History of North America

Missile Crisis

The Missile Crisis , which occurred in October 1962, was a diplomatic incident between the United States and the Soviet Union, over the installation of missiles in Cuba.

The event is considered the most tense moment of the Cold War when the world had a real chance of succumbing to nuclear war.


The United States and the Soviet Union were leaders of opposing ideological blocs during the Cold War period. The former defended capitalism, while the USSR, socialism.

Both vied for each country in order to increase their zones of influence, either through financial aid or military interventions. Despite this, both countries never faced each other directly.

With the victory of Fidel Castro's forces (1926-2016) in the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the United States lost an ally. When Castro announced the implantation of the socialist regime on the island, the Americans knew that they had gained an enemy.

The Americans' response was to enact an economic embargo on Cuba, causing instability in its economy.

Missile Crisis Summary

In November 1961, the United States deployed fifteen “Jupiter” nuclear missiles in Turkey and 30 missiles in Italy. These weapons had a range of 2,400 km and threatened Moscow.

With the beginning of the American embargo on Cuba, the United States began to monitor the traffic of ships to the Caribbean island and noticed an increase in the circulation of vessels flying the Soviet flag.

On October 14, 1962, U2 spy planes photograph the São Cristóvão region. The images reveal constructions of bases and installed nuclear warheads, including ramps that would allow the launch of missiles.

For the United States, it was unacceptable to have nuclear missiles so close to its territory, while for Cuba, the weapons were a guarantee that they would not be invaded again. The USSR, on the other hand, showed that it could install weapons on the American continent.

A fierce dispute would then begin between the two countries. President Kennedy (1917-1963) decides to manage the crisis with his group of closest collaborators and strives to achieve a peaceful solution.

On the other hand, the US General Staff prefers an invasion of the Caribbean island or a pre-emptive air strike.

See also:Cold War:features, causes and consequences

Quarantine in Cuba

Thus, the United States opted for a naval blockade of Cuba, a quarantine, as it was called.

In it, the US Navy would inspect Soviet-flagged ships and those that contained weapons would be sent back to their home port. The initiative was supported by NATO.

In Cuba, the population took to the streets to defend the Revolution and criticize what they considered to be an intervention in their internal affairs. Likewise, the Cuban army mobilized in anticipation of an American invasion.

As for the USSR, President Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971) showed no signs of retreat. He even asked Cubans to shoot a group of planes that flew over the island.

See also:Cuban Revolution

Missile Crisis Solution

Only on October 26 did the Soviets offer another solution:they would commit to withdrawing the missiles if the United States did not invade Cuba.

The next day, an American U2 was shot down on the island, causing American generals to pressure President Kennedy for an air strike.

Faced with the impasse, the United Nations convenes its Security Council. On October 28, Khrushchev agrees to withdraw the missiles from Cuba.

Later, in an unofficial agreement, the Soviets demanded the withdrawal of the missiles in Turkey, which the United States did.

Consequences of the Missile Crisis

After two weeks of tense relations between the United States, the USSR and Cuba, the dispute has come to an end.

The incident prompted the creation of a direct line of contact between the White House and the Kremlin that would become known as the "red phone".

In this way, the Missile Crisis was another chapter between the two world political poles, as was the Korean War and what the Vietnam War would be like, among other conflicts.


In each country, the episode was given a distinct name:Caribbean Crisis , in the USSR; October Crisis , in Cuba and Missile Crisis , in the USA.

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