cuban missile crisis .info - Cuba Nuclear Crisis October 23

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October 23

October 23, 1962: U.S. Navy low-level photograph of San Cristobal MRBM site no. 1 (mission led by Commander William Ecker).
October 23, 1962: U.S. Navy low-level photograph of San Cristobal MRBM site no. 1 (mission led by Commander William Ecker).
10:00 am: Review of the latest intelligence from Cuba and the proclamation and implementation of the quarantine:

Robert Kennedy expresses irritation about the failure of US intelligence to discover the missiles earlier. "Now we are closing the barn door after the horse is gone." [1:52]
Discussion of how to handle the press - specific reporters to be briefed by specific ExComm members on a strictly off-the-record basis. [5:25]

McNamara indicates that a ship carrying offensive weapons will have to be stopped and perhaps disabled. (16:00) But Kennedy states that the Soviets will likely turn around such ships on their own to avoid a confrontation. [16:30]
JFK argues that the only way the placement of the missiles could have been prevented would have been by invading Cuba six months or one, two or even three years ago. "What we are doing," he says, "is throwing down a card on the table in a game which we don't know the ending of." [17:30]

McNamara reviews plans for destroying any SAM site which shoots down a U-2; JFK adds that when taking out the SAM site, the US should simultaneously announce that if another plane is brought down all the SAM sites would be destroyed. [21:00] When a U-2 is actually brought down by a missile from a SAM site four days later, JFK decides not to issue the order.
October 23, 1962: U.S. Navy low-level photograph of nuclear warhead bunker under construction at San Cristobal no. 1.
October 23, 1962: U.S. Navy low-level photograph of nuclear warhead bunker under construction at San Cristobal no. 1.


Bundy suggests that the president should delegate the authority to order an air strike against a SAM to the sec. of defense. JFK does not object but insists that there must be absolute verification that the plane was brought down by hostile military action and not as the result of an accident. [23:42]


Discussion of the need for hard photographic evidence to help convince the public especially, in Latin America, that the missiles are real. [32:19] [Source: JFK Library release notes prepared by Sheldon M. Stern]

October 23, time unknown: Discussion of diplomatic efforts at the UN and the vote by the Organization of American States:
Discussion about possible Soviet responses to the quarantine especially in Berlin. President told that at a minimum the Russians will inspect our truck convoys more closely. JFK quickly concludes that "we ought to accept that" because "I don `t think we're in very good shape there" to fight over whether they inspect our trucks. [4:22]
NPIC drawing of nuclear warhead bunker under construction.
NPIC drawing of nuclear warhead bunker under construction.
After word is received of the OAS vote to support the blockade, Secretary of State Dean Rusk says: "My God...I think it was very significant that we were here this morning. We passed the one contingency-an immediate, sudden, irrational [nuclear] strike [by the USSR]." [14:32][Source: JFK Library release notes prepared by Sheldon M. Stern]

October 23, 6:00pm: Further analysis ofthe wording ofthe proclamation and the implementation of the quarantine, plus a review of world reaction to the president's speechand the latest low-level photo reconnaissance:
General agreement that if and when a ship has to be stopped and searched, it should be one we are reasonably sure is carrying offensive weapons and can be boarded outside the 500 mile range of Soviet MIGs in Cuba. [14:58]

Review of the wording of the quarantine proclamation to be issued by the president JFK notes that [t]he title states that our purpose is "to stop the introduction of Sino-Soviet offensive weapons into Cuba" He suggests dropping the words "Sino-Soviet" because it could "hit them harder to name them in a way which may not be desirable. It is more challenging than it needs to be."[17:35]. JFK's view was adopted and the final tide reads: "Interdiction of thedelivery of offensive weapons to Cuba." No one questions the Cold War assumption that monolithic communism is responsible for the missiles in Cuba and the term "Sino-Soviet powers" does appear in the text

October 23, 1962: U.S. Navy low-level photograph of Sagua la Grande MRBM site.
October 23, 1962: U.S. Navy low-level photograph of Sagua la Grande MRBM site.
JFK predicts a real fight including shooting in order to board and search a Soviet ship. Says we might have to shoot the rudder or even sink a ship-very dangerous and uncertain situation. [28:20] He suggests the Soviets might have hundreds of marines on board but Bundy says crews on these ships are small and a big fight unlikely. [29:00]

Laughter results when JFK talks about stopping and disabling a ship, towing it to a US port and finding it carried baby food. [29:25] McNamara says any ship to be towed would be seached first. [Source: JFK Library release notes prepared by Sheldon M. Stern]

Wednesday, October 24: Soviet ships reach the quarantine line, but receive radio orders from Moscow to hold their positions.
 

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