What Is The Cuban Missile Crisis?

The Cuban missile crisis, (October 1962), a major confrontation which brought the U.S. and Soviet Union closer to war, over the Soviet presence in Cuba of nuclear-capable missiles. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, leaders from the U.S. and the Soviet Union engaged in a tense, 13-day political and military confrontation in October 1962 over the placement of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles in Cuba, only 90 miles from U.S. soil. The Cuban missile crisis began in October 1962, when U.S. U-2 planes took reconnaissance photographs of Cuba, which showed the Soviet Union had recently placed nuclear-capable missiles there, and was preparing them to be launched against U.S. targets. Placing the nuclear missiles in Cuba was a way for the Soviet Union to demonstrate its support for Cuba, and support for the Cuban people, who saw the U.S. as a threatening force, since the United States had become their ally following the 1959 Cuban revolution.

In what became known as the Cuban missile crisis, President John F. Kennedy and a vigilant, excited American government, military, and public forced the Soviet Union to remove from Cuba not just intermediate- and medium-range ballistic missiles, but also all offensive weapons. Although the Soviets removed missiles that were already on the island of Cuba, they ramped up their building of military armory; the Cuban Missile Crisis was over, but the arms race was not. Thus, during the summer of 1962, the Soviet Union increased exports of vital military supplies to Cuba, thereby denying previously favored allies, like Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt. John F. Kennedy decided to place a naval-quarantine, or blockade, on Cuba in order to stop further Soviet shipments of missiles.

John F. Kennedy announced the quarantine in October 1962 and warned that American forces would capture offensive weapons and related materials which Soviet ships may try to bring into Cuba. John F. Kennedys deliberations with advisers, and, on October 22, made a TV speech that revealed locations, demanded they be reversed, and announced the Naval Quarantine on Cuba, which would not allow any transfers related to missile-related training. In a televised address on October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy (1917-63) informed Americans about the existence of Soviet missiles armed with nuclear weapons, explained his decision to implement a naval blockade around Cuba, and made it clear the United States was prepared to use military force, if necessary, to eliminate this perceived national security threat. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Americans and the Soviets exchanged letters and other communications, and on October 26, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev sent Kennedy a message offering to remove the Cuban missiles in return for the American leaders promise not to invade Cuba.

Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro was forced to cave, and to the great relief of Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev and the rest of the Soviet Union, Soviet missiles were packed up and returned to the Soviet Union by sea in December 1962. That day, Kennedy sent a letter to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, declaring that the U.S. would not allow the delivery of offensive weapons to Cuba, and demanding that the Soviet Union dismantle the missile bases that were either under construction or completed, and return all offensive weapons to the U.S. The Cuban missile crisis continued unabated, and on the evening of October 24, Soviet press service TAS carried a cable from Soviet first secretary Nikita Khrushchev to President John F. Kennedy, in which Khrushchev warned that direct U.S. piracy would result in war. Following a failed American attempt to overthrow Castro’s regime in Cuba through an invasion at Bay of Pigs, and as the Kennedy administration was planning Operation Mongoose, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev reached a secret deal in July 1962 with Cuban Premier Fidel Castro, in order to plant Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba in order to avert any future invasion attempts, in July 1962, with Cuban Premier Fidel Castro, that Soviet nuclear missiles to deter any future invasion attempts.

After a few tense days, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed, to the satisfaction of John F. Kennedy, to the removal of the nuclear missiles in return for formal American recognition of the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba, an end to quarantine, and to remove American nuclear missiles from North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member Turkey. For thirteen days, fears of impending nuclear war continued until agreement was reached to remove the weapons. Then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy met secretly with Soviet ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Dobrynin, and indicated that the United States was planning on removing the American Jupiter missiles from Turkey regardless, and that the United States would soon do so, but this could not form part of any public resolution to the missile crisis.

By August 29, reports had surfaced about new military construction and the presence of Soviet technicians by American U-2 spy planes flying over Cuba, and by October 14, reports had surfaced about a ballistic missile at a firing range. Reconnaissance photographs showed what appeared to be Soviet nuclear-capable medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs), as well as Soviet military support personnel, stationed in the island country — only 90 miles south of the U.S.

From the Soviet point of view, nuclearizing Cuba would also provide an effective answer to American Jupiter missiles deployed in Turkey. An attempted break-in of a Soviet vessel bound for Cuba, which could lead to military clashes, would probably precipitate a military clash which might rapidly spiral into nuclear exchanges.

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