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EURO-CUBA NEWS: Missile Crisis Special (2) -
1) More Revealed on Cuban Missile Crisis - Associated Press
2) 40 years after - new sources on the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962: - Art Heitzer
3) For Cubans, missile crisis was a time of courage - Allentown Morning Call
4) VETERANS OF CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS ARRIVE IN HAVANA - NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE
5) Cuba Missile Crisis Draws 'Lessons' - Associated Press
6) Castro Blames Khrushchev for Crisis - Associated Press
7) Missile Crisis Cited to Make Opposite Points - New York Times
More Revealed on Cuban Missile Crisis
- By ANITA SNOW
HAVANA (AP) -
Key actors in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis meeting here Saturday have learned
that fast-moving events 40 years ago nearly spun out of control and brought them
closer to nuclear disaster than they ever imagined.
declassified documents at a conference on the crisis, Cuban, American and
Russian protagonists were told the most dangerous day of all was Oct. 27, 1962 -
when a U.S. Navy destroyer dropping depth charges off the Cuban coast almost
accidentally hit the hull of a Soviet submarine carrying a nuclear warhead.
The U.S. military ``did not have a clue that the submarine had a nuclear
weapon on board,'' Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archives,
told reporters Friday night.
The nonprofit archive at George Washington
University collected many of the documents for study during the three-day
conference on the crisis that started Friday.
The depth charges
``exploded right next to the hull,'' Vadim Orlov, the submarine's signals
intelligence officer, said in a written account of the incident. ``It felt like
you were sitting in a metal barrel, which somebody is constantly blasting with a
At first, submarine crew members considered using the
nuclear weapon, thinking that war had erupted, Orlov wrote in his account. But
they ultimately surfaced, showing themselves to their American pursuers and
defusing the tension.
Another document showed that U.S. intelligence
officials had photographed only 33 of the 42 medium-range missiles in Cuba that
the Americans later discovered were there at the time. Intelligence officials
also never found any nuclear warheads, which they later learned had been kept on
The historic papers underscored the danger of a nuclear
attack - either accidental or deliberate - that existed during those tense
``A real war will begin, in which millions of Americans
and Russians will die,'' Anatoly Dobrynin, the Soviet ambassador to the United
States, quoted then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy as telling him in a top
secret memo, now declassified, on Oct. 27, 1962.
``The situation may get
out of control, with irreversible consequences,'' Robert Kennedy warned after an
American spy plane was shot down over Cuba and President Kennedy was pressured
to order pilots to return fire if fired upon.
Cuban President Fidel
Castro participated in the conference's closed door sessions Friday and
Saturday, as did former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and other key advisers
from the Kennedy administration.
As events began spinning out of control
in late October 1962, Castro began expecting a U.S. airstrike on Soviet
facilities on the island and was prepared to shoot down American combat aircraft
if they invaded Cuba, according to a top secret military directive to Gen. Issa
A. Pliyev, head of Soviet forces in Havana.
The Soviets were prepared as
``In case of a strike on our facilities by American aircraft it
has been decided to use all available air defense forces,'' the directive said.
A portion of the documents, made available to The Associated Press in
Washington, demonstrate that the crisis did not end on Oct. 29, 1962, with the
Soviet Union's agreement to remove the offensive weapons, as was widely
Weeks after the Soviet Union agreed to pull the missiles from
Cuba, Khrushchev worried that an ``irrational'' Castro would renew tensions with
the United States - and perhaps provoke war.
Cuba ``wants practically to
drag us behind it with a leash, and wants to pull us into a war with America by
its actions,'' Khrushchev said in a Nov. 16, 1962, letter to diplomatic aides in
During conference sessions on Friday, participants also looked at
American covert actions following the disastrous CIA-backed invasion of Cuba's
Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and how they intensified Cuban fears of a U.S.
The missile crisis began in mid-October 1962 when
President Kennedy learned that Cuba had Soviet nuclear missiles capable of
reaching the United States. The crisis was defused two weeks later when the
Soviet Union agreed to remove the missiles.
Former Kennedy aides Arthur
Schlesinger Jr., Richard Goodwin and Ted Sorensen are attending the conference,
as well as former CIA analyst Dino Brugioni, who interpreted American spy photos
of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
40 years after - new sources on
the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962:
Top officials involved in
the October 1962 Cuban Missile from the US, Cuba, and former Soviet Union,
including from the Kennedy administration, have gathered in Havana 40 years
later to discuss the events when the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war.
