S.-backed coup d'etat overthrows Arbenz Government in Guatemala, installs military regime, and restores previously nationalized United Fruit Company property.
July 17-28: Geneva Accords end French colonialism in Indochina; Vietnam divided at the 17th parallel.
August 24: Communist Party outlawed in United States as Eisenhower signs Communist Control Act.
September 7: SEATO: Australia, Britain, France, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, New Zealand, and the United States form an anti-communist alliance against "massive military aggression."
October 23: West Germany is invited to join NATO and becomes a member on May 5, 1955.
December 2: Senate condemns McCarthy, ending the McCarthy era.


May 14: Warsaw Pact signed, calling for the mutual defense of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, and the Soviet Union.
June 15: Civil Defense:  United States stages first nationwide civil defense exercise.
June 29: B-52 intercontinental bomber deployment begins in the United States.
July: Fear of a "Bomber Gap" ensues after Soviets fly Bear and Bison long-range bombers multiple times past American visitors at an air show, causing an exaggerated assessment of Soviet inventories.
July 18: Geneva Summit Conference:  Eisenhower, Khrushchev, and Eden discuss disarmament and European security. Eisenhower proposes "Open Skies," which would allow aerial reconnaissance of each other's territories.
July 29: United States intention to launch satellite in 1957 or 1958 announced by Eisenhower.
November 19:  Baghdad Pact signed by Great Britain, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. The United States pledges military and political liaison.


February 14: Khrushchev denounces Stalin in speech to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
July 26: Nasser nationalizes Suez Canal.
October 29-31: Britain, France, and Israel attack Egypt.
October 23-November 4: Hungarians revolt against Communist rule and make futile pleas for U.S. assistance as Soviet forces crush the resistance.
November 6: Eisenhower reelected.
November 17: "We will bury you" statement made by Khrushchev to Western diplomats.
December 22: Cease-fire in Suez crisis.


January 5: Eisenhower Doctrine presented to Congress, allowing the President to commit troops to the Middle East to prevent Communist aggression there.
March 25: Common Market:  Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany agree to form the European Economic Community (EEC).
August 26: ICBM:  Moscow announces its first successful ICBM test.
September 19: First underground nuclear test takes place in a mountain tunnel near Las Vegas.
October 4: Soviet Union launches Sputnik, first satellite to orbit Earth.
November 3: Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2, which carries the first living creature (a dog) into space.
December 17: ICBM:  First successful test of Atlas ICBM.
December 18: First large-scale nuclear power plant starts up at Shippensport, Pennsylvania, supplying electricity to Pittsburgh area.
December: Gaither Report to the NSC states Soviet Union has achieved superiority in long-range ballistic missiles leading to fears of a "missile gap."


January 31: First U.S. satellite, Explorer I, is launched into orbit.
March 27: Khrushchev becomes Soviet Premier in addition to being First Secretary of the Communist Party.
March 30: Soviet Union suspends atmospheric nuclear testing.
June 30: First Nike-Hercules missile, with increased range capabilities, declared operational in United States.
October 1: NASA is formally established.
October: United States and Britain suspend atmospheric testing.
November: Khrushchev delivers ultimatum:  Begin East-West talks over the future of Germany (a reunified, neutral, denuclearized Germany) or face the permanent division of Germany; Khrushchev soon backs down.


January 1: Cuban Revolution; Fidel Castro becomes premier of Cuba on January 6.
July 24: Nixon visits the Soviet Union, takes on Khrushchev in the "kitchen debate" on the merits of capitalism vs. communism.
September 9: Atlas ICBM becomes operational.
September 13: Soviet spacecraft reaches the moon and crashes there.
September 15: Khrushchev visits United States, meets Eisenhower at Camp David, agrees to summit meeting in Paris, May 16, 1960.
December 1: Antarctica Treaty signed in Washington; 12 nations agree to reserve Antarctica for scientific research, free from political and military uses.


