Published On: Tue, Oct 1st, 2019

World War 3: How US President warned Prime Minister of imminent global conflict | World | News

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a 13-day confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union in 1962, initiated by the discovery of ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The bitter situation began after Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev fulfilled Cuba’s request to place nuclear missiles on the island to deter a future invasion, in response to the presence of US Jupiter ballistic missiles strategically placed in Italy and Turkey. On October 20, the US President met with representatives and outlined two options, a full-scale invasion of Cuba, or a blockade to prevent any further weapon delivery.

Documents seen by reveal Cabinet minutes from October 23, revealing the latter decision was chosen by Kennedy, who later informed Macmillan.

The papers read: “The Prime Minister said that on the evening of Sunday, October 20, he had been warned by the United States Ambassador in London to expect a personal message from President Kennedy.

“This was the first imitation to him of the chain of events which had led to the imposition of the United States blockade of Cuba.

“In his first message, President Kennedy had reported evidence of a Soviet missile capability in Cuba, and had said that on his own responsibility he had decided to prevent any further built-up at sea and to demand the removal of this threat to the Western hemisphere.

John F Kennedy contacted Harold Macmillan

John F Kennedy contacted Harold Macmillan (Image: GETTY)

The US discovered ballistic missiles in Cuba

The US discovered ballistic missiles in Cuba (Image: WIKI)

Soviet retaliation in Berlin would lead to an escalation of world war

Cabinet notes

He recognised the seriousness of this step and the danger that action taken to contain the Cuban situation might have repercussions in Berlin.

“He had, however, felt it essential to demonstrate to the Soviet government that if they had counted on the weakness or irresolution they had miscalculated.”

The letters went on to explain why Kennedy had taken action without informing other NATO allies.

It continues: “President Kennedy had added that he regretted the lack of consultation, which had been due to the fact that firm evidence of the Soviet capability had only come to light in the course of the preceding week.

“He hoped, however, that in the further development of the crisis, the United States and United Kingdom governments would work closely together.

READ MORE: UK and US worked WITH Soviets on nuclear project, secret document reveals

Fidel Castro requested Soviet help

Fidel Castro requested Soviet help (Image: GETTY)

“A further and more detailed letter from President Kennedy had been received on October 21 and the United States Ambassador had provided information, although not in great detail, about the Soviet build-up.

“The most disturbing feature of this had been the identification of 21 medium-range ballistic missile sites and eight intermediate-range ballistic missile sites capable between them of covering the whole of the United States.”

The letter continues to discuss possible outcomes of the blockade.

It adds: “The Prime Minister said that in the course of October 21, he had considered various possible messages to President Kennedy, but had decided to wait for the text of his speech.

“When this had been received he had replied at once and expressed his understanding of the fierce reaction of American public opinion with which President Kennedy had to reckon.

Khrushchev was angered by US missiles in Turkey

Khrushchev was angered by US missiles in Turkey (Image: GETTY)

JFK agreed to remove some of the ballistic missiles

JFK agreed to remove some of the ballistic missiles (Image: GETTY)

“His letter had then dealt with Mr Khrushchev’s likely reaction if the Security Council resolutions were vetoed and if the General Assembly, as to be expected, failed to recommend any conclusive action.

“Mr Khrushchev might content himself with demanding the removal of American bases in Europe, or, he might act.

“In the Caribbean his obvious course would  be to escort Russian ships and force the US to fire first.”

However, it concludes with a grave warning over possible escalations.

It concludes: “If Mr Khrushchev decided to act elsewhere it might be in South-East Asia, in Iran, possibly in Turkey, but more likely Berlin.

World War 3 flashpoints

World War 3 flashpoints (Image: GETTY/DX)

“The obvious way to answer a blockade in Cuba would be a blockade elsewhere, but Soviet retaliation in Berlin would lead to an escalation of world war or to the holding of a conference.”

Thankfully, the situation was resolved in just a week.

On October 28, after much deliberation between the Soviet Union and Kennedy’s cabinet, the US President secretly agreed with Khrushchev to remove all missiles set in Turkey and possibly southern Italy.

When all offensive missiles and light bombers had been withdrawn from Cuba, the blockade was formally ended on November 21, 1962. 

A series of agreements reduced US-Soviet tensions for several years until both parties began to build their nuclear arsenal even further.

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