The 1962 presidential elections were taking place at the same time, and the White House had been denying allegations for months that it was ignoring deadly Soviet missiles 90 miles (140 kilometers) south of the Florida state line.
|Cuban Missile Crisis|
|None||1 U-2 spy aircraft lost 1 killed|
Fifty years ago, in October 1962, the world was on the verge of waging nuclear war against itself. In an address delivered on October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy warned the world that the Soviet Union was developing secret missile sites in Cuba, only 90 miles off the coast of Florida, based on photographic data reviewed by his administration.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a tense, 13-day political and military standoff over the deployment of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles in Cuba, which was just 90 miles from the beaches of the United States.
These missiles are capable of reaching the majority of major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, putting them in the crosshairs of a nuclear strike. In addition, Kennedy observed signs of nuclear-capable bombers.
In 1961, more than 100 nuclear-capable missiles produced by the United States and capable of striking Moscow with nuclear warheads were stationed in Italy and Turkey.
Why did the Soviet Union station nuclear weapons in Cuba? Khrushchev wished to help the newly established communist state in what he called “Uncle Sam’s backyard,” and to assure that the United States would not attempt another episode like the Bay of Pigs by overthrowing Castro.
Cuba does not possess nuclear weapons, and there have been no credible allegations of Cuban efforts to obtain nuclear weapons in the past few months. Cuba is not believed to be in possession of chemical weapons, and there are no credible claims of the country possessing long-range ballistic missiles either.
In 1995, Russia came dangerously close to destroying the United States with a nuclear strike after falsely believing it was under assault. If it weren’t for Russia’s then-president Boris Yeltsin, the United States of America would not exist as we know it today.
Cuban nuclear weapons included 80 nuclear-armed front cruise missiles (FKRs), 12 nuclear warheads for dual-use Luna short-range rockets, and six nuclear bombs for IL-28 bombers, all of which were deployed in the 1960s.
The Cuban Missile Crisis, according to historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., was “the most hazardous moment in the history of humanity.” Scholars and politicians alike agree that the world came the closest it has ever gone to nuclear Armageddon for a period of several days.
The blockade was lifted by President John F. Kennedy in November. By the end of the year, the missiles had been removed from Cuba. Soon after, the United States withdrew its missiles from Turkey in an unnoticed manner. The crisis, which the United States first claimed to have won handily, really prompted the Kremlin to initiate an unprecedented nuclear buildup of its own.
The blockade was lifted in November by President John F. Kennedy. The missiles had been removed from Cuba by the end of the year. A short time later, the United States withdrew their missiles from Turkey in a covert operation. The crisis, which the United States first claimed to have won handily, actually prompted the Kremlin to authorize an unprecedented nuclear buildup in the aftermath of the conflict.
As a result of the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s gross domestic product (GDP) plummeted by 35%, imports and exports both decreased by more than 80%, and several local sectors suffered significant declines. The ramifications of this were serious, with many Cuban businesses unable to function properly without this type of petroleum.
In order to keep the Soviet Union and Cuba from finding out about the missiles, President Kennedy had them classified as top secret. The purpose of this “quarantine,” as he referred to it, was to prevent the Soviet Union from bringing in further military supplies. He called for the removal of the missiles that were already in place as well as the demolition of the missile sites.
Mr. Robert McNamara of the Department of Defense presents President John F. Kennedy with three options: diplomacy with Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, a naval quarantine of Cuba, and an air attack to destroy the missile sites, which could kill thousands of Soviet personnel and trigger a Soviet counterattack on a target in the United States.