Cuban Missile Crisis

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The Cuban Missile Crisis (known as The October Crisis in Cuba or Russian: Карибский кризис Caribbean Crisis in Russia) was a confrontation between the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War. In September 1962, the Cuban and Soviet governments began to surreptitiously build bases in Cuba for a number of medium- and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles (MRBMs and IRBMs) with the ability to strike most of the continental United States. This action followed the 1958 deployment of Thor IRBMs in the UK and Jupiter IRBMs to Italy and Turkey in 1961 – more than 100 U.S.-built missiles having the capability to strike Moscow with nuclear warheads. On October 14, 1962, a United States U-2 photoreconnaissance plane captured photographic proof of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba.

The ensuing crisis ranks with the Berlin Blockade as one of the major confrontations of the Cold War and is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to turning into a nuclear conflict.[1] It also marks the first documented instance of the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) being discussed as a determining factor in a major international arms agreement.[2] [3] The United States considered attacking Cuba via air and sea and settled on a military "quarantine" of Cuba. The U.S. announced that it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba and demanded that the Soviets dismantle the missile bases already under construction or completed in Cuba and remove all offensive weapons. The Kennedy administration held a slim hope that the Kremlin would agree to their demands, and expected a military confrontation. On the Soviet end, Nikita Khrushchev wrote in a letter to Kennedy that his quarantine of "navigation in international waters and air space" constituted "an act of aggression propelling humankind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war."

The Soviets publicly balked at the U.S. demands, but in secret back-channel communications initiated a proposal to resolve the crisis. The confrontation ended on October 28, 1962 when President John F. Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached a public/secret agreement with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Publicly the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement to never invade Cuba. Secretly, also in exchange the US agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Thor and Jupiter IRBMs (nuclear missiles) deployed in Europe and Turkey.

Only two weeks after the agreement, the Soviets had removed the missile systems and their support equipment, loading them onto eight Soviet ships from November 5–9. A month later, on December 5 and 6, the Soviet Il-28 bombers were loaded onto three Soviet ships and shipped back to Russia. The quarantine was formally ended at 6:45 p.m. EDT on November 20, 1962. Eleven months after the agreement, all American weapons were deactivated (by September 1963). An additional outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis negotiations was the creation of the Hotline Agreement and the Moscow-Washington hot line, a direct communications link between Moscow and Washington, D.C.

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