This chronology contains the major
events in the attempts to get at the truth concerning the shooting down of
Korean Airlines Flight 007. This is
not an attempt to present an exhaustive chronology of all events related to the
|August 31, 1983
|Ronald Reagan is
President, Uri Andropov is General Secretary and Premier.
Korean Air Lines Flight 007 departs from John F. Kennedy
International Airport, New York City with final destination being
Kimpo International Airport, Seoul, Korea. The plane, a Boeing 747
wide-body passenger liner stopped in Anchorage, Alaska for
refueling. At the same time, companion flight KAL 015, carrying
Senator Jesse Helms, Senator Steven Simms, and Congressman Carroll
Hubbard, Jr. of Kentucky, stopped over. Senator Helms sent word to
invite Congressman McDonald, a passenger on KAL 007 to join his
group. Word came back that McDonald was sleeping and did not wish to
|September 1, 1983
|KAL 007 shot down by
Soviet fighters. Initial reports, based on message from pilot
monitored in Narita, Japan, and other sources, was that plane landed
safely on Sakhalin. US Secretary of State George P. Shultz announced
that plane took 12 minutes to disappear off radar screens.
The first Soviet aerial (helicopter) and naval (KGB vessels
and associated civilian trawlers) mission, within 1/2 hour of
shootdown, to 4 1/2 mile by 3 1/2 mile Moneron Island within Soviet
waters, the location of Soviet tracking of KAL 007 in its spiral
descent. See Soviet transcripts for orders
Soviet denials of knowledge of shootdown, then denials of
whereabouts of plane
The next day, reports would indicate that plane had been totally
Marshal Valentin I.Verennikov heading secret State Commision
despatched to Sakhalin to head Soviet damage control and cover-up
|September 5, 1983
|President Ronald Regan speaks
on the incident, condemning the Soviets. Text of televised speech is
available on the Internet here.
|September 9, 1983
Ogarkov Moscow press conference denying knowledge of where KAL 007
|September 15, 1983
|First of Soviet
Civilian divers (flown from Murmansk and Svestapol) down to sunken
KAL 007 reporting no bodies, no luggage, and appearance of plane as
having been dragged there by trawls rather than fallen from sky.
They suggest that Soviet military divers had gotten there before
|September 26, 1983
|A delegation of seven
Japanese and American officials arriving aboard the Japanese patrol
boat Tsugaru, meet a six-man Soviet delegation at the port of
Nevelsk on Sakhalin Island. KGB Major General A. I. Romanenko, the
Commander of the Sakhalin and Kuril Islands frontier guard, heads
the Soviet delegation. Hands over footwear representing 198 of the
269 passengers and crew of KAL 007. Romanenko disappears. Soviet
embassy in East Berlin later says committed suicide. Name expunged
from KGB computers. U.S. intelligence cited in Committee on Foreign
Relations Minority Staff Study of 1991 says sent to Gulag because of
Black Box oversights. Probably executed.
|September - November
|Task Force 71 of U.S.
7th Fleet under Command of Rear Admiral Walter T. Piotti, with South
Korean and Japanese vessels effect futile Search and Rescue/Salvage
Operations in International Waters north of Moneron, being prevented
by Soviets from entering Soviet territorial waters. Piotti concludes
in After Action Report, "Had TF [task force] 71 been permitted to
search without restriction imposed by claimed territorial waters,
the aircraft stood a good chance of having been found. No wreckage
of KAL 007 was found. However, the operation established, with a 95%
or above confidence level, that the wreckage, or any significant
portion of the aircraft, does not lie within the probability area
outside the 12 NM area claimed by the Soviets as their territorial
|November - December
secret memos from head of KGB Chebrikov, Defense Minister
Ustinov, and Soviet technical experts who have deciphered black box
are sent to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov describing the contents of
the Black Boxes retrieved by the Soviets and their efforts to
deceive the West. "The fact that the recorders are in possession
of the USSR shall be kept secret. As far as we are aware neither the
US nor Japan has any information on the flight recorders. We have
made necessary efforts in order to prevent any disclosure of the
information in future. ...Simulated search efforts in the Sea of
Japan are being performed by our vessels at present in order to
disinform the US and Japan. These activities will be discontinued in
accordance with a specific plan"
|August 29, 1988
Happened to Flight 007? by Robert W. Lee published in The New
American. The article asks questions about initial
reports that KAL 007 landed on Sakhalin, the absence of luggage or bodies,
the paucity of debris and related issues—calls for thorough
investigation and raises the issue of the possibility of the survival of
|Avraham Shifrin starts
investigating the incident through the Israeli Research Centre for
Prisons, Psychprisons and Forced Labor Concentration Camps of the
USSR. Shifrin, former Major in Red Army and Criminal Investigator
for Krasnodar region of Crimea, oversees network of informers within
the Soviet Union which he established after he himself was put into
the Gulag and then exiled to Siberia for spying in behalf of the
U.S. and Israel. Informants develop contacts for KAL 007.
