The Cuban Missile Crisis (14 Oct – 20 Nov 1962) nearly led to a nuclear war outbreak between the Soviet Union and the United States, with Cuba unfortunately sandwiched in the conflict.
In 1962, the Soviet Union secretly installed intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba to counter the United States’ lead in developing missile weapon technology and also as a form of protection for Cuba as deterrence against any US-led invasions.
Despite repeated and vehement denials from Soviet Union diplomats regarding the missile installations in Cuba, President John Kennedy had irrefutable proof from photographs of their existence and he made a televised broadcast on 22 October 1962, announcing to the world that any missile attack from Cuba would constitute an attack from the Soviet Union and hence the US would respond accordingly. He also imposed a ban on any shipments of military weapons from the Soviet Union.
Many communication exchanges took place between Nikita Khrushchev, First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and President Kennedy before an agreement was reached on 28 Oct 1962. Under the terms of this agreement, the Soviet Union agreed to dismantle and withdraw all missile installations in Cuba and remove all Soviet light bombers, while the US gave their assurance that they would not invade Cuba.
This section provides reference sources that discuss how the Cuban Missile Crisis began, the motivations behind the parties involved and how it was eventually resolved without bloodshed or lives lost.
|Cuban missile crisis
(listed in alphabetical order)
- Break-up begins. (1962, November 3). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Aerial photographs of Cuba show that the dismantling of Soviet missile bases is proceeding. Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro confirms that the Soviet missiles are being withdrawn, but remains firm that Cuba has no intention of submitting to external inspection of its defences.
- Crisis over. (1962, October 30). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
President Kennedy and his advisers on the National Security Council consider the prospects of a new US-Soviet understanding, as the tension of the Cuban Missile Crisis slowly defuses and they await Soviet follow-through on Prime Minister Khrushchev’s orders to dismantle the missiles in Cuba.
The Soviet Union warns against foreign intervention in the sovereign affairs of other countries, pointedly referencing American action against Cuba’s military activity. Soviet First Deputy Premier Kosygin states that the Cuban Missile Crisis would have escalated in to nuclear war, and cautions that peaceful coexistence will be impossible if a similar conflict occurs again.
The United States meets with resistance from within the Organisation of American States on its plan for intervention in Communist Cuba, deemed by much of Latin America as a nervous and desperate preoccupation.
Aerial photographs of Soviet jet bombers still being unpacked and assembled in Cuba poses a direct obstacle to US-Soviet negotiations on the removal of weapons from Cuba. Further negotiations continue on the process of inspection for vessels leaving Cuba with the offensive weapons.
At least eight Latin American nations have offered assistance in the US blockade on offensive arms entering Cuba. The blockade has turned away at least a dozen Soviet vessels carrying “offensive material” since its initiation the previous day.
This article explains the significance of what the United States achieved in resolving the Cuban Missile Crisis, both in meeting Communist aggression firmly, and in doing so through international cooperation and diplomacy.
- Invasion threat. (1962, October 25). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
The threat of open conflict looms over Cuba, as the United States readies an invasion force to neutralise the military threat of the island, should its naval blockade prove inadequate to prevent Cuban acquisition of Soviet missiles.
- Nikita acts. (1962, October 29). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev announces that the Soviet Union has ordered the dismantling of its missile bases on Cuba and guarantees the removal of Soviet missiles under United Nations’ supervision. In return, President Kennedy accepts the proposal to lift the American quarantine on Cuba.
- Razor’s edge again. (1962, October 28). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
Continued Soviet activity at Cuba’s missile bases results in heightened tensions between the United States, Soviet Union, and Cuba, and experts speculate on the probability of an American bomber strike on the missile sites, even as negotiations between the leaders drag on.
- Ross, T. B. (1958, July 21). The missile race. The Singapore Free Press, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
American intelligence counts upwards of 25 Soviet missiles in development and production, giving the Soviets the range to threaten attacks on most of Europe, and soon the Western hemisphere.
The Cuban Missile Crisis has revealed a great deal about global politics, such as the unfeasibility of relying on the balance of nuclear power to maintain peace, the dominance of the United States and Soviet Union on the global stage in times of crisis, and the small victories present in strategic retreats.
President Kennedy addresses the American public on the Cuban missile crisis, highlighting the evidence of offensive weapons on Cuban soil, and the threat they pose with their proximity to American borders and the Soviet orchestration of the weapons transfer and assembly. Kennedy outlines the American response to the situation, declaring a quarrantine on shipments to Cuba, and announcing increased surveillance on Cuban military activity.
(listed in alphabetical order)
The books below provide insights to understanding the events that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis and how it was eventually resolved.
Rasenberger provides an in-depth account of the American-backed invasion of Cuba’s Bay of Pigs, which escalated tensions between the US and Cuba in the days leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Using long-classified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents, Rasenberger looks at the involvement of key parties in the operation, such as President Kennedy and top CIA officials.
The collection of essays in this volume, contributed by leading experts, scholars and journalists, examines different facets of the Cuban Missile Crisis to provide varied perspectives and reinterpretations of the military operations and diplomatic maneuvers employed during this intense period.
(listed in alphabetical order)
- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. (2017). Cuban Missile Crisis. Retrieved March 22, 2017, from Harvard Kennedy School website:
This website developed by Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs aims to help visitors “explore historical facts of the Cuban Missile Crisis and analyze nuclear danger today”, in relation to the movie, “Thirteen Days”, which was based on the crisis. It provides commentaries from historians, primary documents, audio files and current debates on nuclear weapons and arms control.
- Central Intelligence Agency. (2016, October 31). Bay of Pigs Release. Retrieved March 22, 2017, from Central Intelligence Agency website:
This is a series of top secret Central Intelligence (CIA) reports on the infamous Bay of Pigs operation that have been declassified under the Freedom of Information Act. The 1961 Bay of Pigs operation was a covert attempt by the CIA to overthrow the Castro regime in Cuba via a paramilitary invasion. The declassified documents constitute four volumes: Air Operations, Participation in the Conduct of Foreign Policy, Evolution of the CIA’s Anti-Castro Policies, and the Taylor Committee Investigation of the Bay of Pigs.
- John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. (n.d.). Cuban Missile Crisis. Retrieved March 22, 2017, from John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum website:
This website provides an overview of how President Kennedy handled the Cuban Missile Crisis, with links to radio and television remarks on the dismantling of Soviet missile bases in Cuba on 2 November, 1962. It also includes archived conversations with the 34th US President Dwight Eisenhower and links to the online exhibition, “World on the Brink: John F. Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis”.
- The National Security Archive. (n.d.). The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: The 40th anniversary. Retrieved March 22, 2017, from The National Security Archive website:
This website from the National Security Archive provides “press releases, selected [declassified] documents, photographs, audio clips and other material from the historic conference in Havana”. Also includes a “two day-by-day, minute-by-minute chronologies of events surrounding the missile crisis” and analysis by historians on the lessons learnt from the Crisis.
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(Updated by) Nathaniel Chew
The information in this resource guide is valid as at Mar 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
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