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


Washington, November 6, 1962, 9:50 a.m.

Ball reported the Secretary's conversation to Bundy(1) saying the Secretary suggested the three of them sort this thing out and decide what we want to do. Ball is reluctant because we also have McCone and Bobby. Bundy said that Bobby was away today and the President doesn't get back until the middle of the afternoon. It doesn't seem complicated to him, but he would be glad to sit down with Ball and Bob. Ball said he was concerned as 90% of them might be at sea by tonight. Bundy said we only have to say "We know you are going to sea." Whatever happens, let it happen at sea. They won't cross the Atlantic overnight. All we have to do today is to point out the rapid departure and emphasize the speed in the verification procedure. Ball thought the farther out to sea they get the more difficult it would be for psychological reasons.

Bundy thought rather than have the Executive Committee meeting, he would like to have a clear sense that Ball, the Secretary, Bob and Bundy know what we want to do and check it out with the President; then proceed on that basis.

Ball told him that Bob thought we ought to make immediate representation to Kuznetsov; that since they are leaving, it is urgent to get a neutral observer on board. The easiest way to do it is to take a US ship alongside, and if they won't do it, would we take a Soviet ship to do it. We ought to have someone alongside to take a picture. Bundy asked if they were willing to have a US ship alongside and Ball replied they talked like they were prepared to do it. We could also get good photographs of the cargo. These missiles are not crated; they are under tarps, so that it is pretty good from that point of view. Also if we could get the tarp rolled back to make sure they are not duds, and take some pictures. Bundy would be inclined to take up Kuznetsov on his offer yesterday for UN ships alongside and if we can't count through the tarps ask to see under them. Bundy will check this out with Bob and the President and call Ball back.(2) Bundy said he did not get the impression from the conversation that they talked hard about the danger of the MIG business. He suggested that Ball go into that with Ros--he said he meant the MIGs scramble. He will report back to Ball after talking with Bob.

1 In this telephone conversation, November 6, 9:45 a.m., Rusk suggested that since McNamara could not attend a meeting, Ball, Bundy, and McNamara should work out the policy for verification of missiles leaving on Soviet ships that day. (Ibid.) Back

2 Bundy telephoned Ball at 10 a.m. to report that McNamara agreed to Ball's suggestion. Bundy could not reach the President, but he expected that Kennedy would call when he arrived at Hyannisport. Bundy suggested Ball proceed and promised to call after talking to the President. (Ibid.) Bundy called Ball at 10:25 a.m. to say that the President agreed, but "he would like to get a little neutrality on board if it could work." Bundy thought it would be too complicated, and Ball agreed it would be "unrealistic" to try to get neutral observers on board Soviet ships. Both men concluded that the only plan was to get alongside the Soviet ships, "haggle from there." The President wanted Gilpatric to do the haggling in New York. (Ibid.) Back

Source: Department of State, Ball Files: Lot 74 D 272, Telephone Conversations--Cuba. No classification marking.

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