Iran-Contra affair, secret U.S. government effort in 1986 by the Reagan administration to gain the release of U.S. hostages in the Middle East by selling weapons and munitions to the Iranian government. The money raised from the sale was to be an illegal means of supporting the anti-government rebels (Contras) in Nicaragua. National Security Council members Admiral John Poindexter and Lt. Colonel Oliver North were implicated in the scandal by a Congressional committee in 1988 and were convicted on criminal charges in 1989 and 1990 trials, but North's convictions were set aside by the courts in 1990.
See also: North, Oliver Laurence.