U.S. Department of State
For Immediate Release:
April 4, 1997
The United States and the Soviet Union came closer to nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis than at any other time, but until now only parts of the full historical record of this most dangerous confrontation of the cold war have been available. The declassification of many government documents as well as accounts by and interviews with key participants previously illuminated aspects of the crisisparticularly the so called "thirteen days" between October 16, 1962, when President Kennedy was advised of the existence of offensive missiles in Cuba and October 28 when Soviet Chairman Khrushchev agreed in principle to dismantle the missilesbut the volume being released today, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, Volume XI, Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath, provides the most comprehensive record of the entire episode. The October 16-28 crisis is documented on an hour-by-hour basis in unparalleled detail, and all the Kennedy-Khrushchev correspondence on Cuba is printed as well as accounts of meetings among the President and his closest advisers (especially the high-level Executive Committee meetings). Added to these documents are accounts of meetings with Soviet officials and key U.S. allies, important finished intelligence, contingency papers that the President and his advisers discussed, and transcripts of tape recordings of two of the President's meetings where no written record exists.
In addition to its intensive documentation of the decision-making process that led Kennedy to impose the quarantine of Cuba, another major distinctive feature of the volume is its placement of the Cuban Missile Crisis in a broader context. The tense U.S.-Soviet confrontation over "offensive" Soviet IL-28 bombers in Cuba, which has not been much studied, is covered in detail. The record of the long and difficult U.S.-Soviet negotiations to try to reach an understanding on mutually agreeable obligations and verification procedures to resolve the crisis is also presented for the first time in a comprehensive and coherent way. In the end, as these documents show, there was no formal U.S.-Soviet understanding on Cuba. The Soviets removed the missiles and the bombers and promised in confidential discussions with senior U.S. officials gradually to reduce Soviet military personnel in Cuba. In return, the United States lifted the quarantine, indicated that missiles would eventually be removed from Turkey, and gave limited assurances that the United States would not invade Cuba. This failure to resolve the question of what other Soviet weapons and how many Soviet troops should remain in Cuba caused subsequent problems for later U.S. Presidents.
The last third of the volume covers 1963, a year in which U.S.-Soviet tension over Cuba is just one of a number of issues that have not previously been well documented. There is a very full exposition of U.S. policy on covert operations against Cuba. The Kennedy administration's efforts to use refugees and exiles more efficiently against Castro, as well as U.S. attempts to bring tighter economic pressure against Cuba, are documented. The record of an exploration of a possible accommodation with Castro in the second half of 1963, which was cut short by Kennedy's assassination, is revealed.
This volume contains more than 50 documents from the Central Intelligence Agency, including those concerning the discovery of the missiles, material on overhead reconnaissance of Cuba, intelligence assessments of the Soviet threat in Cuba, and Director of Central Intelligence McCone's records of high-level meetings. There are extensive CIA and other intelligence-related documents on an internal debate within the Kennedy administration during 1963 on how best to employ covert operations against Castro's Cuba. There is also a representative selection of intelligence community estimates on the viability, strength, and weakness of the Castro regime as well as assessments of the future of Cuban-Soviet cooperation. The volume is the result of unprecedented cooperation between the historians of the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency. No previous volume in the Foreign Relations series has contained so many CIA documents dealing with so many aspects of the contribution of the intelligence community to the making of foreign policy.
A companion volume, Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, Volume X, Cuba, January 1961-September 1962, covering the first 20 months of the Kennedy administration's Cuban policy, including the Bay of Pigs invasion and Operation Mongoose, will be published in the summer of 1997. In addition, a microfiche supplement to Volumes X and XI, which will include additional material on Cuba and the Missile Crisis, is scheduled for later release.
The Office of the Historian has prepared a summary of the volume. For further information, contact David S. Patterson, General Editor of the Foreign Relations series, at (202) 663-1127 (fax: (202) 663-1289; e-mail email@example.com) or Edward C. Keefer at (202) 663-1131. Copies of the volume may be purchased at the Government Printing Office.
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