Cuban Missile Crisis


  • Intro

    The Cuban missile crisis possibly marked the peak of Cold War tensions, in which the world was brought to the brink of a catastrophic nuclear war. In October 1962 an American spy plane revealed that the Russians were secretly building nuclear missile sites in Communist Cuba. As Cuba brushes the coastline of Florida, these weapons presented a terrifying threat both to the US and the wider Capitalist world. This newspaper article from the Daily Sketch on 23 October 1962 reports President John F. Kennedy’s historic TV and Radio broadcast, in which he announced to the world that a devastating conflict was a very real possibility.


    In fact, the US had more than 25,000 nuclear weapons – two of them were used to bomb the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The Soviet Union had perhaps half this many. Although Kennedy’s advisors initially thought the most effective response would be to bomb Cuba, the ultimate plan was for Kennedy to announce the threat to the public, and to order a military blockade of Cuba to prevent the delivery of further bombs. The subsequent negotiations between Kennedy and Russian leader, Nikita Khrushchev, represent an incredible achievement in the history of political diplomacy. Khrushchev was persuaded to withdraw all weapons from Cuba in return for the removal of US missiles from Turkey and a promise not to invade Cuba.  


    President Kennedy was assassinated a year after the missile crisis and Khrushchev was ousted from power a year after that, but the Soviet Union continued for another 27 years.

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