India and the U.S. Agree on Nuclear Pact (March 2): Controversial deal allows India to buy nuclear fuel and components. In exchange, India will separate its nuclear energy program from its military one and allow inspections of the civilian energy facilities. India has never signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Sectarian Violence Continues in Iraq (March 7 et seq.): The bodies of 24 men are found in five locations in Baghdad. (March 8): Gunmen kidnap about 50 employees of a Sunni-owned security company in Baghdad. (March 12): Six car bombs explode in a Shiite section of Baghdad, killing nearly 50 people and wounding 200. (March 21): Over a two-week period, nearly 200 bodies are found in Baghdad. Most of the victims had been executed or tortured.
Nuclear Watchdog Group Refers Iran to UN (March 8): International Atomic Energy Agency, saying it cannot “conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran,” reports Iran's nuclear activity to the UN Security Council.
Dubai Company Backs Out of Port Deal (March 9): Dubai Ports World announces that, at the request of the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, it will transfer the leases to run several U.S. ports to an American company.
Milosevic Dies in Prison (March 11): Former president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, is found dead in his cell at The Hague. His four-year war-crimes trial was drawing to a close. He dies of a heart attack at age 64.
Hussein Testifies for the First Time (March 15): In his 40-minute speech, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein urges Iraqis to stop fighting each other and instead focus their attacks on the United States.
UN Approves New Human Rights Council (March 15): General Assembly votes to replace the Human Rights Commission. New council is intended to ban from membership countries that abuse human rights. The U.S. votes against the council, saying it is not enough of an improvement.
New Iraqi Parliament Meets (March 16): Legislators are sworn in, but the session ends after 30 minutes.
Iran Agrees to Discuss Iraq with the U.S. (March 16): Iran says it will meet with U.S. officials to discuss ways to help Iraq create a free and independent government in Iraq. It is the first time since 1979 that Iran has initiated a discussion with the United States.
U.S. Launches Large Assault in Iraq (March 16): Troops target insurgents near Sunni-dominated Samarra. It is the largest air attack since the beginning of the war.
Belarus Election Is Called Fraudulent (March 20): The U.S. says presidential election that gave Aleksandr G. Lukashenko 83% of the vote was rigged and calls for a new race. Supporters of opposition candidate Aleksandr Milinkevich, who won 6%, demonstrate in Minsk. (March 24): Authorities arrest protesters and opposition members. About 1,000 demonstrators have been arrested since the March 19 election. In response, the U.S. and the European Union announce they will impose sanctions against Belarus. (March 25): Opposition leader Aleksandr Kazulin, one of the presidential candidates, is arrested at a protest.
Basque Separatists Declare Cease-fire (March 22): Militant group ETA, which has killed about 800 people over almost 40 years, announces it will lay down its arms and focus on gaining independence from Spain.
France Crippled by Strike (March 28): More than one million people throughout the country protest proposed labor law that would allow employers to fire workers under age 26 within two years without giving a reason. The law is intended to control high unemployment among France's young workers. Violence breaks out in Paris.
Israel Holds Parliamentary Elections (March 28): Centrist Kadima Party, headed by acting prime minister Ehud Olmert, takes 28 of 120 seats in parliament. Olmert will have to form a coalition. Labor places second, with 20 seats.
Palestinian Cabinet Sworn In (March 29): Ismail Haniya, leader of militant group Hamas, which dominated legislative elections in January, formally becomes prime minister.
Security Council Issues Statement on Iran (March 29): The statement, negotiated over a period of three weeks, calls on Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium.
American Journalist Released in Iraq (March 30):Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor, is freed in Baghdad after being held for 82 days by a group called the Revenge Brigade.
Senate Renews Patriot Act (March 2): After protracted negotiations with the White House, Senate votes, 89–10, to renew controversial legislation. (March 9): Bush signs the law, but includes a “signing statement” that outlines his interpretation of the law, which states he is not bound by its requirement to tell Congress how the law is being used.
Former Congressman Sentenced (March 3):Randy Cunningham, a Republican from California, is sentenced to eight years in prison for taking $2.4 million in bribes from military contractors in exchange for help in securing lucrative government contracts.
South Dakota Bans Most Abortions (March 6): Challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized the procedure, Gov. Michael Rounds signs measure that outlaws all abortions except when they are necessary to save a woman's life.
Interior Secretary Resigns (March 10): Gale Norton announces plans to return to the private sector.
Congress Votes on Spending (March 16): Senate votes, 51–49, for $2.8 trillion budget that breaks spending limits. Senators also approve, 52–48, measure to increase federal debt ceiling by $781 billion, to about $9 trillion. The House passes $92 million in emergency spending for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for hurricane recovery.
Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Immigration Bill (March 27): Votes, 12–6, in favor of legislation that would legalize the country's 11 million illegal immigrants through an 11-year process involving employment, payment of a fine and back taxes, and learning English. The bill also calls for a guest-worker program for about 400,000 people each year.
Bush's Chief of Staff Resigns (March 28): President says he has accepted the resignation of Andrew Card, who says he will return to the private sector. White House budget director Joshua Bolten will succeed Card.
Senate Passes Lobbying Restrictions (March 29): Bill, approved 90–8, prohibits lobbyists from giving lawmakers gifts and meals. It also beefs up restrictions on earmarks and requires lobbyists to file reports on their activities.
Beleaguered Lobbyist Is Sentenced (March 29):Jack Abramoff, a powerful lobbyist with ties to several members of Congress, is sentenced to six years in prison by a Florida judge on fraud charges related to the 2000 purchase of a gambling cruise-ship line. He still faces sentencing in Washington on bribery charges.
Massachusetts Narrows Gay Marriage Rights (March 30): State court rules that out-of-state couples cannot marry in Massachusetts if their home states ban gay marriage.
Scientists Find Evidence of Water on a Saturn Moon (March 10): Journal Science reports that the spacecraft Cassini has taken pictures of what look like water geysers on Enceladus.
General Motors to Offer Buyouts to Union Employees (March 22): In a deal with United Auto Workers, auto-industry giant will present buyout and early-retirement packages to each of its 113,000 unionized employees.
Major League Baseball to Investigate Steroid Use (March 31): Commissioner Bud Selig asks former U.S. senator George Mitchell, who is on the board of the Boston Red Sox, to head an inquiry into steroid use by players.