March: Cuban exiles:  Eisenhower agrees to CIA proposal to train Cuban exiles to subvert Castro regime.
May 1: U-2 reconnaissance plane shot down over central U.S.S.R. Pilot Gary Powers is held by the Soviet Union. Incident is announced by Khrushchev on May 5.
May 16: East-West summit conference in Paris collapses over U-2 incident.
May 24: United States launches Midas II satellite for military reconnaissance purposes.
July 20: United States fires first ballistic missile from a submerged submarine off Cape Canaveral.
August 19: U-2 pilot Gary Powers sentenced by the U.S.S.R. to ten years in prison; he is exchanged for a Soviet spy in 1961.
November 8: Kennedy elected president.
December 20: Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Republic of Vietnam, organizes the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF). Ho commits the NLF to the overthrow of the U.S.-supported Ngo Dinh Diem regime, the ouster of U.S. advisers, and the unification of Vietnam.


January 3: Cuba:  Eisenhower Administration breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba.
January 17: Eisenhower's farewell address warns of potential "unwarranted influence ... by the military-industrial complex."
January 20: John F. Kennedy inaugurated.
February 1: BMEWS:  Ballistic missile early warning system becomes operational.
March 13: Alliance for Progress, a 10-year plan of economic aid to Latin American is proposed by Kennedy.
April 12: Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin is the first man to orbit the Earth.
April 17: Bay of Pigs landing by more than 1,000 CIA-trained Cuban refugees fails in its attempt to "liberate" Cuba.
May 5: First American in space, Alan B. Shepard, makes suborbital flight aboard a Mercury capsule.
May 11: Kennedy authorizes American advisors to aid South Vietnam, against the forces of North Vietnam.
May 25: Kennedy pledges to put man on the moon before decade ends.
June 3: Vienna Summit:  Khrushchev reissues ultimatum to begin talks on Germany within 6 months or face a permanent the division of Germany. Kennedy responds with call for military build-up, beginning of civil defense program.
August 13: East Germany closes the Brandenburg Gate, sealing the border between East and West Berlin in preparation for building the Berlin Wall.
September 1: Soviet Union resumes atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
September 15: United States resumes underground testing of nuclear weapons.


January 29: East-West Conference on Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests, begun in October 1958, collapses in deadlock at Geneva.
February 20: John Glenn is first American to orbit the Earth.
April 25: United States resumes atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
October: Minuteman I becomes operational; ICBMs deployed in silos for blast protection. 
October 23: Cuban Missile Crisis United States establishes air and sea blockade of Cuba in response to photographs of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba. United States threatens to invade Cuba if the bases are not dismantled and warns that a nuclear attack launched from Cuba would be considered a Soviet attack requiring full retaliation.
October 28: Khrushchev agrees to remove offensive weapons from Cuba and the United States agrees to remove missiles from Turkey and end Cuban-exile incursions.
November 21:  United States ends Cuban blockade, satisfied that all bases are removed and Soviet jets will leave the island by December 20.


June 26: Kennedy visits Berlin, declares "Ich bin ein Berliner."
June 10: Kennedy, in speech at American University, calls for reconsideration of Cold War as "holy war."
June 20: "Hot Line" established, a direct teletype link between the White House and the Kremlin, to start service August 30.
July 24: Cuba seizes the U.S. embassy in Havana.
October 7: Kennedy signs Limited Test Ban Treaty Britain, Soviet Union, and United States agree to outlaw tests in the atmosphere, under water, and in outer space.
October 11: Kennedy endorses his Commission on the Status of Women's report on gender discrimination.
November 1: South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem is assassinated.
November 22: President Kennedy is assassinated.


January 8: Lyndon Johnson calls for War on Poverty and greater efforts on civil rights in his first State of the Union Address.
February 2: U.S. Ranger VI lands on the Moon.
July 2: Johnson signs Civil Rights Act of 1964.
July 18: Riots break out in urban ghettoes of New York City and Rochester, the first of the series of African-American riots.
August 2: Johnson orders immediate retaliation for the attack on U.S. destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy in the Gulf of Tonkin, allegedly by the North Vietnamese.
August 7: Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin Resolution giving the President power to take "all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States, and to prevent further aggression."
September 27: Warren Commission report is released.
October 15: Khrushchev is ousted, replaced by Brezhnev and Kosygin.
October 16: China detonates its first atomic bomb.
November 3: Lyndon B. Johnson elected President.


March 8: Vietnam:  First U.S. Marines in Vietnam wade ashore at Da Nang.
May 2: Johnson sends troops to the Dominican Republic to "prevent another Communist state in this hemisphere."
November: Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, the first major clash between the United States and North Vietnamese Army.
December 24: Vietnam:  U.S. forces number 184,300 in Vietnam.