At a similar conference in Cuba 10 years ago, former US Secty. of Defense Robt.
McNamera indicated that while tens of thousands of US troops were on
full alert and on the verge of being sent to implement the invasion
recommendations by top US military leaders -- he & other US
officials had not known that the small Soviet garrisons in Cuba were
already armed with battlefield nuclear weapons and had authority to use them in
defense against such an attack. This year, we now learn that four Soviet
submarines near Cuba were also nuclear armed, and that a US destroyer was
meanwhile dropping "warning" depth charges against at least one of them
-- which was on the verge of launching its weapon in defense. Per US
military doctrine at the time, either of these incidents would have resulted in
a nuclear attack on the USSR, and presumably a similar Soviet attack in
This conference has again been
coordinated by Cuba with the renowned National Security Archive,
George Washington University in Washington,
D.C. Important documentation has been newly released, including
as available from the sources below.
Also on that site is
the very sobering documentation on the 1962 US Jt. Chiefs of
Staff recommendation re Cuba, which is also pertinent to today's debate
today about terrorism and the possible unilateral use of power against alleged
"rogue states" (often a category listed as including Cuba). The Jt.
Chiefs passed on their support for staging actual and
contrived terrorism against US personnel -- in order to set the stage for a
US invasion of Cuba; see:
The actual Jt. Chiefs memo is at:
Any comments or additions are
Law Offices of Arthur
606 W. Wisconsin Ave Suite 1706
Milwaukee, WI 53203
For Cubans, missile crisis was a time of courage
Allentown Morning Call - By
Matthew Brown - October 11, 2002
It was 40 years ago that
world teetered on nuclear armageddon.
SAN CRISTOBAL, Cuba |
-- Surprised by the rumble of the flatbed trucks, Radem Cruz Soto joined
neighbors streaming out of their one- and two-story concrete homes in this
farming community to throng the main road for a closer look.
transports carried no insignias; the pink-faced young men wore ordinary clothes.
But when he saw the missiles, Cruz Soto understood. The 19-year-old economics
student swelled with pride — and a feeling of relief.
earlier, a force of exiles organized, armed and trained by the United States had
landed at Playa Giron, a stretch of beach at the mouth of the Bay of Pigs, in an
attempt to wrest the Caribbean nation from the socialist revolution of Fidel
The attack was a disaster, but U.S.-backed insurgents continued
to hold the Sierra del Escambray mountains around the southern port city of
Trinidad in Sancti Spiritus province. Officials in Havana saw the work of the
CIA in warehouse fires, factory explosions and plots on Castro's life. Cubans
braced for a larger invasion, this time by U.S. troops.
But with the
unannounced delivery of the Soviet R-12 and R-14 medium-range ballistic
missiles, it seemed to Cruz Soto that long-awaited help finally had arrived. In
nuclear weapons capable of striking most cities in the continental United
States, he believed, Cuba now had the deterrent it needed to pursue its new
brand of socialism free of interference by the colossus to the
''We needed a line of defense,'' remembers Cruz Soto, now 59. ''To
me, the missiles were fundamental.''
Forty years ago this coming Monday,
spy plane photographs of Soviet base construction here at the foot of the
Cordillera de Guaniguanico mountains would trigger the most dangerous
confrontation of the Cold War.
But while Americans remember the Cuban
missile crisis as a moment when the world seemed to teeter on the edge of
nuclear armageddon, to Cubans it was a time of courage and defiance, a brief
instance when the little country had the strength to stand up to its
''A war would have been horrible,'' says Salvador
Massip Soto, who was a member of the Cuban Air Force in October 1962. ''But what
I remember most, the thing that still calls my attention, is that there was no
Indeed, Cubans say it wasn't until Soviet Premier Nikita
Khrushchev agreed to take the missiles back — a deal Castro learned about
through news reports — that they felt vulnerable.
