Timeline: 1983

Jan 5  In the US, to combat inflation Paul Volcker of the Federal Reserve Board is holding interest rates high, at 13 percent.

Jan 7  President Reagan signs into law the first increase in federal gasoline taxes in 23 years, intended for rehabilitation and improvement of highways, bridges and mass transit systems.

Jan 24  Oil prices are stable at $34 a gallon. World oil supplies are up and demand has not been rising. OPEC oil ministers agree to cut production to keep prices of oil up.

Jan 24  In Italy, 25 members of the Red Brigade are sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Aldo Moro.

Feb 7  Iran invades Iraq, continuing a war that began in 1980.

Mar 8  In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, President Reagan warns against ignoring "the aggressive impulses of an evil empire," the Soviet Union.

Mar 23  President Reagan proposes technology to intercept enemy missiles.

Mar 24  Senator Kennedy labels Reagan's idea a reckless "Star Wars" scheme and speaks of its enormous cost. Some worry that the Soviets will see it as giving the US a first strike capability. Skeptical scientists will say it can't work. Military contractors will make substantial campaign contributions to encourage spending on the effort.

Apr 1  Europeans protest the presence of US nuclear weapons on their continent.

Apr 7  Families of the more than 500 Argentine servicemen missing in the Falkland war have been campaigning for information. Britain tells them that it has no secret clues to their fate.

Apr 15  In Argentina the military government takes a step toward the return of civilian rule. It restores the rights of 19 political and labor leaders to take part in political activity.

Apr 18  A car packed with explosives is crashed into the US embassy in Beirut killing 17 US foreign service and military personnel and more than 40 Lebanese. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility. There will be no rush to defend against this terrorist technique.

Apr 19  An Argentine human rights organization lists 47 secret detention camps where political prisoners were interrogated and tortured in the late 1970's.

May 4  The Vatican criticizes Argentina's military government for its campaign against leftists in the late 1970s.

May 17  Lebanon, Israel, and the United States agree to a phased Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, contingent upon a Syrian withdrawal.

Jun 9  Elections in Britain give Margaret Thatcher a landslide victory, the result, it is said, of an improved economy and her victory in the Falklands.

Photo of a stripped Tamil youth shortly before he is doused with gasoline and set afire

A stripped Tamil youth shortly before he is doused with gasoline and set afire.

Jun 15  US Secretary of State, George Schultz, is struggling against hawks: Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger and others. Schultz has been preparing for negotiations with the Soviet Union. He tells senators that "Strength and realism can deter war but only direct dialogue and negotiation can open the path toward lasting peace."

Jul 4  A letter from Communist Party chief Yuri Andropov to President Reagan suggests elimination of the nuclear threat. Reagan responds with the suggestion that US and Soviet negotiators pursue this at Geneva.

Jul 20  The government of Poland declares an end to martial law.

Jul 23  In Sri Lanka, Tamil guerrillas ambush and kill 13 government soldiers. This is followed by Sinhala mobs rioting and killing from 400 to 3,000 Tamils.

Jul 25-28  In Colombo, capitol of Sri Lanka, gangs rampage against the Tamil minority. Close to 1,000 Tamils will be estimated as having been killed, and more than 100,000 Tamil homes destroyed. This will be called Black July and mark the beginning of all-out war between the Tamil minority and the Singhalese dominated government.

Aug 21 In Manila, Benigno Aquino, Jr., a longtime advocate of democracy for the Philippines and a foremost enemy of the regime of Ferdinand Marcos, returns from exile, and as he debarks from the airliner, with the military standing by, he is shot dead.

Stanislav Petrov

Stanislav Petrov. He saves the world from nuclear distruction.

bernard Coard

Bernard Coard, super-revolutionary, responsible for the death of Marxist leader Maurice Bishop

Sep 1  Korean Air Flight 007 takes off from Anchorage, Alaska, heading for Seoul, South Korea. It veers slightly off course, flies over the southern tips of Kamchatka Peninsula and Sakhalin Island, Soviet territory, and is shot down by a Soviet aircraft. All 269 on board are killed.

Sep 23  Violence erupts in New Caledonia between native Kanaks and French expatriates. The French government withdraws its promise of independence.

Sep 25  Reports from satellites signal to Soviet security forces that a nuclear attack from the United States is pending. A diligent Russian lieutenant colonel, Stanislav Petrov, averts nuclear war by discovering a computer error.

Oct 7  On the island of Grenada, the Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard, sees Maurice Bishop as too moderate. He has military officers on his side who have been criticized lately. They overthrow Bishop and place Bishop under house arrest.

Oct 13  Bishop has been rescued from house arrest. He is recaptured and with some of his supporters executed.

Oct 23  For months leaders in the Caribbean have agreed with Reagan that Grenada could become a Communist danger for the region. President Reagan decides to send the US troops to Grenada.

Oct 23  Since September 1982, US Marines are still in Lebanon, ordered there by President Reagan to support the Lebanese armed forces. They are based at a reinforced concrete structure by the Beirut airport. A truck crashes into the Marine barracks, demolishing it and killing 241 Marines.

Oct 25  Reagan sends US forces to Grenada, asserting that 800 US medical students who are at St. George's School of Medicine are in danger and that an airport being built there, with Cuban assistance, is a danger to the United States.

Oct 30  The election victory of Raúl Alfonsín restores democracy to Argentina.

Nov 2  President Reagan signs a bill creating Martin Luther King Day.

Dec 3  The US Secretary of Defense, Caspar W. Weinberger, says he thinks the Soviet Union is ahead of the United States in developing weapons to repel nuclear attacks from outer space and that this frightens him.

Dec 15  After more than a month of fighting, leaders of the Communist forces in Grenada have been rounded up, as have a few Cubans, Russians, North Koreans, Libyans, East Germans, Bulgarians. They have been put in a "detention camp." A nine-member advisor council is left to govern until elections are held. All US combat forces leave Grenada.

Dec 19-20  President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan. The US has been interested in restoring normal diplomatic relations with the Hussein regime. The Iraqi foreign minister says that Iraq is "not interested in making mischief in the world.”

Dec 26  Poland's Communist government is still working on trying to appease public opinion. Thirty political prisoners are being released as a gesture to the Roman Catholic Church. The church is negotiating for the release of others: some prominent dissidents and senior officials of the still outlawed trade union, Solidarity.

Dec 31  Brunei gains independence from the United Kingdom.

Dec 31 Two bombs explode in France. One on the Paris train kills 3 and injures 19. The other at Marseille station kills 2 and injures 34. Police suspect the leftist terrorist-revolutionary for Palestinian causes, Carlos the Jackal.

Dec 31 In the US, inflation is down to an annual rate of 3.22 percent. Paul Volcker has lowered interest rates to 9 percent, and this is encouraging more lending, investment and home buying.

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