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


Washington, October 31, 1962, 12:46 p.m.

1147. Subject: Cuba: New York Negotiations

1. General Considerations

Please be guided by the following in your New York negotiations whose entire purpose is to reach final solution, in framework of exchanges of letters between President and Khrushchev, of problem created by introduction by USSR of offensive weapons into Cuba. In spite of Kuznetsov's eagerness to discuss disarmament, bases, and other broader questions (USUN's 1547)(1) the present negotiation should not include issues beyond immediate objective, which is verified dismantling and removal of Soviet offensive weapons in Cuba at earliest possible date.

Your purpose will be to reach straightforward realistic solutions to practical problems along lines indicated below. We assume that in line with established Soviet doctrine, Kuznetsov's insistence on no physical inspection of dismantling and removal Soviet weapons is essentially non-negotiable. It is probable, therefore, that we shall have to rely on aerial surveillance and port-removal inspection to satisfy ourselves that missile bases are dismantled and weapons are removed from Cuba or destroyed.

While you should strive for as much pre-removal ground inspection as possible, the formula of post-removal ground inspection together with high and low aerial surveillance during both the dismantling period and the post-evacuation period should, if efficiently carried out, provide adequate evidence of removal and destruction and so could be accepted.

2. Definition of Offensive Weapons

The offensive weapons which the United States insists be removed from Cuba and not be further imported into Cuba are those enumerated in the Presidential Proclamation 3504 of October 23.(2) The list is as follows: Surface-to-surface missiles; bomber aircraft; bombs, air-to-surface rockets and guided missiles; warheads for any of the above weapons; mechanical or electronic equipment to support or operate the above items. Also, pursuant to authority granted in the Proclamation, the Secretary of Defense, in Special Warning (Notice to Mariners) No. 31, stated that the prohibition of surface-to-surface missiles covers a prohibition of missile propellants and chemical compounds capable of being used to power missiles.

Note that the definition includes short-range surface-to-surface missiles and surface-to-surface missiles designed for use at sea. Notice also that mechanical and electronic equipment to operate surface-to-surface missiles includes a wide variety of communications, supply and missile-launching equipment, including Komar class motor torpedo boats.

Suggest you start with wider definition, including supplement to Presidential Proclamation. Fall back position, on which we would insist, would be categories enumerated in Proclamation.

Not included in formal definition are Soviet troops and technicians. However, we should assume on basis Khrushchev letter of October 26(3) that "the necessity for the presence of [Soviet](4) military specialists in Cuba would disappear" along with the offensive weapons they are manning and protecting.

Also not included within the definition are fighter aircraft, and surface-to-air missiles. Also not included are storage sites or any petroleum products other than missile propellants. It would be desirable to have these items destroyed or removed as well, but the USG is not willing to pay a price to have them destroyed or removed.

3. Two-Phase Program

The US envisages two phases in the UN verification program, each requiring specific control measures:

(a) First Phase--This phase should begin immediately and would cover the period up to the Soviet report to the SC that they have dismantled and withdrawn proscribed weapons. Since the Communists will undoubtedly prove chary of UN observation of weapons withdrawal, as Kuznetsov has already indicated, we assume they are unlikely to accept on-site inspection during the period when weapons are being withdrawn. Therefore we probably will need to rely in practice, during the first stage, on (i) US and UN aerial reconnaissance and (ii) UN/ICRC inspection of incoming shipments.

(b) Second Phase--This phase would begin when the SC convened to receive the Soviet report on compliance and to authorize establishment of a UN on-site inspection system. During this period, verification of compliance would be accomplished through: (i) continued aerial reconnaissance; (ii) continued inspection incoming cargoes; and (iii) ground inspection. This phase would end when the SC has accepted the report of the SYG that offensive weapons have been removed from Cuba.

4. Aerial Reconnaissance

Systematic high and low aerial reconnaissance is essential. This is so particularly if surface inspection is limited or non-existent. The reconnaissance, or any aspect of it, can be done either by the US or by the UN. Our only insistence is that a job be done which is adequate to provide the USG with information sufficient to convince US that compliance is taking place.

We recognize that (unlike US) UN will wish to overfly Cuba only after explicit clearance by Cuban authorities.

US would of course need access to photos resulting from UN reconnaissance.

Two types of air surveillance should be considered--photographic (high and low) and visual monitoring by holding the aircraft in a pattern so as to maintain continuous air surveillance of missile transport movements.

The Canadian Government has offered to have Canadian pilots fly Canadian supplied RF-101 aircraft. USG endorses use of Canadians and RF-101s but recognizes that SYG will be reluctant to accept. Alternatively we could make available C-130s and within two-week period train air crews from one of the following: Mexico, Argentina, Chile or Colombia. Canada (4 crews) and Indonesia (10 crews) already have competent crews which would take only brief period to check out. There are four C-130 aircraft with the UN markings and high quality photographic equipment in Georgia now available to UN on request. In addition, we have sold C-130 aircraft to Australia and are currently in the midst of completing negotiation on providing C-130 aircraft to Argentina and Chile. The UN has been informed that USG prepared provide rapid (jet) transportation for C-130 crews politically acceptable to the UN from anywhere in the world.

Another highly attractive possibility would be for Mexico or Argentina to volunteer squadron of T-11s (C-45s) and crews which DOD believes would be fully capable to do kind of job we want. They have adequate high-quality camera equipment. Mexico has six aircraft and Argentina has comparable number. Also Sweden has made available for Congo operation two reconnaissance PT-9s (single-jet aircraft). It is understood that they have a number such aircraft fully equipped with photographic equipment.