''Many eyes of Cuban
and Soviet men who had been willing to give their lives with sublime dignity
filled with tears when the surprising, sudden and practically unconditional
decision to withdraw the arms was announced,'' a bitter Castro wrote to
Khrushchev days after the agreement. Perhaps you are unaware the extent to which
the Cuban people had prepared themselves to fulfill their duty to their country
and to humanity.''
'Awaiting an invasion'
On the leafy grounds of
the Museo de la Revolucion in Old Havana lies the battered turbine of the U-2
piloted by Maj. Rudolf Anderson during the crisis, and the Soviet missile
launcher used to shoot it down. Inside the former presidential palace, the
state-run museum displays a map of the naval blockade ordered by President John
F. Kennedy and a photo of anti-aircraft artillery brigades defending the storied
stretch of Havana seafront called the Malec.
These artifacts of what
Cubans call ''la Crisis de Octubre'' are presented as part of a larger
narrative, one also represented by newspaper headlines describing U.S. sanctions
against Cuba and the tank commanded by Castro to defend the Bay of
''The first thing to understand is that the Crisis of October
didn't begin in October,'' says senior guide Elio Pena Martinez, the museum's
resident expert on the era. Cubans say it was the failed April 1961 landing at
Playa Giron that led Castro to seek Soviet protection.
''We were awaiting
an invasion,'' says Massip Soto, who was operations chief for a helicopter
squadron at the Baracoa Air Base near Havana. Running his fingers over a map, he
outlines what his commanders believed would be the U.S. battle
''The Marines would land here, between Mariel and Santa Fe and
here, in the Santa Cruz area,'' he says, tapping stretches of coastline on
either side of the capital. ''These are very deep ports, so they would be good
for landing. The 82nd Airborne, and maybe the 101st, would drop in here'' — a
broad expanse south of Havana — ''to cut off the city.''
lived in Havana at the time.
''We never knew when it would come,'' he
says. ''My brother and I would not leave the house without taking the
The Cuban concerns were not unfounded. The United States had
developed plans to invade the island. The CIA was devising plots to assassinate
Castro. Operation Mongoose, authorized by Kennedy in November 1961, combined
diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions and military threats with industrial
sabotage and support for insurgents.
When Castro asked for conventional
missiles to defend Cuba, Khrushchev saw an opportunity.
In the years
since World War II, the United States had surrounded the Soviet Union with
hundreds of nuclear warheads. The Soviets, meanwhile, had no more than 50
weapons capable of striking the United States. Missile bases 90 miles from
Florida could even the strategic balance.
Khrushchev proposed sending
nuclear missiles to the island. Castro agreed to take them. The first arms
arrived in mid-September.
'Our inevitable weapons'
Cristobal, police cleared the Avenida Maceo in advance of the caravan. The
Soviet soldiers, their sunburned faces glistening in the tropical heat, smiled
and waved to their Cuban companions.
After years of tension with the
stronger United States, the missiles brought Cubans a sense of
''It was a mechanism of security,'' says Massip Soto. ''Everyone
felt more secure. Perhaps now we would have better understood all of the
From the beginning, Cuba and the Soviet Union
differed over whether to publicize the acquisition. Castro favored announcing a
mutual defense pact; Khrushchev told him they should wait until the arms were
assembled and present their presence to Kennedy as a fait accompli.
secret 1968 speech to the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party,
published this month in ''Sad and Luminous Days'' by James G. Blight and Phillip
Brenner, Castro called Khrushchev's approach ''the first
''Cuba is a sovereign, independent country, and has a right
to own the weapons that it deems necessary, and the U.S.S.R. to send them there,
in the same light that the United States has felt it has the right to make
agreements with dozens of countries, and send them the weapons as that they see
fit, without the Soviet Union considering it had the right to intercede,'' he
said. ''From the very beginning it was a capitulation, an erosion of our
Soviet troops setting up bases all over the island, even
in civilian clothes, proved difficult to hide.
''It was a secret that
everyone knew,'' Massip Soto says.
Everyone except the Americans. At the
United Nations on Oct. 8, 1962, then Cuban President Osvaldo Dortico told the
General Assembly, ''I repeat we have sufficient means with which to defend
ourselves; we have indeed our inevitable weapons, the weapons which we would
have preferred not to acquire and which we do not wish to employ.''
U.S. delegation failed to catch the hint. It wasn't until a week later, on Oct.
