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The Secrets of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Updated on October 19, 2012

For 13 days in October, 1962, the world was waiting to see if the Soviets were going to cross the red line in the Atlantic that President Kennedy had drawn. Had they, nuclear war may have occurred. It was a face to face, eye to eye, stare down between two superpowers over Cuba and Soviet missiles there.

Many now declassified documents now reveal the many behind the scenes negotiations between the superpowers (China in 1962 was a very backward country). One secret meeting had Bobby Kennedy meeting with Khrushchev on the 27th where the US offered that it would publicly reject the invasion of cuba by the CIA if the Russians would remove the missiles. To tempt the Soviets more, the US would withdraw nuclear missiles in Turkey near the Soviet border, which were pointing towards them. Kennedy was hanging tough. The Russians were hanging tough but one would have to blink. It would Khrushchev and the Russians put on a winning face getting the US to remove missiles pointed at them. Also unknown at the time, was that a US ship had actually begun attacking soviet subs armed with nuclear missiles with depth charges, luckily all missed. Meanwhile, a US spy plane was shot down over Cuba. Then, Kennedy isolated Cuba with a naval blockade. The nuclear missiles already on Cuba had also become operational, something the CIA nor Kennedy knew then. The Russians had also stationed other lesser tactical weapons there that US intel had no clue about. Some of the nukes on the island were placed near Guantanamo Bay, because Castro felt a US invasion might occur there..

Castro was furious when he had been told of the deal between the superpowers and lobbied hard to retain the tactical nukes there that America knew nothing about. Luckily, the Russians kept their word.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      MG-you are right, never thought about it, but U R correct. For the chinese, it was a great opportunity.

    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 5 years ago from Singapore

      I wonder Perrya how the Chinese attack on India which coincided with the missile crisis fits in. The US could not intervene and the Chinese called of the attack the moment the crisis was settled.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      Ironically, this confrontation would become the basis for an unofficial back channel communications between Krushchev and Kennedy. The two exchanged informal letters for the next few months and both became well aware of their near destruction of the world. Both men actually wanted peace but both of them had their hands tied by their government's position in the Cold War. Kennedy had already instructed the Army to devise an exit plan out of southeast Asia...something the Joints Chiefs and the CIA rabidly opposed and drug their feet on. If there is a singular issue which did get Kennedy assassinated....this would be it. Very few in government at the time saw Kennedy's leaning toward peace and disarmament as a way to survive the nuclear age. Ultimately, once Kennedy was removed, that thinking won out. Thanks much, Perry! ~WB