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


New York, October 31, 1962, 10:50 p.m.

1581. Subject: Cuba. Dept pass White House. McCloy had one hour mtg with Kuznetsov today.(1) After exchange of pleasantries, McCloy noted U Thant and his entire party leaving Havana 4:30 p.m. today, and according our info there were difficulties with Castro. While we understood Sov reluctance admit inspection on ground before weapons removed, which might reveal secret technology, US would have to continue aerial surveillance starting tomorrow, and until verification by UN arranged. Most dangerous situation would arise if our planes were to be shot at or downed. We prepared to turn aerial surveillance over to UN, but so long as no adequate UN verification existed US would continue its own flights. Our photographs of day before yesterday did not indicate any marked progress in dismantling, indeed indicated some further construction, although we realized not all sites may have received appropriate orders. We hoped photographs after tomorrow would show such progress.

Kuznetsov observed all anti-aircraft weapons were in Cuban hands. McCloy said we had thought sophisticated weapons were in Soviet hands. Kuznetsov repeated all anti-aircraft weapons were in Cuban hands. McCloy reiterated most dangerous situation would arise as result US surveillance planes being shot at or downed.

Kuznetsov then said President and Khrushchev had committed themselves to certain steps and it was his and McCloy's job see that arrangements be made for carrying out those steps. Dismantling of relevant facilities would be finished in couple of days, probably by Nov 2 or 3, although he not familiar with details. McCloy asked what he meant by dismantling. Did this include destruction buildings and emplacements? Kuznetsov said he did not know details. As to time required for removal of what US called offensive weapons, that would depend on number of ships available, which in turn depended on US position re quarantine, because if no Sov ships were able go to Havana, removal would obviously be protracted. McCloy observed he believed Sovs would have no difficulty getting enough ships to Havana for purpose of removal offensive weapons. Kuznetsov continued verification arrangements must be worked out with Castro; as to USSR, it prepared fulfill its obligations.

Kuznetsov then said that number other problems must be discussed so as to create a situation precluding recurrence of what happened this time. Suggested McCloy think about them so as to have discussion those problems at later date. Kuznetsov said under U Thant proposal, USSR had fulfilled its part, i.e., it refrained from sending ships to quarantine area and from sending arms to Cuba. Thus it had also met US desires. On other hand, U Thant's proposal also provided for lifting quarantine, but so far US Govt had agreed to suspend quarantine only for two days. Another problem was that of assurances to Cuba that no invasion would be launched from US or Latin American countries, that no preparations for invasion would take place in territory of US or LA's and that no organization of subversive activities by refugees against Cuba would take place in US or LA's. Important make clear that Cuban people could live in security and peace. President-Khrushchev exchange indicated some assurances should be given to Cuba against subversion and interference in its internal affairs.

McCloy responded he could not tell definitely US attitude on these points; however, Kuznetsov's statement of problems welcome and we would express our views on them at appropriate time. Problem of exiles ticklish, since they anxious make Cuba free so that it could do what it wanted do and be free of pressures by Castro. It would be difficult to control their thoughts. Organizing refugees into units was one thing, but control of their thoughts was a different matter. We could not get into a position of guaranteeing support for Castro, particularly in view Cuba now center of infection of subversive and sabotage activities against Latin American countries as demonstrated by recent events in Venezuela. McCloy then stressed main problem at this time was removal of offensive weapons from Cuba. When this done atmosphere for discussion other problems, including test ban and disarmament, would be much better. Kuznetsov agreed but commented it difficult define defensive and offensive weapons since US called its weapons at foreign bases defensive, although those weapons were same as weapons USSR had placed in Cuba. Suggested however that discussion this subject would serve no useful purpose at this time and that McCloy and he deal with practical matters before them to make arrangements which would preclude recurrence present situation.

McCloy inquired whether USSR thought ICRC would act as agent of UN. Kuznetsov replied definitely yes. Re Kuznetsov's remark USSR had done something under U Thant proposal, McCloy pointed out it had been USSR who had created this situation in first place by introducing offensive weapons Cuba and pointing them at our hearts. It impossible negotiate while gun was on table and therefore removal those weapons was primary problem. As to definition offensive weapons, US had made clear what it meant and Sovs knew it.

Kuznetsov then inquired re US views on what if any UN presence would be required after removal of relevant weapons completed. President's message to Khrushchev contained two points relating to this problem, which needed clarification. McCloy replied he had not given much thought to what would be required after removal completed, but he did not think that any interminable UN presence would be needed. We would give this matter further consideration.

Kuznetsov suggested thought be given to procedure for handling Cuban item in Security Council. Noting USSR had no fixed views on this point as yet, wondered whether might not be possible have a joint US/USSR statement or separate statements by two Govts with Security Council taking note of such statement or statements and appealing to all states to facilitate implementation arrangements. McCloy responded he no UN expert and pointed out Stevenson rather than he US Rep in UN. His own function was merely to coordinate US policy on Cuban problem. Kuznetsov said that his assignment was to assist Acting SYG in resolving Cuban problem as speedily as possible and Zorin was USSR spokesman in UN. McCloy expressed hope Castro would be less recalcitrant and observed US and Sovs might find themselves united vis-a-vis Castro. Kuznetsov smiled.

At one point early in conversation Kuznetsov said Mikoyan arriving NY 2 or 3 p.m. Nov 1 and leaving NY shortly after noon Nov 2. Mikoyan would like meet with McCloy and extended invitation to dinner Nov 1. McCloy said he would of course make himself available for meeting with Mikoyan, but not quite sure whether he had any prior engagement for tomorrow night. Would give definite reply first thing tomorrow morning after checking calendar. Subsequently, after talking with Secretary, McCloy confirmed he would be available for dinner.


1 Gilpatric's 2-page handwritten notes on this meeting are in Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD(C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Verification of US-USSR Agreements re Cuba, Gilpatric Notes. Back

Source: USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-001, October-November Meetings. Confidential. Drafted by Akalovsky and concurred in by McCloy.

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