2003 World History
- North Korea withdraws from treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (Jan. 10). Illinois governor George Ryan commutes 167 death row sentences, calling capital punishment flawed (Jan. 11). White House announces huge deficits expected to top $200 billion in 2003 (Jan. 15). The UN's report on Iraqi weapons inspections is highly critical, but not damning (Jan. 27). In State of the Union address, Bush announces that he is ready to attack Iraq even without a UN mandate (Jan. 28). Ariel Sharon elected Israeli prime minister (Jan. 29). Space shuttle Columbia explodes, killing all seven astronauts (Feb. 1). Nine-week general strike in Venezuela calling for President Chavez's resignation ends in defeat (Feb. 2). U.S. Secretary of State Powell presents Iraq war rationale to UN, citing Iraqi weapons as imminent threat to world security (Feb. 5). Massive peace demonstrations take place around the world, protesting potential invasion of Iraq (Feb. 15). UN Security Council members France, Germany, and Russia insist that “the military option should only be a last resort” concerning Iraq (Feb. 24). Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic assassinated (March 12). Hu Jintao succeeds Chinese president Jiang Zemin (March 15). The United States and Britain launch war against Iraq (March 19). Baghdad falls to U.S. troops (April 9). European Union expands by ten nations (April 16). First Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, sworn in (April 29). U.S.-backed “road map” for peace proposed for Middle East (April 30). The United States declares official end to combat operations in Iraq (May 1). U.S. diplomat Paul Bremer becomes civil administrator of occupied Iraq (May 12). Terrorists strike in Saudi Arabia, killing 34 at Western compound; al-Qaeda suspected (May 12). Bush signs ten-year, $350-billion tax-cut package, the third-largest tax cut in U.S. history (May 28). Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi again placed under house arrest by military regime (May 30). Eric Rudolph, Olympic bombing suspect, arrested (May 31). International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovers Iran's concealed nuclear activities and calls for intensified inspections (June 18). The U.S. Supreme Court decisively upholds the use of affirmative action in higher education (June 23). Palestinian militant groups announce cease-fire toward Israel (June 29). Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announces price of Iraq war is about $3.9 billion a month, nearly double the April estimate (July 9). Iraq's interim governing council is inaugurated (July 13). Saddam Hussein's sons killed in firefight (July 22). Mutinous troops attempt unsuccessful coup in Philippines (July 27). Terrorist bombing at Indonesian hotel kills ten (Aug. 6). Liberia's autocratic president Charles Taylor forced to leave civil war–ravaged country (Aug. 11). NATO assumes control of peacekeeping force in Afghanistan (Aug. 11). Libya accepts blame for 1988 bombing of flight over Lockerbie, Scotland; agrees to pay $2.7 billion to the families of the 270 victims (Aug. 15). Suicide bombing destroys UN headquarters in Baghdad, killing 24, including top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello (Aug. 19). Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem kills 20 Israelis, including 6 children (Aug. 19). Venezuelan opposition files petition for referendum to recall President Hugo Chavez (Aug. 20). After Israel retaliates for suicide bombing by killing top member of Hamas, militant Palestinian groups formally withdraw from cease-fire in effect since June 29 (Aug. 24). Investigation into the loss of space shuttle Columbia cites egregious organizational problems at NASA (Aug. 25). Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas resigns; “road map” to peace effectively collapses (Sept. 6). California governor Gray Davis ousted in recall vote; actor Arnold Schwarzenegger elected in his place (Oct. 7). UN votes in favor of a resolution ordering Israel to end construction of security barrier dividing Israeli and Palestinian areas (Oct. 24). Bush signs bill banning so-called partial-birth abortion procedure (Nov. 5). President Bush signs $87.5 billion emergency package for post-war Iraq reconstruction; this supplements $79 billion approved in April (Nov. 5). New Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei takes office (Nov. 12). Alabama chief justice Roy S. Moore forced from office after his refusal to remove monument of the Ten Commandments (Nov. 13). The Bush administration reverses policy, agrees to transfer power to an interim Iraqi government sooner than originally planned (Nov. 14). Suicide bombers attack two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, killing 25 (Nov. 15). Massachusetts Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage (Nov. 18). Another terrorist attack in Istanbul kills 26; al-Qaeda suspected in both (Nov. 20). Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze resigns after weeks of protests (Nov. 23). John A. Muhammad, convicted in the 2002 Washington, DC, area shootings, receives death sentence (Nov. 24). President Bush eliminates steel tariffs after WTO says U.S. violated trade laws (Dec. 4). Paul Martin succeeds Jean Chretien as Canadian prime minister (Dec. 12). Saddam Hussein is captured by American troops (Dec. 13). Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi announces he will give up weapons program (Dec. 19).