October 1962: Cuban Missile Crisis

Note: With so many authoritative websites and resources dealing with the crisis (some of which are linked below), what follows is a very abbreviated timeline of the 13 days -- October 16 through October 28 -- that are regarded as the beginning and end of the nuclear showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, October 16: President John F. Kennedy is told that a missile site capable of firing nuclear weapons against the United States is under construction in Cuba. The evidence comes from aerial photographs taken October 14. The first meeting of what came to be called ExComm (the Executive Committee of the National Security Council) is held.

Wednesday, October 17: U.S. officials discuss a response, including an airstrike or naval blockade against Cuba.

Thursday, October 18: Kennedy meets with Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko and ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. Gromyko says the missiles are defensive; Kennedy knows otherwise but does not tell the Soviets.

Friday, October 19: The Joint Chiefs of Staff push their case for military action amid more photos of Soviet activity.

Saturday, October 20: The first Soviet missile is declared "combat-ready."

Sunday, October 21: Kennedy approves the quarantine option.

Monday, October 22: In a nationally televised address, Kennedy announces the quarantine against Cuba. Meanwhile, the United States' B-52 nuclear bomber force begins flights around the clock, with more nuclear-armed aircraft sent to U.S. bases.
* Video (from C-SPAN): @
* Audio, transcript (from JFK Library): @

Tuesday, October 23: The Organization of American States announces its support of the U.S. actions. Cuba's armed forces are placed on their highest alert. Kennedy signs authorization of the naval quarantine.

Wednesday, October 24: The quarantine goes into effect; Soviet ships hold their position or turn back. The Strategic Air Command announces the U.S. armed forces are on DEFCON 2 alert, one level below war.

Thursday, October 25: The countries face off at the United Nations, with the U.S. demanding the USSR confirm or deny the existence of the bases, then presenting photographic evidence of the sites.

Friday, October 26: Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev sends a letter to Kennedy saying he will order the removal of the missiles if Kennedy pledges not to invade Cuba.

Saturday, October 27: A U-2 aircraft is shot down while flying over Cuba. A second U.S. surveillance aircraft flying from Alaska accidentally strays into Soviet airspace. Kennedy replies to Khrushchev's letter, agreeing to its conditions.

Sunday, October 28: The crisis ends as Khrushchev announces the withdrawal of missiles under U.N. observation. (The U.S. also agrees to remove its missiles from Turkey, though that would not be revealed until years later.)

* John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: @
* Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School: @
* National Security Archive: @
* Foreign Policy magazine: @
* www.nuclearfiles.org: @
* The Wilson Center: @

* www.history.com: @
* www.globalsecurity.org: @

* From National Security Archive: @

"Foreign Relations of the United States" (from U.S. Department of State)
* Volume X, Cuba, January 1961 - September 1962: @
* Microfiche Supplement: @
* Volume XI, Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath, 1961 - 1963: @

Media reports:
* From The New York Times: @
* October 25 newsreel: @
* Life magazine (November 2): @
* Life magazine (November 9): @

* "The Cuban Missile Crisis Revisited" (edited by James A. Nathan, 1992): @
* "Cuban Missile Crisis: The Essential Reference Guide" (edited by Priscilla Roberts, 2012): @
* "Thirteen Days" (Robert F. Kennedy, 1968): @
* "Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History" (Jane Franklin, 1997): @
* "President Kennedy: Profile of Power" (Richard Reeves, 1993): @

Other resources:
* Documents (from Avalon Project, Yale Law School): @
* Documents (from Mount Holyoke College): @
* CIA documents (from www.allworldwars.com): @
* Digital Archive, Cold War International History Project: @
* "Clouds Over Cuba" (documentary from JFK Library): @
* "The Armageddon Letters" (multimedia presentation): @
* "Learning from the Missile Crisis" (Smithsonian magazine, October 2002): @ 

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