January: ICBM, Minuteman II, with improved accuracy, enters service.
February: Vietnam:  Senate hearings on the Vietnam War chaired by Senator Fulbright begin.
March 16: 10,000 Buddhists march in Saigon protesting U.S. support for corrupt Ky regime. 
March 25: Anti-Vietnam War rallies staged in seven United States and European cities.
April 30: Chinese Cultural Revolution begins with Zhou En-lai's call for anti-bourgeois struggle.
June 2:  Surveyor I makes perfect soft landing on moon.
December: Vietnam:  U.S. forces number 362,000 in Vietnam.


January 27: Outer Space Treaty limits military uses of space, signed by the United States, U.S.S.R. and 60 other nations.
February 14: Treaty of Tlatelolco, signed in Mexico by all Latin American states except Cuba, prohibits the introduction or manufacture of nuclear weapons.
June 5: Six-Day, Arab-Israeli War begins.
June 17: China explodes its first hydrogen bomb.
October 18: Soviet Venus IV probe lands on Venus.
December: Vietnam:  U.S. forces number 485,000 in Vietnam.


January: Prague Spring reforms led by Alexander Dubcek in Czechoslovakia to bring about "socialism with a human face."
January 30: Tet Offensive, attacks on South Vietnamese cities by North Vietnamese and NLF troops.
March: Vietnam:  Siege at Khe Sanh ends.
March 16: My Lai massacre in Vietnam.
March 31: Johnson withdraws from presidential contest.
April 4: Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated.
June 5: Robert F. Kennedy assassinated.
July 1: Nuclear Arms Nonproliferation Treaty signed by the United States, U.S.S.R. and 58 other nations.
August 20: Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia ends Dub6ek experiment.
October 31: Johnson halts bombing of North Vietnam, invites South Vietnam and the Viet Cong to Paris peace talks.
November 5: Nixon elected president.
December: Vietnam:  U.S. forces number 535,000 in Vietnam.


March: United States bombing of Cambodia begins.
June 8: Nixon Doctrine and " Vietnamization " begins.  Nixon orders first troops out of Vietnam. U.S. forces number 475,200.
July: Nixon Doctrine:  Nixon reaffirms U.S. commitment to defend its allies, but calls on Third World nations to assume primary responsibility for their security.
July 20: Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin land on the Moon.
September 1: Muammar Khadaffi comes to power after coup in Libya.
September 3: Ho Chi Minh, Communist leader of North Vietnam, dies.
November 15: March on Washington draws record 250,000 anti-war protesters.
November 17: Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) begin between the United States and U.S.S.R.


February: Paris Peace Talks begin between Kissinger and Le Duc Tho.
March 5: Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons between the United States and the Soviet Union, goes into effect, preventing transfer of nuclear weapons to non- nuclear nations or production of nuclear weapons in those nations.
April 29: U.S. troops invade Cambodia.
May 4: Four Kent State University students killed by National Guardsmen while protesting Vietnam War.
May 15: Two Jackson State College students killed by police while protesting Vietnam War.
August: Minuteman III ICBM with multiple warhead capacity enters service in United States.
September 15: Nixon authorizes U.S.-backed coup in Chile, according to a 1975 Senate Intelligence Committee report.
December: Vietnam:  U.S. forces number 334,600 in Vietnam.


February 15: Pentagon Papers:  New York Times begins serial publication of the Pentagon Papers.
November 15: The People's Republic of China joins the U.N.


February 17-27: Nixon visits China, pledges to withdraw U.S. forces from Taiwan.
May 8: Vietnam:  Nixon orders the mining of Haiphong Harbor and intensive bombing of all military targets in North Vietnam.
May 26: SALT I agreement signed restricting development of ABMs and freezing numbers of ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) in place for 5 years.
May 29: Nixon and Brezhnev sign agreement on the "basic principles of detente" which produces a relaxation on the tensions, recognizes the Soviet Union as the military-political policeman of Eastern Europe, and opens economic markets between the two countries.
June 17: Watergate burglary.
August 12: U.S. bombers deliver largest 24-hour bombing of the Vietnam War on North Vietnam.
October: Moscow Summit between Nixon and Brezhnev.
November 7: Nixon reelected.
December7:  Apollo 17 makes final manned lunar landing.
December 13: Paris Peace Talks break down.
December 17-30: Linebacker II bombing of Hanoi and North Vietnam.
December: Nixon orders renewed bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, North Vietnam.


