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Cuban Missile Crisis
Transcript of Cuban Missile Crisis
Reason 1 -->
The U.S.A. had a strategic advantage due to their higher stockpile of missiles
The Soviet missiles were only capable of striking Alaska and not the 48 contiguous states
Reason 2 -->
There were Jupiter missiles (MRBM) in Turkey & Italy
This allowed the U.S.A. to have "first strike" capabilities
Reason 3 -->
The Soviet Union wanted control of West Berlin which was under British, French, & American control
If the missiles went undetected, or were ignored, Khrushchev could trade their removal for West Berlin
It was a conflict between:
The Soviet Union (USSR)
Allied with Cuba ,and supported by the Warsaw Pact
Allied with Turkey and Italy (members of NATO)
There was strong hatred among the Soviet Union and U.S.A. after WWII
The alliance between Cuba and the Soviet Union defied the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine: European countries should not have involvement with countries in the Western Hemisphere
The failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion resulted in the Soviet Union thinking the President was weak
The missile sites did not go undetected by the Cuban people.
The people of Cuba quickly sent reports to Miami, USA.
The reports of missiles were later confirmed, on October 14, 1962, by U-2 planes(An American reconnaissance aircraft)
Once the President, John F. Kennedy, was notified he called together a group of advisers
EXCOMM (Executive Committee of the National Security Council) was formed to deal with the crisis
There was no plan in place due to the U.S.A. believing that the Soviets would never place missiles in Cuba
EXCOMM initially wanted a land invasion but shifted towards a blockade
A blockade was considered an act of war under international law
The U.S.A. resorted to the Rio Treaty and stated that the blockade was for the protection of the Western Hemisphere
They were able to get support of the Organization of American States (OAS)
The blockade would be refereed to as a "quarantine".
The blockade would stop all weapons & other materials from entering Cuba
International Support was split around the world
China was supporting Cuba and Soviets
France was skeptical of the missiles but later confirmed their support for the U.S.A. along with other NATO nations
The Pope, John XXIII, was begging both nations not to fight
Nikita Khrushchev issued a statement to Kennedy saying that Soviet ships would ignore the blockade
The U.S military prepared for nuclear war after Khrushchev's statement.
The SAC (Strategic Air Command) was now put on DEFCON 2 for the first and only time in U.S history
B-47 & B-52 bombers were equipped with nuclear warheads and on a 15 minute notice for take-off
145 ICBMs were ready to launch and strike the Soviet Union
This was the peak of the crisis; both world superpowers were on the brink of nuclear fallout. One U.S. General states:
"They didn't do a thing, they froze in place. We were never further from nuclear war than at the time of Cuba, never further."
The Cuban Missile Crisis
United States of America
John F. Kennedy
Snapshot of the Issue
It was a conflict between the U.S.A. & Soviet Union, that lasted 13 days
The crisis began October 14, 1962 and ended October 27, 1962
The US stockpiled missiles in Turkey and Italy, which angered the Soviet Union
The Soviet Union responded by placing missiles in Cuba
It is the closest the Cold War turned into a nuclear conflict
The entire arms race slowed down following the crisis
Many treaties were made which controlled the use of nuclear weapons
The Balance of Power
The "missile gap" was used to determine the power of the U.S.A. in comparison to the Soviet Union
It was believed at the time that the Soviet Union had a much larger stock of missiles than the U.S.A.
The U.S.A. had a clear advantage in terms of missile count
They had 27 000 combined warheads
The U.S.A. also had stronger defense against attacks
Both the Air Force & Navy could defend against attacks
The Soviet Union
Soviet ICBMs were very inaccurate and low in number
Only 3600 nuclear warheads
They relied on medium range missiles so they needed a closer vantage point
The Soviet Union had one advantage over the U.S.A.
It had twice the number of ground forces
Operation Anadyr was a secret mission which placed nuclear weapons in Cuba
It was based on "denial & deception" which consisted of stopping all information about the shipment and lying about what is being shipped
On September 11, 1962 the Soviet Union warned the U.S.A. that any attack on the ships would mean war
At this time there were already operational nuclear weapons in Cuba
Fidel Castro, the Cuban dictator, had conflicting view but agreed to the missiles
He believed that a U.S.A. attack on Cuba was imminent & the missiles would be the best defense
He however, did not want to be a Soviet "puppet"
1. Ignore the missiles: Americans were vulnerable to Soviet attack before missiles in Cuba
2. Use diplomacy to get the Soviets to remove the missiles
3. Warn Fidel Castro of the the danger Cuba was in
4. Use US Navy to prevent missiles from reaching Cuba (Blockade)
5. Use US Air Force to attack missile sites ( Air Strike)
6. Attempt a full land invasion to overthrow Castro
A U.S.A. ship intercepting a Soviet ship which was cleared and sent on its way
A map showing the extend of the U.S.A. blockade
Kennedy's Address to the Nation
Kennedy's response to the missiles was supported by his allies. During his speech he stated:
"It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union."
Kennedy also attacked the Soviet blockade of Berlin when he said:
"We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948."
A outline of missiles over the world during the Cold War
A map showing the potential range of the Soviet missiles
A photo taken by a U-2 reconnaissance flight showing missile sites in Cuba
At this time the defense readiness condition (DEFCON) was changed to level 3.
Prime Minister Diefenbaker initially doubted the intelligence from the U-2 planes
He requested independent inspectors from the UN to survey Cuba's nuclear sites
Delayed the decision to put military alertness level on DEFCON 3
Eventually gave the order due to the enormity of the situation, but only after the climax had passed
The Canadian military had already put itself on alert under the guidance of the Department of Defense
In short, Canada did almost nothing
A series of letters were exchanged between Kennedy & Khrushchev to find a solution to the crisis
The U.S. Department of State received a letter from Khrushchev on October 24, 1962
The letter was very emotional and states that the missiles will be removed if the U.S. declares not to invade Cuba
A second letter arrives on October 26, 1962, this one demanding that the Jupiter missiles in Turkey & Italy be removed
"You are disturbed over Cuba. You say that this disturbs you because it is ninety-nine miles by sea from the coast of the United States of America. But ... you have placed destructive missile weapons, which you call offensive, in Italy and Turkey, literally next to us...."
While these negotiations were underway a U-2 plane was shot and the pilot was killed over Cuba
Kennedy stayed his hand and continued negotiations, sending a letter which agreed to the terms of Khrushchev first letter
More negotiations followed and the U.S.A. agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey & Italy
This was delivered as an oral message rather than on the letter
This was not part of the public statement
The missiles and bombers were all removed by winter of 1962
The "quarantine" of Cuba was ended on Nov. 20, 1962
On April 24, 1963 the last Jupiter missiles in Turkey and Italy were removed
To the rest of the world it seemed like the Soviets had lost because the removal of missile from Turkey & Italy was not made public
Moscow - Washington Hot Line
Was a direct link for the 2 Cold War nations to contact each other
Was called the "red telephone"
Present day link is through computer
It has been used extensively to communicate with the Soviets
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
After being on the brink of nuclear war the Soviet Union agreed to a nuclear test ban.
The treaty was signed by the U.S.A., Soviet Union, and U.K.
It banned testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere
The treaty has been joined by almost all the nations in the world, including Canada
Khrushchev was humiliated and he lost the respect of the Soviet people
Cuban & Soviet relationships damaged
Castro believed that the Soviets had betrayed them by removing the missiles, and not including Cuba in the negotiations
The economic embargo against Cuba was tightened and lasted until 2009
Travel to Cuba by American citizens was restricted heavily
Feelings towards nuclear war
The balance of power between the U.S.A. & the Soviet Union