|May 20, 1989
Air Force Captain Alexander Zuyev defects to the West from the Soviet
Union. He has information related to the shooting down of KAL 007.
|August & November 1990
|Senator Bill Bradley
in August wrote to Mikhail Gorbachev requesting more information
than the Soviets had released concerning the shootdown of KAL 007.
Then in November, Senators Ted Kennedy, Sam Nunn, and Carl Levin
wrote to Gorbachev for the same purpose. No answers were received.
KGB official sends letter to Avraham Shifrin containing names of top KGB-GRU
officers and institutes involved in a secret KAL 007 commission.
informs Senator Jesse Helms that eye witnesses had seen KAL 007 land
and passengers evacuated, and that Black Boxes had been retrieved.
That new immigrants to Israel report KAL 007 tracked to safe water
landing, that plane sunk after passengers deboarded and scattered to
simulate aircraft haven fallen.
|December 1990 - Early 1991
journal Izvestia publishes two series of articles concerning KAL 007.
These articles report that Soviet divers who explored the submerged Boeing
747 were surprised to find neither bodies nor luggage. This is
consistent with Shifrin's contention that the passengers had been rescued.
|January 16, 1991
|Memo from David
Sullivan to Senator Helms informing of some of Shifrin's sources -
including defecting KGB official, and top Soviet scientist currently
in the U.S.
|February 20, 1991
Embassy officials meet with the American Association for Families of KAL
Shifrin transfers results of 2-year investigation to office of
Senator Jesse Helms. Helms’ aids, Staff Director Dr. James P.
Lucier, Staff Assistant David Sullivan and Senior Analyst Victor
Fedei, visit Shifrin and receive access to all his information.
|Helms’ aid, David
Sullivan, informs Shifrin that materials were turned over to
Helms orders report to be
prepared. Republican Staff Study prepared drawing on Shifrin’s
material and information from US intelligence sources, CIA, NSA,
Defense Intelligence Agency. Report kept secret until late 1992.
Report concludes,"KAL 007 PROBABLY DITCHED SUCCESSFULLY,
THERE MAY HAVE BEEN SURVIVORS, THE SOVIETS HAVE BEEN LYING
MASSIVELY, AND DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS NEED TO BE MADE TO RETURN THE
Senator Bill Bradley writes Gorbachev asking for full record
of Soviet findings to be shared publicly.
|July 11, 1991
|Avraham Shifrin, Executive
Director, Research Center for Prisons, Psychiatric Prisons and
Forced-Labor Camps of the USSR, publishes first press release on KAL 007.
|December 5, 1991
writes to Boris Yeltsin concerning U.S. servicemen who were
POWs or MIAs. "The status of thousands and thousands of
American servicemen who are held by Soviet and other
Communist forces, and who were never repatriated after every
major war this century, is of grave concern to the American
people." Yeltsin would address issue on June 15,1881 while
being interviewed aboard his presidential jet on his way to
the United States, "Our archives have shown that it is true
— some of them were transferred to the territory of the
U.S.S.R. and were kept in labor camps... We can only surmise
that some of them may still be alive.
|December 10, 1991
|Senator Jesse Helms writes
President Boris Yeltsin concerning KAL 007.
In his letter, Helms asks for answers to specific questions based on Shifrin’s
material and the Republican Staff
Included in interrogatories are
request for information of Cong. Larry McDonald, location of
camps where passengers are kept, and all related military
communications of shoot down and aftermath.
"From Soviet reports of the incident, please provide
a) A list of the names of any living passengers and crew
members from the airplane;
b) A list of missing passengers and crew;
c) A list of dead passengers and crew;
d) A list and explanation of what happened to the bodies of
any dead passengers and crew;
Please provide detailed information on the fate of U.S.
Congressman Larry McDonald.”
And finally, Helms would add:
"1. How many KAL-007 family members and crew are being held
in Soviet camps?