January 23: Nixon announces Vietnam War will end on January 28 and troops will be removed within 60 days.
January 27: Paris Accords establish cease-fire and political settlement of Vietnam War.
March 29: Military Assistance Command Vietnam closes, last U.S. soldiers leave.
May 11: East and West Germany establish formal diplomatic relations.
August 15: U.S. bombing of Cambodia ends.
September 11: Chilean Government of Salvador Allende overthrown in a violent coup d’état. Allende dies.
October 6: Yom Kippur War begins between Egypt, Israel, and Syria.
October 17: Arab oil producers begin embargo against the United States.
November 6: War Powers Act passed by Congress limits power of President to wage undeclared wars.


March 1: Indictment returned against seven former presidential aides in the Watergate conspiracy. Nixon named as unindicted co-conspirator.
March 18: Arab oil embargo ends.
May 9: Impeachment:  House Judiciary Committee opens Presidential impeachment hearings.
May 18: Nuclear test:  India announces it has set off an underground nuclear test.
July 27: House Judiciary Committee votes to recommend Nixon's impeachment.
August 8: Nixon announces his resignation.
August 9: Gerald Ford sworn in as 38th President.


April: ABM:  United States deploys Safeguard, an ABM system at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota.
April 12: United States ends official presence in Cambodia as Marines evacuate diplomats in wake of Khmer Rouge victory.
April 30: Saigon falls to North Vietnamese troops as Americans evacuate.
May 14:  Mayaguez incident:  Ford orders rescue of cargo ship captured by Cambodian Khmer Rouge.
July 17: U.S.-Soviet astronauts in Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft link up in space.
July: CSCE Helsinki Accords signed, pledging the United States and Soviet Union to accept European borders, protect human rights, and promote freer transnational trade and cultural exchanges.
September 5: Attempt to assassinate Ford by Lynette Fromme.
September 22: Attempt to assassinate Ford by Sara Jane Moore.
December 21: Palestinian terrorists raid OPEC meeting in Vienna, killing three.


May 28: United States and Soviet Union sign peaceful nuclear explosions treaty limiting size and nature of underground nuclear tests.
July 2: Socialist Republic of Vietnam is proclaimed.
July 20:  Viking I robot spacecraft lands successfully on Mars.
September 9: Mao Tse-tung dies, setting off succession struggle in China.
November 2: Jimmy Carter elected President.


February 24: Human rights:  Carter announces linkage of foreign aid to human rights.
July 18: Vietnam admitted to U.N.
August 10: United States and Panama agree to transfer Panama Canal to Panamanian control by year 2000.


May 30: Carter recommends to NATO to modernize and increase alliance's military forces. Signals end of detente.
September 17: Camp David Accords signed between Egypt and Israel, with Carter's assistance, detailing a framework for ending 30 years of war between Israel and Egypt in exchange for Israel's return of Sinai to Egypt.
December 15: United States and China announce restoration of full diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979.


January 16: Shah of Iran flees Iran and Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile to establish fundamentalist Shiite government in Iran on February 26.
March 25: Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt sign Camp David Peace Treaty in White House ceremony.
March 28: Three Mile Island nuclear power plant suffers serious nuclear accident.
June 18: Salt II agreement to limit long-range missiles and bombers signed by Carter and Brezhnev.
July: Nicaraguan Revolution, leftist Sandinista forces overthrow Somoza dictatorship. 
October 15: Civil war breaks out in El Salvador.
November 4: Iranian militants seize U.S. Embassy in Teheran, take 63 Americans hostage, demanding return of Shah of Iran, then in United States for medical treatment.
December 4: Military build-up:  Carter calls for a major military build-up to counter Soviet military power.
December 20: Red Army enters Afghanistan and U.S. sanctions against the U.S.S.R., in reaction to its invasion of Afghanistan, include a grain embargo, decreased scientific and cultural exchanges, boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, and failure to ratify SALT II.
December: NATO announces "Dual-Track" deployment of intermediate-range nuclear forces
(INF) in Europe to counter Warsaw Pact SS-20 missiles.