15, that CIA analysts examining photographs taken the day before by U-2 pilot
Maj. Richard Heyser of the San Cristobal site discovered the
'There was no panic'
Kennedy ordered the blockade,
mobilized hundreds of thousands of troops for an invasion, and demanded that
Khrushchev remove the missiles.
Eleven years old at the time, Rafael
Saumell Muoz remembers images of Castro and Kennedy flickering across the family
television screen. He recalls shortages of milk, butter, rice and beans during
the crisis, and seeing U.S. planes flying low over the island. Looking out over
the Malec from his father's high-rise apartment in Havana, he says, he could see
the line of U.S. ships stretching across the horizon.
''Obviously we were
very aware of retaliation the Americans were ready to take against Cubans,''
Saumell Muoz says. ''People were concerned about dying, and losing everything.
But I want to stress this point. I don't remember that my family ever lost their
sense of humor. The adults kept their sense of hope.''
Other Cubans share
similar memories. ''There was no terror. There was no panic,'' Massip Soto
But with Soviet ships approaching the blockade, Kennedy preparing
for action, and Castro deploying all of Cuba's military to defend the island,
not everyone was calm.
'Humiliation and surrender'
As Earth edged
toward global thermonuclear war, the United States and the Soviet Union opened
negotiations. Castro was left out of the back-channel discussions.
were a little ignored by the big ones,'' Massip Soto says. ''The Soviet Union
marginalized Cuba. They gave them much without consulting us.''
pledge not to invade the island would provide little comfort. Khrushchev's
agreement to remove the missiles would strain relations between Havana and
Moscow for years.
While the rest of the world gasped its relief, Cuba
felt ignored, betrayed and abandoned.
''Cuba did not want to live at the
expense of humiliation and surrender; for that, you do not have to be a
revolution-ary,'' Castro told Central Committee members in his secret
Forty years after the crisis, Pena Martinez still sees injustice
in the U.S. focus on Cuba.
''There is no paper, no document that says
only the great powers have a right to have nuclear weapons,'' the museum guide
says. ''The United States doesn't attack Russia. The United States doesn't
attack China. The large ones respect each other. The little ones fall by the
''The only way to avoid war is to arm yourself. We would have
preferred to die fighting than to give up the missiles.''
VETERANS OF CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
ARRIVE IN HAVANA
ARCHIVE http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv. THURSDAY - OCTOBER 10,
National Security Archive Update, October 10,
For more information, contact: Thomas S. Blanton or Peter Kornbluh 011 537
VETERANS OF CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
ARRIVE IN HAVANA;
PRESIDENT GREETS McNAMARA, SORENSEN, KENNEDYS;
CONFERENCE TO FEATURE NEW CUBAN,
US, SOVIET SECRETS
HAVANA, Cuba, 10 October 2002 -
Senior surviving veterans of the Cuban missile crisis arrived today in Havana
for a historic 40th anniversary conference co-organized by the National Security
Archive at George Washington University. At an airport arrival ceremony,
Cuban vice president Jose Ramon Fernandez greeted former US secretary of defense
Robert McNamara, JFK speechwriter and counsel Theodore Sorensen, JFK aide and
Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Gen. William Y. Smith
(USAF), JFK aide Richard Goodwin, CIA analyst Dino Brugioni, and other US
veterans and scholars. Also attending the conference as honored observers
are several members of the Kennedy family spanning three generations.