2. Please provide a detailed list of the camps containing
live passengers and crew, together with a map showing their
|February 11, 1992
Letter of Rear Admiral Bud
Nance, Staff Director under Sen. Helms, establishing the
Israeli research verified by CIA to be basis for Helms
letter to Yeltsin.
|March 21, 1992
1 TV reveals that Russian Defense Ministry has black boxes. (Korea Times,
March 24, 1992)
|March 24, 1992
Minister Dmitri Ustinov acknowledges on Russian T.V.that he
ordered all out effort to retrieve Black Boxes "in order to
prevent the U.S. from finding them and to save the Soviet
Union from a flurry of international accusations for
destroying a civilian airliner."
|May 27, 1992
acknowledges that plague that killed and maimed humans and
livestock in Sverdlosk on April 2, 1979, contrary to Soviet
assertions being caused by a cattle plague, was in reality
caused by an Anthrax leak from a military biological
facility operating in violation of a U.S. Soviet treaty.
|June 17, 1992
Yeltsin reveals existence of KGB memo reporting the existence of documents related to KAL 007.
Speaking in Washington, Yeltsin said, "It was a memorandum from (the) KGB
to the Central Committee of the Communist Party where it says that such a
tragedy has taken place, and so on and so forth, and that there are
documents which would clarify the entire picture. And the next line then
says these documents are so well concealed that it is doubtful that our
children will be able to find them, those who come after us will be able to
find them." (UPI, Washington, June 17, 1992)
|August 15, 1992
Times reports that the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. played tapes of U.S.
intercepts of cockpit voice recordings from Soviet search and rescue
aircraft picked up about four hours after KAL 007 was shot down.
These recordings reveal the fact that the Soviets knew they had
shot down a Boeing 747 with American passengers aboard and that two Soviet
interceptors circled Moneron Island for about 90 minutes after the
shoot-down trying to pinpoint the point of impact/landing.
acknowledges, for the first time, the existence of the Black
Boxes. He also promises to turn over to the South Korean
Government a transcript of the flight recorder contents as
found in KGB files.
from the American Association of Families of the Victims of
KAL 007 in Moscow receive partial transcripts form Black Box
tapes but not tapes themselves.
|The five top
secret memos that were sent to Soviet Premier Yuri
Andropov in November - December of 1983 are released by
Russian President Boris Yeltsin and published in Izvestia
|October 26, 1992
|Sonn Se Il, head of Korean
opposition party, reveals existence of the Republican Staff Study “CIA
Report” which indicates the survival of the plane and those aboard.
News Service publishes summary of report
State Department dismisses any possibility of survivors. Spokesman Richard
Boucher states, “President Yeltsin replied that there had been no
survivors, and we have no reason to doubt the Russian government’s
hands over black boxes and tapes to Korean President Roh Tae Woo (FDR tape
votes to reopen KAL 007 investigation taking into account newly released
Alexander Zuyev appears on CBS “60 Minutes” revealing
that arctic gales knocked out radars on Kamchatka ten
days before KAL 007 flight. This was the reason that the
plane was not intercepted earlier. Full radar coverage
would have enabled Soviet pilots to identify the plane
as a civilian airliner and force it to land on
He was prevented from speaking publicly by US
authorities until January 1993. Zuyev died in light
plane accident June 10, 2001.
turns over FDR tapes to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
(Korea Times, January 10, 1993)
ICAO Report presented to Secretary General, United
of the International Committee for the Rescue of KAL 007
007: The Untold Story of KAL 007 and Its Survivors
by Bert Schlossberg published. Copies
sent to all members of US Senate and many Congressmen as well as members
of the media. About 600 copies sent out.
|March 15, 2002
|Lt. General Valeri
Kamenski, the Chief of Staff and Commander of Ukrainian Defense
Forces, Formally Commander of Soviet Far East Military District
Air Defense, and "strategic" commander of the shootdown
acknowledges, "It is still a mystery what happened to the bodies
of the crew and passengers on the plane." Read more
|September 1, 2003
Prozumentshchikov, Deputy Director of the Russian State Archives
of Recent History publishes a
statement in RIA Novosti admitting that the Soviets
both knew where KAL flight 007 had come down and were
intentionally trying to keep the Americans, Japanese and others
away from the site. As similar deceptions had not accompanied
other aircraft downings, this indicates a strong motivation
from the very beginning to keep this "crash" hidden.