Cuban Missle Crisis
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Ball) and the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)


Washington, October 25, 1962, 12:30 a.m.

Bundy--We have now written, and everybody but you have signed off on it, and I hope you won't object, a message to the Chairman(1) telling him it's your fault and not ours on the basic ground that they misled us--the thing that we think we ought to get back into his chest--. The word of the Soviet Government is what caused the trouble. David Cline [Klein] is arranging to send it out. Do you want to hear it?

Ball--I would like to hear it. I'll tell you about my conversation with Stevenson.(2)

Bundy--How did it go?

Ball--With Stevenson?

Bundy--Yes, mine is in the typewriter.

Ball--The situation with Stevenson is that he finally got Thant out of bed and Thant has agreed to send a message to K which he probably can't do tonight because of the communications but will do it first thing in the morning.

Bundy--Why don't we offer him some communications?

Ball--I think it is probably a matter of his composing it.

Bundy--Nothing is going to happen tonight.

Ball--He says that first thing in the morning he will send the message to K saying that he, pending some consideration of his proposal, he would hope that K will keep his ships away and prevent a confrontation because he thinks there is a chance the Americans are prepared to discuss the modalities of a negotiation.

Bundy--Does that pin us to anything?

Ball--I raised this with Stevenson and in the first place this is not a public thing, this is a private--

Bundy--It will be public soon enough.

Ball--He doesn't.

Bundy--U Thant is on and we are not on on this?

Ball--That's it.

Bundy--Stevenson may go down the drain.

Ball--He just gives his impression. I think it's worth a play.

Bundy--It's worth a try.

Ball--I asked Stevenson to try to get the thing from him in the morning and shoot it down to us as soon as he can. I think I would have put it up in tougher terms, but that's the way it went.

Bundy--Yes, I think the main thing is that Adlai should know what he has sent in the morning.

Ball--I asked him to get it from Thant first thing and let us know, and he said he would and I hope Thant doesn't give too much of an impression of our willingness, but in any event it's just Thant giving an impression.

Bundy--Bundy reads reply to K.

Ball--There is only one very minor point, but I think it might be a major one. That is we use these offensive weapons; actually, my understanding in the conversation with Gromyko, that Gromyko was explicit that they had no weapons that could reach the US.

Bundy--He didn't say it that way.

Ball--I got this from the Secretary.

Bundy--He didn't say it. At least it did not appear in any transcript we had.

Ball--This may have been given by Dobrynin.

Bundy--It is true that Dobrynin has said things. I think this language is more precise in the case than we can document to the Chairman.

Ball--Well, of course his answer will be that they are not offensive.

Bundy--Well, he never said that actually.

Ball--Well, except that this was the implication of what was said by--

Bundy--Then change it to "such as long range nuclear missiles."

Ball--Yes, I think we can do that. It takes it out of that dialectical argument as to what's offensive and what isn't.

Bundy--"Such weapons as long range nuclear missiles."


Bundy--That doesn't let us off the bombers. "Such weapons as (we don't want quite long range) nuclear missiles?"

Ball--I think that would be all right.

Bundy--"Of considerable range?" I don't know George; I have cleared it with everybody else; I think we had better leave it as it is. The point is clear enough.

Ball--Yes. We will deliver that tonight then.

Bundy--It'll be along. Klein is handling that.

Ball--The only thing that concerns me about the Stevenson thing is that he has probably given the impression to U Thant that we will go further than we will go. That's what worries me.

Bundy--I don't know how to advise you on that other than to say that we probably will not go further than we will go.

Ball--If it indicates a weakness in relation to K that will create another element of miscalculation.

Bundy--If he will hold off his ships, then the Americans are interested in the modalities?


Bundy--Has Stevenson showed him our answer?

Ball--No. That is reserved for tomorrow morning.

Bundy--It would seem to me that you should say to Adlai that nothing in, from the point of view of us in Washington, any message to K should be inconsistent with that message.

Ball--I think I will get hold of Adlai first thing in the morning and let him go over and talk to Thant.

Bundy--If Adlai knows early in the morning that he must not sign the US to anything that would make that letter impossible without checking back with us.

Ball--I think that's the way to leave it.


1 See Document 68. Back

2 A memorandum of Ball's conversation with Stevenson at 12:20 a.m. is in Department of State, Ball Papers: Lot 74 D 272, Telcons--Cuba. See the Supplement. Back

Source: Department of State, Ball Papers: Lot 74 D 272, Telcons--Cuba. No classification marking.

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