Former president Ronald Reagan said in memoirs released Sunday that if he had another chance he would demand an explanation from his aides on how money from the sales of arms to Iran was illegally diverted to Nicaraguan rebels.
In the second part of the memoirs to be released by Time magazine, he also says that while he "didn't have to think 30 seconds about saying yes" to selling missiles to Iran he continues to deny any link between the sale of arms with a release of U.S. hostages from Lebanon.The Iran-Contra affair was the gravest crisis of Reagan's eight years in office, involving arms sales to Iran and the illegal diversion of profits to rebels fighting to overthrow the left-wing Nicaraguan government.
There were also questions raised that the arms sales were connected to a deal allowing the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon.
Reagan says in the memoirs, "I still believe that the Iran initiative was not an effort to swap arms for hostages. But I know it may not look that way to some people."
He said, however, that in regard to the diversion of funds to the Contra rebels during a time Congress had banned such activity, he would demand an explanation from John Poindexter, his security adviser, and from Oliver North, the White House aide who ran the operation.
If given another chance, Reagan said, "I would bring both of them into the Oval Office and say, `OK, John and Ollie, level with me. Tell me what really happened and what it is that you are hiding from me.'
"If I had done that, at least I wouldn't be sitting here, writing this book, still ignorant of some of things that went on during the Iran-Contra affair," he writes.
He also said that while he still feels his policy sending U.S. Marines into Lebanon in 1982 was correct, the 1983 bombing that killed 241 Marines was "my greatest regret and sorrow as president."