World History 1986- 1987

1986 Soviets free Scharansky The Soviet released Anotoly Scharansky, a leading Jewish dissedent. Scharansky was being held in Soviet jails, accused of espionage. The release, which took place on February 11, marked another event in the easing of East- West tension that had begun with Gorbachev's assumption of leadership.

President Reagan and Gorbachev had met in November 1985 at a summit in Geneva. Although no major agreements were reached, the Geneva summit marked the first in a series of meetings in which substanative agreements were reached. The release of Scharansky was soon followed by the granting of permission to emigrate for most of the leading Soviet Jewish "refuseniks" (those refused permission to emigrate).
1986 Soviets Nuclear Disaster At Chernobyl A Soviet nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine, not far from Kiev, exploded, releasing fatal radiation to the surrounding areas. The disaster at Chernobyl was important, not just to the over 100,000 that would eventually be affected by the radiation, but for its overall impact on Soviet citizens. The initial explosion was ignored both locally and in Moscow. Only when Scandinavian monitors noticed the high level of radiation did Soviet officials admit what had happened and begin evacuating residents from the affected areas.

The disaster and the belated reaction of the government further undermined the already diminished confidence the people of the Soviet Union had in their government.
1986 Summit at Reykjavik A two-day summit was held in Reykjavik, Iceland between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. At the summit, the Soviets made major concession in negotiations on Strategic Arms. An outline for an agreement on the elimination of intermediate missiles from Europe, as well as a framework for START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks), was reached.

Unfortunately, Soviet demands that the US S.D.I. (Strategic Defense Initiative) program be haulted resulted in a last minute impasse in the talks. That impasse and the tired looks on the faces of the conferees at the end of the meetings resulted in the world's press labeling the sessions as a failure. However, a great deal of progress was made at the summit, progress upon which later meetings built.
1986 Portugal and Spain enter the Common Market Portugal and Spain joined the European Common Market, thus expanding the market.
1986 Marcos Flees the Phillippines On February 7, President Ferdinand Marcos, ruler of the Philippines for 20 years, ran for re-election against Corazon Aquino, widow of slain opposition leader Benigno Aquino. Marcos had Parliament declare him the winner, even though Aquino had actually won. Mass demonstrations ensued, and Marcos was forced to flee when the army refused to put down the demonstrations.
1986 US plans attack on Tripoli After a terrorist attack in Germany, during which an American serviceman was killed, the United States launched an air attack on Libya. Targets were hit in Tripoli and Benghazi. Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi's headquarters were also hit.
1986 Shuttle Challenger Explodes Seventy–three seconds after blast-off, the shuttle Challenger exploded and killed all seven astronauts on board. The explosion was the greatest loss ever for the American Space Program. The tragedy was later blamed on faulty o-rings in the booster rocket.

The crew members were: Gregory B. Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Dr. Ronald E. McNair, Dr. Judith Resnick, Col. Ellison S. Onizuka, Commander Francis "Dick" Scobee and Commander Michael J. Smith.

1986 Iran Contra Deal The Reagan Administration confirmed that it had been selling arms to Iran, which was fighting a war with Iraq, in an effort to obtain the release of American hostages in Lebanon. Money from the sales was used to help the Contras fighting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
1986 US Responds to Libyan Terror On April 15, in response to a Libyan-sponsored terrorist attack against Americans in West Germany, American planes attacked various targets in Libya. As a result, the Libyans scaled back their support for terrorist activities against Western targets.
1987 Gorbechav cmapaigns for Glasnonst and Perosroika Mikhail Go rbachev called for multi-party representation in local elections within the Soviet Union. The multi-party elections brought the first taste of democracy to the Soviets.
1987 Reagan and Gorbechav meet in Washington The signing of the I.N.F. (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces) treaty in 1987 marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. I.N.F. was the first treaty to eliminate a complete class of weapons. It was also the first treaty to include an in-depth verification program.

The treaty was concieved as a result of the United States' decision to deploy Pershing intermediate missiles in Europe, against strong Soviet opposition. At the same time, the Soviet Union, under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, had undertaken a new course of external openness and internal reform. Thus, after failing to convince America to stop deploying the Pershing missile, Gorbachev agreed to negotiate the elimination of the Pershing. In return, the Soviets agreed to destroy all of their intermediate missiles. The Soviets had nearly three times as many intermediate missiles as the US Pershing inventory.

The I.N.F. treaty convinced many that it was possible to achieve a new set of agreements with the Soviets. As a result, Soviets were able to quicken the pace of what was known as "glasnost" (openess and reform). Glasnost would ultimately cause the end of the Soviet empire.
1987 Tamil Guerrilla Ambush Convey Tamil guerrillas, opposed to the government of the Sinhalese majority in Sri Lanka, attacked a convoy about 100 miles north of Colombo. The guerrillas killed 127 people and wounded 60. With the agreement of the Sri Lankan government, India sent peacekeeping forces to Northern Sri Lanka in July. That force grew to 40,000 men. By the time India withdrew its forces at the end of 1989, 1,000 had been killed and 3,000 wounded.
1987 Libyan Troops Driven Out of Chad Chad took the offensive in its civil war. The Army of Chad attacked Libyan forces in the northern village of Aozou and routed them. They then raided a Libyan air base that was being used to support the Libyan war effort in Chad. The Chadian Army claimed to have destroyed 26 Libyan planes. A cease-fire was soon negotiated.
1987 USS Stark Hit by Exocet Missiles The USS Stark, a US frigate, was attacked by an Iraqi air-to-sea missile and severely damaged. Thirty sailors were killed in the attack, which was apparently accidental.
1987 Intifada Begins When an Israeli truck in the Gaza Strip hit and killed four people, Palestinians responded by violent protests. The violent protests led by the youth became known and the "Intifada." The Israelis found it very difficult to put down the uprising.
1987 Rioting Brakes Out in Haj On the eve of the annual Haj, Shi'ite Muslims mostly from Iran started a riot with Saudi Arabian police. Four hundred and two were killed in the fighting.