This day in 1962

marked the official end of the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to the removal of the missiles from Cuba in return for reciprocal American action in Turkey and a guarantee of Cuban territorial sovereignty.   In London, my parents breathed a sigh of relief and stopped whitewashing and taping up the windows….  In short, the world stepped back from the brink, heaved a sigh of relief and got on with life.

Behind the scenes however, things were a little different. In Europe, there was outrage – not at Kennedy’s handling of the Russians, but at having been kept in the dark about the negotiations. In Cuba, Castro fulminated at Soviet weakness and perfidy in abandoning the Cuban revolution to the mercies of the Yankee imperialists. (This actually engendered an interesting postscript to the crisis – one which I’ll deal with in another post). In Moscow, Kremlin hardliners like Brezhnev and Kosygin lambasted Khrushchev’s approach. (Two years later they forced him from power and launched the Soviet Union on a period of significant military expansion).

Most significantly though, it became obvious to thinking people on both sides of the Iron Curtain that some controls and checks on nuclear weapons were essential. The Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 was one of the best results of this, together with the setting up of the Moscow-Washington hotline.


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