Earlier this week, a distinguished delegation of Russian veterans arrived
in Havana from Moscow, including former deputy foreign minister Georgy
Kornienko, missile deployment planner Gen. Anatoly Gribkov, former defense
minister Dmitry Yazov, and KGB officer Nikolai
This historic conference - titled "La
Crisis de Octubre: una vision politica 40 anos despues" - begins at 10 a.m. on
Friday, October 11, and will feature four panels: (1) from the Bay of Pigs to
the missiles, (2) the missiles and the October crisis, (3) the November crisis
and aftermath, (4) lessons from the
At the center of discussions will be
thousands of pages of newly declassified documents - from the Cuban government
itself, from the CIA, the Pentagon and the White House, from the Soviet Foreign
Ministry and the Politburo, and from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic,
Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, and Mexico - providing for the first time the
Cuban and multi-national perspectives on a crisis previously seen only in
Archive director Thomas Blanton said,
"The conference room will echo with words that resonate today, such as
'intelligence failure,' 'pre-emptive strike,' and 'weapons of mass
On Sunday, October 13, conferees will
visit the last surviving structure from the Soviet deployment in 1962, a nuclear
warhead bunker at the San Cristobal missile site west of
On Monday, October 14, participants will
depart Havana. On this day in 1962, a high-altitude U-2 spy plane took the
first photographs of the Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba - at San
The conference will meet at the Palacio
de Convenciones in Havana, Cuba. Most participants will be housed at the
Hotel Palco next door. Phone: 011-53-7-337235. Fax:
The conference room itself is closed to
the press, except for the opening ceremony at 10 a.m. on October 11; but the
organizers will hold daily press briefings each afternoon summarizing the
discussion and releasing key documents addressed that day. The visit to
the missile site is open to the
The National Security Archive
co-organized with Cuban institutions the highly successful 40th anniversary Bay
of Pigs conference last year in Havana; this year, the Archive is also working
with Brown University's Watson Institute. Peter Kornbluh directs the Archive's
US AND SOVIET
VETERANS ATTENDING THE CONFERENCE
* Robert S.
McNamara US Secretary of Defense (1961- 1968) and member of the ExComm during
the crisis. Later President of the World Bank.
* Theodore C. Sorensen Counsel to
JFK in 1962, chief speechwriter, and participant in the ExComm. For 11 years was
policy adviser, legal counsel and speechwriter to Senator and President Kennedy.
* Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Aide to
JFK in 1962, specializing in Latin America. Later Pulitzer Prize winning
historian of JFK and RFK.
William Y. Smith Air Force Major and aide to General Maxwell Taylor at the White
House and the JCS in 1962. Later chief of staff, SHAPE ; Deputy Commander U.S.
EUCOM; four star general.
Richard Goodwin Special Assistant to JFK and later Deputy Assistant Secretary
for Inter-American affairs at the State Department.
* Dino A. Brugioni Career CIA
officer in charge of "all-source" intelligence and briefing preparation at the
National Photographic Interpretation Center in 1962.
* Raymond L. Garthoff Career CIA
and State Department analyst, serving as State's Special Assistant for Soviet
Bloc Politico-Military Affairs in 1962. Later US Ambassador to Bulgaria and
Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.
* Captain John Peterson Watch
officer on the USS Beale, the US Navy destroyer that chased and surfaced a
Soviet submarine on October 27, 1962. A career anti-submarine warfare and sonar
specialist, he retired in 1980.
Captain William B. Ecker A US Navy reconnaissance commander, he flew the first
low-level flight confirming the missiles in Cuba on October 23rd, 1962, and many
additional overflights of Cuba.
Wayne Smith U.S. Embassy political officer in Havana from 1958 until the closing
of the Embassy in January 1961. After the Bay of Pigs, assistant to the State
Department's assistant secretary for Latin America, Adolf Berle; later, director
for Cuban affairs in the State Department.
* Georgy Markovich Kornienko
Soviet attaché at the USSR Embassy in Washington in 1962. Later head of the US
Desk of the Foreign Ministry and First Deputy Foreign Minister under Gromyko.
* Anatoly I. Gribkov Head of the
Operations Department of the USSR General Staff in 1962 and a main planner of
Operation Anadyr. Official representative of the Defense Ministry in Cuba (Oct.-
Nov. 1962). Later Chief of Staff, Warsaw Pact.
* Dmitry Timofeevich Yazov Colonel
and Commander of the special motorized rifle regiment Olgin in Cuba in 1962.
Later Marshal of the Soviet Union and Minister of Defense (1987-1991).
* Nikolai Sergeevich Leonov Senior
officer of the First Directorate of the KGB. KGB resident in Nicaragua in 1962.
Interpreter for Castro during May 1963 visit to USSR.
* Leonid Ivanovich Sannikov
Senior Lieutenant and Political Officer of the missile regiment which first
deployed the R-12 in Cuba in 1962.
* Igor Alexandrovich Amosov Soviet
military attaché in Cuba 1966-71. Currently at the Institute of Military History
(Moscow) and General Secretary for the Russian Commission of Military History.
