takes pictures of Missile bases in Cuba - experts tell Kennedy he has 10
days before they are operational.
Kennedy set up a
Committee of the National Security Council to advise him.
Kennedy announced that he was mounting a naval blockade of Cuba.
B52 nuclear bombers were deployed, so that one-eighth of them were
airborne all the time. That night,
Oleg Penkovsky – a
Western spy working in Russia – was arrested. His last message read;
‘Soviet attack imminent’.
that the missile sites were ‘solely to defend Cuba against the attack of
an aggressor’. 20 Russian ships were heading for Cuba.
Khrushchev accused America of piracy.
He warned that Russia would get ready ‘a fitting reply to the
The first Russian ship reached the naval
blockade. It was an oil
ship and was allowed through.
other Russian ships (carrying missiles) turned back.
Secretly, the US
government offered to remove US missiles in Turkey in exchange for those
Russia was still building the missile bases, and
planning a military attack on Cuba - until, at 6pm,
Khrushchev sent a telegram
to Kennedy, offering to dismantle the sites if Kennedy would lift the
blockade and agree not to invade Cuba -
comment: ‘the other fellow just blinked’. The Kennedy brothers saw
the Russian ambassador, and again mentioned removing the missiles in
Before Kennedy could reply, Khrushchev sent another letter,
demanding that Kennedy also dismantle American missile bases in Turkey.
On the same day, a U2 plane was shot down over Cuba.
It looked as if war was about to happen.
Kennedy ignored the plane incident. He also ignored Khrushchev’s second letter – he
wrote simply that would lift the blockade and agree not to invade Cuba if
Khrushchev would dismantle the missile bases.
also offered secretly to dismantle the Turkish missile bases.
agreed. The crisis
Russian bombers left Cuba, and Kennedy lifted the