Cuban missile crisis


Cuban missile crisis
a dangerous political situation that developed in 1962 between the US and USSR. President Kennedy became aware that there were Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba and sent the US Navy to stop Soviet ships from bringing more. It seemed possible that there would be a nuclear war between the two countries, but the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ordered the Russian ships to turn back and later removed all of the weapons.

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(1962) Major confrontation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.

In October 1962 a U.S. spy plane detected a ballistic missile on a launching site in Cuba. Pres. John F. Kennedy placed a naval blockade around the island, and for several days the U.S. and the Soviet Union hovered on the brink of war. Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev finally agreed to remove the missiles in return for a secret commitment from the U.S. to withdraw its own missiles from Turkey and to never invade Cuba. The incident increased tensions during the Cold War and fueled the nuclear arms race between the two countries. See also Fidel Castro.

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 (October 1962), major confrontation that brought the United States and the Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) close to war over the presence of Soviet nuclear-armed (nuclear weapon) missiles in Cuba.

      Having promised in May 1960 to defend Cuba with Soviet arms, the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev (Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich) assumed that the United States would take no steps to prevent the installation of Soviet medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Cuba. Such missiles could hit much of the eastern United States within a few minutes if launched from Cuba. The United States learned in July 1962 that the Soviet Union had begun missile shipments to Cuba. By August 29 new military construction and the presence of Soviet technicians had been reported by U.S. U-2 spy planes flying over the island, and on October 14 the presence of a ballistic missile on a launching site was reported.

 After carefully considering the alternatives of an immediate U.S. invasion of Cuba (or air strikes of the missile sites), a blockade of the island, or further diplomatic maneuvers, President John F. Kennedy (Kennedy, John F.) decided to place a naval “quarantine,” or blockade, on Cuba to prevent further Soviet shipments of missiles. Kennedy announced the quarantine on October 22 and warned that U.S. forces would seize “offensive weapons and associated matériel” that Soviet vessels might attempt to deliver to Cuba. During the following days, Soviet ships bound for Cuba altered course away from the quarantined zone. As the two superpowers hovered close to the brink of nuclear war, messages were exchanged between Kennedy and Khrushchev amidst extreme tension on both sides. On October 28 Khrushchev capitulated, informing Kennedy that work on the missile sites would be halted and that the missiles already in Cuba would be returned to the Soviet Union. In return, Kennedy committed the United States never to invade Cuba. Kennedy also secretly promised to withdraw the nuclear-armed missiles that the United States had stationed in Turkey in previous years. In the following weeks both superpowers began fulfilling their promises, and the crisis was over by late November. Cuba's communist leader, Fidel Castro, was infuriated by the Soviets' retreat in the face of the U.S. ultimatum but was powerless to act.

      The Cuban missile crisis marked the climax of an acutely antagonistic period in U.S.-Soviet relations. The crisis also marked the closest point that the world had ever come to global nuclear war. It is generally believed that the Soviets' humiliation in Cuba played an important part in Khrushchev's fall from power in October 1964 and in the Soviet Union's determination to achieve, at the least, a nuclear parity with the United States.

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Universalium. 2010.

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