January: Carter Doctrine calls Persian Gulf a U.S. "vital interest."
April 24: U.S. military fails in attempt to rescue Iranian hostages; eight servicemen die in crash.
July: Carter signs Presidential Directive 59 calling for capacity to wage limited and protracted nuclear war.
September 22: Solidarity union formed in Poland under leadership of Lech Walesa.
November 4: Ronald Reagan elected President.


January 20: Reagan inaugurated as Iranians release hostages.
January 26: Walesa leads Polish workers in illegal strike for 5-day workweek.
April 12: Space shuttle Columbia makes maiden voyage, landing with wheels rather than splashing down.
October 6: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat assassinated.
November: Protest over NATO INF deployment draws 400,000 in Amsterdam.
November 18: Diplomacy:  Reagan proposes significant reductions in strategic forces, called the "zero option," which would eliminate an entire class of nuclear missiles.
December 13: Martial law imposed in Poland.


April 2: Falkland War: Britain begins 74-day battle with Argentina for control of Falkland Islands.
May 9: Reagan outlines U.S. Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) proposal, to reduce ICBMs and arrive at verifiable agreement to reduce risk of war and number of strategic nuclear weapons on both sides.
June 12: New York march against nuclear arms attracts 800,000 protestors.
June 29: START negotiations open in Geneva.


March 23: Reagan proposes SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars) to develop technology to intercept enemy missiles.
April 6: Scowcroft Commission Report calls for modernizing U.S. strategic weapons, undertaking negotiations leading to balanced arms control agreements with meaningful, verifiable reductions.
May 24: Congress authorizes MX missile procurement and development.
July 21: Poland lifts martial law.
August 21: Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino is assassinated as he returns to Manila from self-imposed exile.
September 1: Korean Air Flight 007 shot down by Soviet jet fighter in Soviet airspace. All 269 aboard are killed.
October 23: Terrorist attack on U.S. Marine headquarters in Beirut,Lebanon, kills 241.
October 25: United States invades Grenada.
November 22: INF:  United States begins deployment of INF missiles (Pershing II) in West Germany after protracted political fight.
December 28: United States withdraws from UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), charging mismanagement and political bias.
December: Soviet Union suspends START talks.


February 7: American Marines withdraw from Lebanon.
September 20: U.S. Embassy in Beirut bombed, killing 12.
September 24: Reagan proposes to U.N. General Assembly a broad "umbrella" framework for U.S.-U.S.S.R. arms talks.
November 6: Reagan reelected in greatest Republican landslide (49 states) ever.
November 22: United States, U.S.S.R. agree to new negotiations on nuclear and space issues.


March 13: Mikhail Gorbachev succeeds Chernenko as Soviet General Secretary.
March 12: Nuclear and Space Talks (NST) open in Geneva, based on START proposals of 1983.
September 9: Reagan announces economic sanctions against South Africa.
September 30: Soviet Union presents START proposal, which accepts for the first time the principle of deep reductions in strategic offensive forces.
November 1: United States counters with new START proposal.
November 21: Geneva Summit:  Reagan and Gorbachev issue joint statement on cooperation in arms reductions with goal of 50 percent reductions of nuclear arms.


January 15: Gorbachev proposes eliminating all nuclear weapons over next 15 years, contingent on United States backing off SDI. Reagan applauds proposal, but won't change position on SDI and supports principle of 50 percent reduction as agreed to in 1985.
January 28: Space shuttle Challenger accident kills all aboard.
April 11: United States launches air strike against Libya in retaliation for Libyan terrorist acts.
April 26: Explosion and fire at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union spreads radiation over large area.
October 11-12: Reykjavik Summit:  Gorbachev-Reagan arms talks stall over Reagan's refusal to limit SDI research and testing to the laboratory although agreement is reached on other details.
November 4: First press revelations of the Iran-Contra scandal, in which Reagan Administration sold arms to Iran and used the proceeds to finance Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
December 22: Peacekeeper ICBM becomes operational.


January 1: Gorbachev addresses Soviet citizens on arms race and threat of war.  Reagan addresses the Soviet people via Voice of America saying that the United States and Soviet Union are "closer now than ever before ... to agreement to reduce nuclear arsenals and have taken major steps toward permanent peace."
May 5: Last Titan ICBM Wing removed from alert status as the MX Peacekeeper enters operation.
August 26: West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl states Germany will destroy its Pershing missiles if United States and U.S.S.R. agree to destroy intermediate-range nuclear missiles.
September 15: Nuclear Risk Reduction Center Agreement signed by the United States and the Soviet Union to promote communication and confidence building measures.
December 7-10: Washington Summit Meeting Reagan and Gorbachev sign a treaty eliminating INF and agree to work toward completing START agreement, if possible for Moscow meeting in first half of 1988.


