The Cuban Crisis, September–November 1962

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Map Code: Ax00729

By September 1962, the US government had gathered sufficient intelligence to confirm that Russia was building long and medium range nuclear missile bases in Cuba. These missiles could reach continental America within minutes. Kennedy finally organized a quarantine of ships travelling into Cuba, blocking any that were carrying weapons. The term ‘quarantine’ was used, as the term ‘blockade’ was considered by military law to be a declaration of war. The quarantine was announced on 22 October and the US sent picket ships and aircraft carriers into Cuban coastal waters, where they prevented further Soviet missile shipments. Kennedy also demanded that the USSR withdraw its missiles. Russia refused to comply, stating that the missiles were for defensive purposes, and the world was on the brink of global nuclear war. Russia finally capitulated on 28 October. By November both superpowers had removed missiles, including the US who had nuclear bases in Turkey.

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