Today in History: The End of the Cuban Missile Crisis

Today in History: The End of the Cuban Missile Crisis

by M.C. Millman 

The Cuban Missile Crisis ended on October 28, 1962, with Premier Nikita Khrushchev ordering the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba after the most dangerous Cold War confrontation to date between the United States and the Soviet Union. 

Also known as the October Crisis, the Cuban Missile Crisis left the world teetered on the edge of nuclear war. During the thirteen days leading up to October 28, 1962, President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev negotiated a peaceful conclusion to the crisis.

The crisis evolved when the Soviets made a secret deal with Cuba to supply them with nuclear weapons. When a missile installation site was noted in October 1962 by two US U-2 spy plane flights over Cuba, the Cuban Missile Crisis began as the missiles would have given Cuba the ability to reach U.S. targets, including New York City and Washington, D.C.

On October 16, 1962, the U.S. demanded the immediate removal of the missiles from Cuba. The fear was that if Russia chose not to comply with the U.S. demand, the U.S. would have been forced to bomb the missile sites. 

While Khrushchev declared the U.S. naval quarantine of Cuba to be an act of war, he eventually suspended weapons deliveries to Cuba. 

Over the next two weeks, Kennedy and Khrushchev reached a peaceful outcome to the missile crisis finalized on October 28, 1962, including concessions on both sides. 

One concession made by the U.S. was to withdraw their missiles from Turkey, which was in range of Soviet territory. Kennedy also promised that the U.S. government would not undertake another invasion of Cuba.

After the crisis, a Moscow-Washington hotline was set up in the White House to allow for direct communication between the leaders of the two countries.

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