The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

Cuba became communist after Fidel Castro led a communist revolution in 1959 and Castro took control of all American property. The USA imposed economic sanctions, so Cuba established friendly relations with the USSR and began trading with them instead.

President John F Kennedy used Cuban exiles to try and invade the country. This was known as 'The Bay of Pigs Invasion' and was a humiliating failure for Kennedy.

Castro asked the USSR for help in case America invaded again, so Khrushchev began secretly placing Soviet missiles in Cuba. He hoped that this would discourage another US invasion and he believed he may be able to use the missiles as a 'bargaining chip' to persuade the US to remove NATO missiles in Turkey.

A U2 spy plane photographed the missiles in Cuba. 'Hawks' within the US army and EXCOMM urged Kennedy to launch surgical airstrikes on Cuba, but Kennedy decided to set up a naval blockade instead, telling Khrushchev to remove the missiles or risk war.

Khrushchev announced that Soviet ships would break through the US blockade. He stated that the USSR were willing to use nuclear weapons if war began. Kennedy rose the US military alert to DEFCON 2 so they were prepared for war.

Khrushchev then wrote two letters to Kennedy. The first said that he would remove the missile in Cuba if Kennedy promised not to invade Cuba. The second said that NATO missiles must be removed from Turkey as part of the deal.

Publicly, Kennedy agreed to the demand of Khrushchev's first letter. However, in secret he sent his brother, Robert Kennedy, to tell the Soviet ambassador to the US, that he would remove the missiles in Turkey if the agreement was kept a secret.

Khrushchev agreed to the deal and removed the missiles from Cuba. Nuclear war had been averted.

In some ways, Khrushchev gained from the crisis:

In some ways, Kennedy gained from the crisis:

Other consequences: