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Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 – how close we came to World War 3

World War 3: How ‘Armageddon Letter’ brought world within minutes of nuclear conflict  https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1153499/world-war-3-cold-war-us-soviet-union-kennedy-khrushchev-cuban-missile-crisis-spt 

WORLD WAR 3 would have almost certainly started had it not been for the bold decisions of world leaders on what would come to be known as Black Saturday.

By CALLUM HOARE, Jul 15, 2019 Most historians agree the Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world has come to full-scale nuclear war. The two-week standoff in 1962 erupted when the Soviet Union responded to a US missile deployment in Turkey and Italy a year earlier by sending their own weapons to Cuba – just miles from the US state of Florida. US President John F. Kennedy sent U-2 spy planes to the Caribbean island, which produced clear photographic evidence of the arrival of medium-range (SS-4) and intimidate-range (R-14) ballistic missiles.

He immediately announced the US would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered and created a blockade in the surrounding waters until the missiles were dismantled and returned to the Soviet Union.

The tense situation then snowballed out of control as the Kremlin traded words with the White House and the prospect of war looked increasingly likely.

“The United States may find it necessary within a very short time in its interest and that of its fellow nations in the Western Hemisphere to take whatever military action may be necessary.”

On October 27 – remembered as Black Saturday by the White House – Khrushchev received a letter from Castro known as the Armageddon Letter, which was interpreted as urging the use of nuclear force in the event of an attack on Cuba.

It read: “I believe the imperialists’ aggressiveness is extremely dangerous and if they actually carry out the brutal act of invading Cuba in violation of international law and morality, that would be the moment to eliminate such danger forever through an act of clear legitimate defence, however harsh and terrible the solution would be.”

Later that day, the US Navy dropped a series of “signalling depth charges” on a Soviet B-59 submarine unaware it was armed with a nuclear-tipped torpedo.

As the submarine was too deep to monitor any radio traffic,  the captain, Valentin Grigorievitch Savitsky, decided that a war might have already started and wanted to launch a nuclear torpedo.

The decision to launch these required the agreement of all three officers on board, but one of them – Vasily Arkhipov –  objected and so the nuclear launch was narrowly averted.

On the same day, a US Air Force U-2 spy plane was struck by an S-75 Dvina surface-to-air missile launched from Cuba, downing the jet and killing the pilot.

Kennedy had earlier claimed he would order an attack on such sites if fired upon, but he decided not to act unless another attack was made.

It was later learned discovered the move was spearheaded by Raul Castro, brother to the communist leader.

Kennedy finally decided to bring the situation to an end by secretly agreeing to remove all missiles in Turkey and possibly Italy too, in exchange for Khrushchev removing all missiles in Cuba.

However, at this point, Khrushchev knew things the US did not.

First, that the shooting down of the U-2 by a Soviet missile violated direct orders from Moscow, and Cuban antiaircraft fire against other US reconnaissance aircraft also violated direct orders from Khrushchev to Castro.

Second, the Soviets already had 162 nuclear warheads on Cuba that the US did not then believe were there as well as scores of nuclear-tipped subs.

Third, the Soviets and Cubans on the island would almost certainly have responded to an invasion by using those nuclear weapons.

The Soviet leader knew he was losing control and came out of the incident with his pride in check.

July 15, 2019 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, history, Reference

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