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Cuban Missile Crisis

John F Kennedy

Cuban Missile Crisis: John F Kennedy was the 35th American President who served in office from January 20,1961 to November 22, 1963. One of the important events during his presidency was the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Definition and Summary of the Cuban Missile Crisis
Summary and definition:
The Cuban Missile Crisis (October 14, 1962 October 28, 1962) was a major confrontation during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Following the failed CIA-backed Bay of  Pigs invasion, Fidel Castro made an alliance with the communists and the Soviets began to install nuclear missiles in Cuba.

An American U-2 spy plane captured photographs of the missile installations in Cuba on October 14, 1962 triggering the crisis. JFK decided to place Cuba under "quarantine" which Khrushchev warned would be seen as an act of war.

Khrushchev and Kennedy came to an agreement by which the Soviets would dismantle its missiles in Cuba and the U.S agreed to dismantle of US missile bases in Turkey and agreed never to invade Cuba without direct provocation. The Cuban Missile Crisis ended on October 28, 1962, a nuclear war was avoided ending the most dangerous moment in the history of the world.

What was the Cuban Missile Crisis? The Cuban Missile Crisis occured when the Soviets installed nuclear missiles in Cuba and American spy planes captured the missiles on camera. This led to a serious stand-off between the USA and the USSR which brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war.

Who was involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis? The leaders involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis were President John F. Kennedy (United States), Premier Nikita Khrushchev (Soviet Union) and Fidel Castro (Cuba).

What date was the Cuban Missile Crisis? The date of the Cuban Missile Crisis was from October 14, 1962 to October 28, 1962

What caused the Cuban Missile Crisis? The Cuban Missile Crisis was caused when Fidel Castro allowed the Soviet Union to place nuclear missiles on Cuba and point them towards the United States

Facts about Cuban Missile Crisis
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Cuban Missile Crisis (October 14, 1962 October 28, 1962) was a major Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The United States and the Soviet Union were embroiled in the Cold War (1945 - 1991). During the Cold War the Soviets were determined to assert their influence over smaller nations and to adopt communist governments. The United States were responding by adhering to the US Policy of Containment to restrict the spread of communism by diplomatic, military and economic actions.

Following the Bay of Pigs Invasion on April 17, 1961 Fidel Castro asked the USSR for weapons to defend Cuba against America. Fidel Castro had gone on to formally declare Cuba a socialist state and then, on December 2, 1961, Castro had proclaimed himself a "Marxist-Leninist". Communism had landed on the doorstep of the United States.

The Soviet Union publicly agreed to his request for weapons and began to install nuclear missiles in Cuba that could strike nearly any region of the USA.

The United States had recently put missiles into Turkey, very near the Soviet Union and Premier Nikita Khrushchev may have reasoned that he was simply doing the same thing by placing missiles into Cuba.

On October 14, 1962 an American U-2 spy plane flying over Cuba captured pictures of long range Soviet missiles in Cuba. (The same spy planes had been the center of the infamous U-2 Incident in May 1960).

The CIA informed President Kennedy of the missile installations on October 16, 1962 and JFK realized that he had to respond to the provocation.

Opinion regarding the type of response was strongly divided. The military and strong anti-communists (the 'Hawks') counseled an immediate air strike in order to destroy the missile sites, to be followed by an invasion of Cuba. The 'Doves' recommended going to the United Nations (UN) in order to apply economic sanctions and international pressure.

A third option was proposed by the president's  brother Robert Kennedy. This option involved the American Navy blockading, or applying a 'quarantine' on Cuba in order to prevent in order to prevent any additional offensive weapons from the USSR reaching the island.

President Kennedy was careful to call the proposed action a quarantine rather than a blockade because a blockade was technically an act of war according to international law.

JFK also threatened Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev by demanding the removal of all missiles from Cuba or face unspecified further action from the United States

The world was on the brink of a nuclear war but President Kennedy could not let the Cuban missile sites be completed. JFK knew that if the USA invaded Cuba, the action could have started WW3. Instead he decided on the "quarantine" proposal to prevent Russian ships delivering the missiles to Cuba.

President John F. Kennedy called a meeting of the National Security Council and on October 22, 1962 went on TV and radio to tell the American people that they were under threat.

Nikita Khrushchev warned that the Soviets would see the "quarantine" as a blockade and as an act of war.

Russian military forces were put on alert. US bombers were put on alert. The United States began preparations to make another attempt to invade Cuba.

Tensions grew in both Washington and Moscow and the world looked on in terror as Kennedy and Khrushchev attempted to negotiate their way out of the crisis. Secretly, the Americans suggested a trade-off of missile bases - US bases in Turkey for Russian bases in Cuba.

American ships assumed positions around Cuba to enforce the quarantine, whilst Soviet ships continued to move closer and closer to Cuba. The Soviet ships reached the quarantine line on October 24, 1962 but received orders from Moscow to hold their positions. The Russians made the first public move and ordered the Russian ships heading for Cuba to turn back.

President Khrushchev then sent a telegram offering to dismantle the Cuban bases if Kennedy lifted the blockade and promised not to invade Cuba.

Khrushchev then sent a second letter demanding the dismantling of US missile bases in Turkey. The two leaders came to an agreement and On October 28, 1962 Khrushchev announced over Radio Moscow that the Soviet Union would dismantle its missiles in Cuba. The United States made a public declaration never to invade Cuba without direct provocation. 

The Cuban Missile Crisis was over and the whole world gave a sigh of relief that the most dangerous moments in human history had at last passed

US American History
1945-1993: Cold War Era

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