January 14: NST resumes in Geneva with the United States and U.S.S.R. working on a joint draft START treaty.
March 15: Oliver North, former National Security Advisor John M. Poindexter, and Iranian-American arms dealer Albert Hakim are indicted on charges of diverting Iranian arms sales proceeds to Nicaraguan Contras.
April 15: Soviet Union agrees to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by February 15, 1989, after seven years of peace talks.
May 29-June 1: Moscow Summit:  Reagan and Gorbachev reiterate their commitment to concluding the START treaty.
June 28: Gorbachev tells Communist Party leaders that key elements of Communist doctrine are outdated; defends his proposals for change. Party attempts to relax its grip on Soviet society in order to advance Gorbachev's Glasnost policies.
July 3: U.S.S. Vincennes shoots down Iran Air commercial flight, killing 290, after mistaking plane for Iranian F-14 fighter.
August 16: Pro-Solidarity strikes take place in Poland. Demonstrators demand that government grant legal status to the union.
August: War in Angola ends, Cubans withdraw from Angola, South Africa from Namibia. 
September 29: Shuttle Discovery launched successfully, the first shuttle flight since the Challenger disaster.
November 8: George Bush elected President.


April 5: Poland agrees to legalize Solidarity union.
April 17: "Pro-democracy" demonstrations begin in Beijing.
May: Gorbachev visits Beijing to normalize relations with China.
June 3-4: Chinese army assaults students in Tienanmen Square. Many hundreds of students are killed.
September 22-23: Reciprocal Advance Notice of Major Strategic Exercises Agreement signed as part of the Wyoming Ministerial by the United States and U.S.S.R. to prevent inadvertent conflict arising from provocative military exercises.
September-December: Eastern European nations leave Soviet Bloc; renounce ties to Moscow.
November 9: Berlin Wall is opened as hundreds of thousands of East Germans stream into West Berlin to visit without restrictions.
November 10: Bulgarian President Todor Zhikov resigns after 35 years of hard-line Communist power.
December 2-3: Malta Summit: Bush proposes an acceleration in START negotiations.
December 20: United States invades Panama.
December 22: Rumanian President Ceausescu is overthrown by the army; three days later he and his wife are executed.


February 26: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega concedes defeat for his Sandinista Front in popular elections, ending one-party Marxist rule of Nicaragua.
March 18: East German voters opt for German reunification and market-based economy.
May 2: South African Government and African National Congress hold first talks in Cape Town on ending white minority rule.
May 30-June 3: Washington, DC, Summit between Bush and Gorbachev.
July 24: SAC takes National Emergency Airborne Command Post ("Looking Glass") aircraft off continuous alert duty.
August 2: Iraq invades Kuwait.
September 3: United States sends combat aircraft to the Middle East to help defend Saudi Arabian allies from Iraq.
October 3: Two Germanies reunify into one nation.
October 15: South Africa bans racial discrimination in public accommodations only.
November: Treaty of Conventional Armed Forces in Europe cuts East-West land armies.
December 12: Lech Walesa elected President of Poland.


January 16: United States and international coalition attack Iraq in Gulf War.
March 3: Iraq accepts cease-fire terms.
July 31: Bush and Gorbachev sign START treaty, pledging to destroy thousands of strategic nuclear weapons.
August: Coup d'etat attempt against Gorbachev fails, but power shifts to Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
September 1: Clark Air Force Base closes in the Philippines due to a volcanic eruption.
September 18: All SAC bombers, tankers, and Minuteman II ICMSs removed from alert. Minuteman III, Peacekeeper, and Navy SSBNs remain on alert.
October: Gorbachev and Bush agree to major unilateral cuts in nuclear arms.
December: Commonwealth of Independent States created in the former Soviet Union. 
December 25: Gorbachev resigns as Soviet President, transfers control of nuclear arsenal to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, as the United States recognizes six independent republics: Armenia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Russia, Ukraine.