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Cuban missile crisis, 1962, value of photo intelligence,

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requirement for an end to the US blockage and for a promise from the US that it would not invade Cuba. The second Khrushchev letter added another, far more difficult demand:    President then stressed that if there were to be a solution, work had to cease on the missile bases, and the offensive weapons in Cuba had to be rendered inoperable and removed, with supervision of the removal under appropriate UN arrangements. The US in turn would lift the quarantine and would assure the Soviet Union that it would not invade Cuba.  
          
  You are worried over Cuba. You say that it worries you because it lies at a distance of 90 miles across the sea from the shores of the United States. However, Turkey lies next to us. Our sentinels are pacing up and down watching each other. Do you believe that you have the right to demand security for your country and the removal of such weapons that you qualify as offensive, while not recognizing this right for us?      
          
      The President then hinted at future US willingness to consider the missiles in Turkey, without explicitly so stating. "The effect of such a settlement," he wrote, "on easing world tensions would enable us to work toward a more general arrangement regarding `other armaments,' as proposed in your second letter which you made public." The President closed his reply by again stressing the imperative of an immediate Soviet halt to work on the MRBMs and IRBMs and rendering the weapons inoperable.10 
          
  This is why I make this proposal: We agree to remove those weapons from Cuba which you regard as offensive weapons. We agree to do this and to state this commitment in the United Nations. Your representatives will make a statement to the effect that the United States, on its part, bearing in mind the anxiety and concern of the Soviet state, will evacuate its analogous weapons from Turkey. Let us reach an understanding on what time you and we need to put this into effect....8     
          
      Attorney General Kennedy handed over a copy of the President's reply to Soviet Ambassador Dobrynin, stressing the President's belief that the substance of the Soviet response to this message would dictate swiftly whether the two superpowers would resolve the crisis or escalate to war.   
          
      On 28 October 1962, Khrushchev agreed to President Kennedy's terms: work would stop on the missile sites, and the weapons would be dismantled and withdrawn. The word arrived quickly as we continued to support preparations for US military action. There was tremendous exhilaration. The Intelligence Community and the military shifted gears, moving to the responsibility of monitoring Soviet dismantlement and withdrawal.  
          
 The US Replies       
          
 While the US missiles would eventually be withdrawn from Turkey, at the peak of the Cuban missile crisis the President rejected including them or any mention of them in the terms that would be set for the withdrawal of the Soviet missiles from Cuba. In the midst of the Executive Committee meeting on 27 October on the next step to be taken by the US, Attorney General Robert Kennedy proposed that the US reply to Khrushchev's first letter and not to the second. He actually drafted the reply, stating the terms we were willing to accept, plucking them from several often disparate Soviet messages. They were the terms on which the settlement ultimately was based.9   
       
   Monitoring Withdrawal    
       
   New orders from Moscow to the Soviet missile and bomber forces in Cuba were dispatched immediately. As early as 29 October, low-level reconnaissance flights brought back evidence that the MRBM missile erectors were no longer in their missile-ready firing positions. We would monitor every step of the Soviet withdrawal through photography, reports from
         
 The President's reply of 27 October opened on a positive note, welcoming Khrushchev's "desire to seek a prompt solution to the problem." The         
             
      

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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM
Last Updated: May 08, 2007 08:59 AM