* Vadim Orlov Intelligence officer
on Submarine B-59 at the quarantine line during the crisis.
* Sergo Anastasovich Mikoyan
Executive Secretary to his father, First Deputy Premier Anastas I. Mikoyan on
trip to Cuba after the crisis. Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Latin
America, Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation and editor of journal on
Cuba Missile Crisis Draws
- By ANITA SNOW
HAVANA (AP) - American protagonists
during the Cuban missile crisis said Thursday they hoped a reflection on events
40 years ago would help clarify how the world was nearly plunged into nuclear
``How did it happen? How close did we come to nuclear war? Why
didn't nuclear war start? What lessons can be drawn to reduce the risk of
nuclear war?'' Robert McNamara, Defense Secretary under President John F.
Kennedy, said after arriving. ``That's why I'm here.''
Speaking on the
eve of a three-day conference involving key American, Cuban and Russian actors
in the crisis, McNamara said he was stunned at a similar gathering in Havana a
decade ago when he learned how many Soviet missiles had been kept in Cuba.
For decades, former American officials didn't know ``you had 162 nuclear
warheads on your soil ... putting 90 million Americans at risk,'' McNamara said.
``When I asked President (Fidel) Castro what would have happened if we
had attacked, he said: 'We would have disappeared,''' McNamara said.
former defense secretary refused to draw parallels between the missile crisis
and President Bush's current calls for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq, saying he
could not second-guess a sitting U.S. leader.
As for the naval
quarantine he personally recommended be placed around the island on Oct. 16,
1962, after the missiles were discovered, McNamara said: ``a quarantine is the
opposite of a pre-emptive action.''
Former Kennedy aides Arthur
Schlesinger Jr., Richard Goodwin and Ted Sorenson are also attending. Also there
is ex-CIA analyst Dino Brugioni, who analyzed the now famous American spy photos
of Soviet missiles in Cuba.
Among Cuban actors in that historic episode
who are expected to participate are 76-year-old Castro, then a young
revolutionary leader in power for just three years. Vice President Jose Ramon
Fernandez, a key organizer of the conference and a military commander at the
time of the crisis, will also attend.
For two days, the men who made
critical decisions during those nerve-racking days will study newly declassified
documents with officials from the National Security Archive in Washington, which
brought much of the historic paperwork to light.
``Together we will make
a new history out of an old history full of conflict that brought the world to
the brink of nuclear war,'' said Thomas Blanton, director of the international
research institute at George Washington University. ``This is a major act of
diplomacy ... it is a display of faith in dialogue.
The conference will
feature meetings in Havana on Friday and Saturday. The group will travel on
Sunday to sites related to the crisis, including a missile silo in the western
province of Pinar del Rio.
The crisis erupted in mid-October 1962 when
Kennedy learned that in Cuba there were Soviet nuclear warheads capable of
reaching American shores just 90 miles to the north. It was defused two weeks
later when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from
In honor of the late American president, several Kennedy
family members are attending the conference. They include Ethel Kennedy, widow
of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, the president's brother who was attorney general and
a key player in the crisis.
Khrushchev for Crisis
Associated Press - By ANITA
HAVANA (AP) - President Fidel Castro said on the eve of the 40th
anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
helped create the conflict by misleading President Kennedy - indicating that
there were no nuclear weapons on the communist island.
which came in an interview with ABC's ``20/20'' program, coincided with a
conference here bringing together Cubans and Americans who played roles during
the real life Cold War drama. ABC, which will broadcast the interview Friday,
made the transcript public Wednesday.
``He believed what Khrushchev told
him,'' Castro said during the interview, conducted this week in Havana.
``Therefore, Kennedy was misled. That was a very big mistake on the part of
Khrushchev ... one that we opposed vehemently.''
The crisis began in
mid-October 1962 as Kennedy became convinced that there were Soviet nuclear
warheads on the island just 90 miles south of theFlorida coast. Their discovery
brought the world to the edge of nuclear conflict.
Bush musters support to oust Saddam Hussein, former members of the Kennedy
administration are heading to the Cuba conference to revisit that earlier
Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and former special
aide Arthur Schlesinger Jr. are among those expected at the conference, aimed at
showing a lesser known view of the crisis: Cuba's. Castro is also
In his ABC interview with Barbara Walters, Castro said his
country did not agree to accept the missiles out of fear, and ``we would have
rather not had them in order to preserve the prestige'' of Cuba.
also said officials on the communist-run island did not like being considered
``the Soviet base in the Caribbean.''
Still, Castro indicated respect for
Khrushchev and his support of the Cuban revolution.
``Even though Nikita
was a bold man, he was a courageous man ... and I can make criticisms of him ...
of the mistakes he made. I have reflected a lot on that,'' Castro said. But
misleading Kennedy, the Cuban president said, ``was his main ...
The crisis, marking the Cold War's tensest moments, was defused
when Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba.
President Jose Ramon Fernandez, an organizer of the conference, was an army
commander when Castro put 400,000 soldiers in position to repel a possible
invasion of the island.
As Kennedy's words clicked onto the paper rolling
off the teletype machine at military headquarters Oct. 22, 1962, Fernandez knew
the Americans meant business.
``I had the impression that war was
probable,'' recalled the 79-year-old Fernandez, now a vice president in Castro's
government. ``I was also preparing myself to die, all the while hoping that I
would stay alive.''
Kennedy's message to the United States and the world
``Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established
the fact that a series of offensive missiles is now in preparation on that
imprisoned island,'' Kennedy said in his speech to the nation. ``The purpose of
these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability
against the Western Hemisphere.''
Earlier that day, about 2,500 relatives
of U.S. forces stationed at Guantanamo Bay were given 15 minutes to pack a bag
each before evacuated to Norfolk, Va.
``I was ordered to destroy papers
and help move ourselves elsewhere because obviously the ministry (of defense)
would be a target,'' Fernandez told The Associated Press this week.
Americans invited to the conference, including McNamara, Schlesinger, former
Kennedy speechwriters Richard Goodwin and Ted Sorensen and ex-CIA analyst Dino
Brugioni, will arrive Thursday.
Also attending are several Kennedy family
members, including Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, the president's
brother who was attorney general and a key player in the crisis.
with the gathering, Cuba will release some formerly classified documents about
the days known here as the Crisis of October.
The nonprofit National
Security Archive at George Washington University will also release newly
declassified American documents about the crisis.
During a similar
conference last year, Cuban organizers worked with the National Security Archive
to release a wealth of U.S. and Cuban documents about the unsuccessful
CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion.
The missile crisis conference will
feature seminars on Friday and Saturday. Participants will visit crisis-related
sites, including a former missile silo in the western province of Pinar del
Fernandez said he hoped new lessons would emerge for politicians and
military leaders, ``to never again take the world to the brink of nuclear
Cited to Make Opposite Points
New York Times - October 8,
2002 - By CHRISTOPHER MARQUIS
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 — President Bush and one
of his leading Democratic critics, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts,
both invoked the memory of 1962 Cuban missile crisis tonight to drive home
sharply divergent views of how to handle Iraq.
Mr. Bush contended that
the missile crisis underscored the importance of pre-emptive action against an
enemy, even in the absence of "final proof, the smoking gun."
President Kennedy said in October of 1962: `Neither the United States of America
nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and
offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live
in a world,' he said, `where only the actual firing of weapons represents a
sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril,' " Mr.
But Senator Kennedy said that President Kennedy, his brother,
had carefully avoided a pre-emptive assault against Cuba, instead imposing a
naval quarantine after the Soviet Union prepared sites there for nuclear
A "preventative military action," Senator Kennedy argued, was
ill advised both then and now.
"Might does not make right," Senator
Kennedy said tonight. "America cannot write its own rules for the modern world.
To attempt to do so would be unilateralism run amok."
The Cuban missile
crisis was one of the most harrowing episodes of the cold war. In October 1962,
American spy planes confirmed that the Soviets were constructing sites for
missiles able to reach the United States.
The Soviets denied the presence
of missiles in Cuba. President Kennedy and his staff discussed three options: an
invasion or air strikes, a quarantine, or a settlement through the United
In the end, President Kennedy took the middle road, enforcing a
naval blockade on Oct. 22. On Oct. 28, Premier Nikita S. Krushchev of the Soviet
Union backed down, ordering the missile sites dismantled, but only after
securing a secret pledge from Mr. Kennedy that he would not invade Cuba.