Cuban Missle Crisis
Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations


Washington, October 26, 1962, 5:16 p.m.

1105. For Stevenson. Subject: Cuba: Talks with Acting Secretary General U Thant.

At beginning of first meeting with SYG you should take occasion restate basic US position that early removal nuclear missiles and other offensive weapons from Cuba is the essence of the matter. We understand that the Secretary General is proposing first a discussion of some form of standstill or freeze (covering arms shipments to Cuba, the build up of offensive weapons in Cuba, and our quarantine action), to be followed by broader talks on peaceful settlement of the larger issue created by Soviet introduction of missiles and other offensive weapons into an island just off our shores.

While we are willing to handle matter in two stages, we would emphasize at the start that the build up must stop, and the weapons must be removed before too long and that these things must be done under inspection arrangements that insure against secrecy and cheating. We would emphasize further that the OAS quarantine action will not be lifted until the threat which provoked it is removed.

Within this framework of policy, following is for your guidance in early discussions with SYG and Soviet delegates.

1. We understand procedural state of affairs to be as follows:

a. Security Council has adjourned sine die and all efforts will be focused for next two or three days on US-USSR discussions through or with Thant.

b. Both U.S. and USSR (not at this stage Cuba) have agreed to meet with Thant for discussion "modalities".

c. What SYG calls discussion of "modalities" is not an attempt to solve basic problem (which from our standpoint is removal of offensive weapons from Cuba) at one stroke, but must at least attempt to achieve a condition which would involve (i) no more offensive arms being delivered to Cuba, (ii) no further build-up of missile sites or bomber facilities, and (iii) any existing Cuban nuclear strike capability being kept inoperable.

d. Achievement of such a standstill will require a substantial administrative effort by SYG with assistance of a number of countries, to put UN in position to guarantee that standstill would be effective while negotiations designed to remove threat to Western Hemisphere could be brought to a conclusion.

2. The problem of "modalities" divides naturally into two parts, (a) UN control of shipments to Cuba and (b) UN observation of Cuban compliance with suspension of further build-up with safeguards to ensure inoperability of any nuclear strike capacity.

3. Control of Shipments to Cuba:

a. FYI. The US Fleet would remain approximately as deployed at the present time. US Naval Force would maintain surveillance to discover any attempt to off-load or trans-ship at locations other than designated UN ports. Responsible US Fleet Commander in the area would report any violation he might observe to Washington which would bring violation to attention of SYG or head of UN observation operation. It would have to be understood by SYG from the outset that US surveillance continues and latent force is in background. End FYI.

b. All Cuba-bound ships would be required to enter Cuba at ports designated by the UN. On present basis, sea traffic to Cuba consists of one or two ships arriving per day.

c. UN inspectors would be stationed at those ports in adequate numbers. With necessary cooperation Cuban authorities they would inspect arriving ships of all nationalities to verify the presence or the absence of any arms as defined by SYG. FYI. A list of "prohibited material" presently included in Presidential Proclamation and supplementary orders under it will be provided for your guidance in discussing this point. End FYI. These UN inspectors would be given full access to all such ships.

4. UN observers would be stationed in the main military and civilian airfields in Cuba. Their mission would be to:

a. examine incoming cargo shipments to verify presence or absence of offensive weapons or components thereof, and

b. assure grounding of bomber aircraft.

5. Observers would be stationed in adequate numbers to ensure no further construction or improvements of MRBM or IRBM sites, and to ensure that any existing missiles are kept inoperable.

6. FYI. Preliminary Department of Defense estimates would require close to 500 persons for the three tasks identified in paragraphs 3, 4, and 5. End FYI.

7. Inspectors to be provided under this procedure must be of such technical competence as to insure that they are able in fact to identify items of offensive military equipment, and to carry out control functions at airports and missile sites. FYI. Not only must inspectors be physically placed to observe what is there, they must also have the authority to observe separation of components of the missile system to ensure that the missiles are inoperable. End FYI. While many of the personnel would in practice be performing administrative functions, several dozen well-trained technical people would be required and number of countries from which they could come is limited.

Dependable first-rate personnel for this operation will be essential, and US should have a strong voice in their selection. Advance preparation of technical teams would include examination of US advice as to where to go and what to look for. Full and free access for UN teams throughout island should be assured. FYI. Quality and political reliability of inspectors would be key to any inspection system. Likelihood that Soviets will permit real inspection their site is so remote that it would be unwise to concede on quality and reliability in return for paper agreement on access to site. End FYI.

8. Violations or suspected violations of agreed arrangements observed by that UN observer team will be immediately notified to the SYG, and would be passed by him to the parties concerned. "All's well" reports should be made around the clock at frequent intervals (every 2 hours); the absence of such reports would be a signal for immediate surveillance of the site by the United States. The US will, of course, retain the right to reactivate quarantine measures or take other necessary action if agreed arrangements are violated.

9. Legal and parliamentary status in the United Nations of arrangements agreed between the parties directly concerned can only be worked out when it is possible to see what kind of a UN operation would be involved. Security Council action would probably be useful at least to place at SYG's disposal the resources he would require for any substantial UN operation.

10. FYI. During talks on standstill arrangements we do not think it would be useful to start process of bargaining on such wider issues, or on possible terms of final peaceful settlement. End FYI.


Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.3722/10-2662. Confidential; Priority. Drafted by Cleveland and cleared in draft by Rusk, U. Alexis Johnson, Chayes, Martin, McCloy, Stevenson, and Nitze. Repeated to Moscow.

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