Processing unit with US equipment could be readily provided to operate in Havana or at whatever place UN would wish to use as base of operations.

You should therefore reaffirm all this to SYG, strongly urging him develop a UN reconnaissance capability. Support of UN surveillance, however, should not be tied to US cessation of surveillance. Statements that "the US will reconsider its surveillance requirements based upon the effectiveness of UN operations" can be made, but we should do nothing to suggest that US determination to conduct air surveillance is necessarily limited by UN operations.

It should go without saying that to the extent no adequate substitute has been developed by the UN, the US high and low surveillance will continue throughout entire dismantling and withdrawal operation and as long thereafter as necessary to satisfy us that offensive weapons have been fully removed from Cuba.

5. Incoming Cargoes

As indicated Deptel 1136,(5) we prepared accept ICRC inspection incoming cargoes on all ships, of whatever flag, embarked from bloc ports. According to our projection, _____ ships now in transit or scheduled depart bloc ports shortly to arrive in Cuba during next three or four weeks. Number Red Cross inspectors required to do job will depend on whether inspection at sea or on shore. Most efficient use manpower would be port inspection at agreed ports. This would permit close inspection of vessels, one after another, without transit time required to shuttle between vessels at sea. Accordingly, hope port inspection agreeable to Cubans. If inspection done at ports, we estimate _____ personnel needed. If done on high seas, estimate _____ would be required. [Estimates to be supplied.]

We expect thorough inspection, including at least selective examination of cargoes abroad to assure that no weapons we consider offensive will enter Cuba. Inspection should provide for masters of incoming ships to notify their cargoes to UN inspectors well in advance of arrival at port. This would expedite checking and clearance and help make entire inspection process more effective.

We believe inspection of incoming cargoes should continue until entire verification process completed (i.e., through end of Phase Two), in order to give us assurance all offensive weapons withdrawn and related facilities dismantled. During this period, enforcement of quarantine would be suspended, but US ships would remain on duty stations. Incoming ships would not be stopped or searched by US, but we would keep a watching brief on all traffic, noting outbound missile-carrying ships and assisting UN inspectors in assuring they informed of all incoming traffic. US would thus be in position to renew immediately the enforcement of the quarantine if circumstances required such action.

6. Verification of Removal of Offensive Weapons

When Soviets prepared to say they have removed from Cuba the "weapons US considers offensive", a Security Council meeting would be called to authorize the Acting Secretary General to establish arrangements for verification. Executive organization operating in Cuba for this purpose is here referred to as UN/Cuba.

(a) Terms of Reference: UN/Cuba

UN teams should inspect on spot, after dismantling, those sites which identified by US as missile bases as any Cuban airport which could accommodate bombers, and any other area where we have reason to believe there may have been concealment of offensive weapons, including storage sites for nuclear warheads. Such teams should have unrestricted confidential communication facilities with their headquarters units, and free access to areas required for the performance of their duties. US will furnish to UN comprehensive list of locations to be covered.

(b) Number of Observers

The number of observers required to do job satisfactorily will depend on length of time permitted to accomplish task and on the extent of mobility. US would prefer to see such verification accomplished quickly. Assuming for political reasons Communists would prefer keep number UN inspectors relatively small, suggest UN consider possibility utilizing number of helicopters or small planes (which US prepared make available) to permit rapid transit inspection teams maximum number sites in minimum time. It appears to us that team of 50 or 60 men with adequate air transport could accomplish verification job within a week or two. Moreover, any UN aerial observers should participate in verification process.

(c) Composition

While we assume that probably only citizens of certain types of countries will be acceptable to Communists as sources of UN ground observers, it is important from our standpoint that eligibility be restricted to technically trained personnel of genuinely reliable nations who have demonstrated a reasonable objectivity during crisis. For example, we would wish to exclude UAR and Ghana citizens in light of distinctly "unneutral" statements made by their Delegates in Security Council meetings on Cuba. On criteria indicated, we would prefer nationals from Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Nigeria, India and Ireland. When it comes to UN air reconnaissance, it is probably not so important to have neutral personnel; Canadians and Argentines, for example, might prove acceptable.

7. Administration and Finance

(a) We greatly prefer that any and all of the UN operations that may be created (air reconnaissance group, port inspectors, ground inspection teams) should operate under executive direction of SYG. To the extent the International Committee of the Red Cross is involved, it should (as indicated Deptel 1136) operate as executive agent of SYG. We understand ICRC has operated in similar capacity at UN request in checking compliance with Geneva Convention in US POW camps in Korea. ICRC has acted also as executive agent for High Commissioner for Refugees in Congo.

(b) We believe financing all verification measures should come under $2,000,000 provision in regular UN budget for small-scale peace and security operations. If total cost likely to exceed one million dollars, financing problem will need to be reviewed in the light of the then U.S. position on financing UN peace-and-security operations.(6)


1 Document 117. Back

2 For text, see Public Papers of the President of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, pp. 809-811. Back

3 Document 84. Back

4 All brackets are in the source text. Back

5 Document 113. Back

6 Following a telephone conversation later in the day between officials at the Department of State and the Mission at the United Nations changes were made in sections 3-6 of this instruction. A copy of telegram 1153 to New York at 11:09 p.m. on October 31, which enumerated the revisions, is in the Supplement. (Department of Defense, OSD Historical Office, Secretary of Defense Cable Files, Cuba, Oct. 25-31, 1962) Back

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.56311/10-3162. Secret; Niact. Drafted by McNaughton and Cleveland and approved by the President at the 14th meeting of the Executive Committee (Document 123). Repeated to Moscow.

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