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


New York, November 7, 1962, 12:45 a.m.

1660. Subject: Cuba. Eyes only for Secretary. Dept pass White House. Stevenson, Gilpatric and Yost had a five and half hour mtg with Kuznetsov, Zorin and Mendelevich today. Fol summary based on uncleared memcon.(1)

1. ICRC inspection. Stevenson informed Sovs US not prepared agree to employment Sov ship and preferred UN chartered neutral ship, i.e., Swedish vessel available in Carribean area. Noted ICRC would verify all Sov flag ships, Sov chartered ships, bloc ships, and bloc chartered ships. Kuznetsov argued at length Sovs could speak only for their own ships and perhaps Sov chartered ships, but could not speak for any other country, since that would be violation sovereignty those countries. Claimed US approach this problem at variance with Pres's Oct 23 message,(2) which spoke of "your" i.e., Sov ships only. Stevenson explained quarantine against offensive weapons imposed on all shipping to Cuba regardless of nationality and US willing replace quarantine temporarily ICRC verification. Kuznetsov claimed quarantine illegal and USSR could not be expected assist US in making arrangements which would be substitution for it. Discussion this subject concluded with Stevenson saying if Sovs refused apply ICRC verification to all vessels with bloc cargoes, US would have to continue use quarantine with respect all ships other than Sov. Kuznetsov responded USSR agreed to ICRC "observation" Sov Cuba-bound ships and if US wished use quarantine for other ships, that its own business.

After further exchange re nationality ship to carry ICRC team, Kuznetsov admitted Sov original proposal had been to use either Sov or neutral ship. Finally indicated neutral ship would probably be satisfactory and agreed give USUN final word shortly. (Subsequently phoned to confirm Swedish vessel OK and ask name and location.)

2. Inspection procedure outgoing Sov ships. Stevenson suggested Sovs give US schedule shipment 42 missiles Kuznetsov had told had been or were in Cuba, as well as time and place for rendezvous with US Navy ships for verification purposes. He outlined verification procedure as follows: Depending upon operational conditions, presence of missiles on board Sov ships would be verified either from US vessel or unarmed helicopter through visual observation and photography; one or two missiles should be sufficiently exposed so as to identify them as such but without revealing technical specifications. Photography necessary for purpose of verifying number outgoing missiles. Kuznetsov referred to list outgoing Sov ships he had given Stevenson yesterday(3) and said his understanding was those ships were carrying what US called offensive arms, including missiles. Had no info re ships and cargoes after Nov 7. Noted prompt action required since one ship already left Havana. Re use of helicopters, observed this new point but said it would be communicated to Sov Govt. Promised prompt reply.(4) Gilpatric and Kuznetsov agreed exchange call signals both Sov ships and US Navy vessels concerned, and masters would arrange between themselves time and place rendezvous.

3. Removal of warheads. Stevenson suggested Sovs furnish number of warheads and schedule their removal, following pattern envisaged for missiles. Said verification procedure for missiles could be applied to warheads as well, with one difference, i.e., Geiger counters should be placed close enough to warhead containers to detect radio active material therein. Gilpatric noted we assumed warheads would be transported in such containers as would not reveal nature of their contents, and we did not ask that they be opened.

Kuznetsov replied he could only repeat what he had said yesterday on subject of warheads, and went on rehashing arguments he had advanced yesterday, stressing that US complicating matters by raising additional questions while USSR honestly conducting negots and intended scrupulously fulfill its obligations with respect removal what Pres called offensive weapons and all equipment related thereto. In response to further pressing by Stevenson and Gilpatric, Kuznetsov said he regretted say Sov and US views on question warheads entirely different. Stevenson and Gilpatric stressed vital importance question removal warheads, which essential element offensive weapons, and need revert to it at first opportunity.

4. Activation of SAM sites. Stevenson said another very serious situation had arisen in connection with activation SAM sites in Cuba this AM. Protested such interference with conduct our aerial surveillance, which we obliged conduct in absence ground verification to monitor removal of weapons. Requested Sovs ensure non-recurrence such interference during completion of agreements. Gilpatric noted this very important matter and if SAM sites continued be deactivated as they had been during past ten days, that would avoid need for US taking other measures to make its aerial surveillance effective.

Kuznetsov agreed this major question, but claimed it merely demonstrated US pursuing policy of gross violation sovereignty other states. Reiterated this and similar arguments which he had used in conversation on this subject with McCloy last week. Suggested US stop over-flights now because "so-called" offensive weapons now removed and would be shipped out in couple of days; thus no need for over-flights existed. Refused accept US statement USSR must take steps to prevent recurrence, on grounds Cuba sovereign state. Suggested best way resolve this question and improve US-Cuban relations was to formalize guarantees to Cuba to be submitted to UN and to include assurances re: (a) non-aggression by US, (b) US steps to prevent its allies in Western Hemisphere from committing aggression against Cuba, (c) non-support by US of refugee attacks against Cuba, and (d) cessation subversive activities from US territory. Also said wishes Cuban people re Guantanamo should be satisfied. Claimed that all this would promote friendly US-Cuban relations and prevent another crisis. Said if such obligations were assumed, UN presence in Carribean, including territory of US, Cuba and other Latin American countries, should be instituted as proposed by U Thant, for purpose of verifying compliance. Stevenson and Gilpatric reverted to question over-flights and emphasized extreme gravity with which US regard any interference over-flights and that we would hold USSR accountable for whatever occurred. Kuznetsov replied USSR could not take any responsibility; US would be responsible.

5. IL-28 aircraft. Stevenson recalled yesterday's conversation this subject and quoted relevant portions Pres's and own statements to prove jet bombers had always been included in category offensive weapons. Stated question IL-28 aircraft was being taken up by Pres with Khrushchev today. Noted all other matters on which Sovs negative would also have to be taken up in Moscow unless they could be resolved here. Kuznetsov denied Pres-Khrushchev correspondence referred to IL-28 aircraft and contended US and USSR had been talking about IRBMs and MRBMs. While US had made certain declarations and submitted lists of items, they were unilateral documents and could not be regarded as part of agreement. Reiterated arguments re obsolescence and non-offensive nature IL-28, and contended only reason why US raising these additional questions was to complicate matters and protract situation of crisis. Appealed US be reasonable and take into account fact steps taken by USSR clearly showed it wished implement agreement. Stevenson and Gilpatric asked Sovs reflect on unresolved problems so that they could be settled; otherwise sharp, profound and grave disagreement would exist which would have to be referred to higher authority. Kuznetsov concluded by stating USSR's most sincere desire was not to sharpen US-USSR relations but to take any possible measures to resolve problems and eliminate tensions. Regretted he had failed convince Stevenson and Gilpatric position correct and expressed hope they would consider Sov views so as to find such solutions as were in interests both sides.


1 A 38-page memorandum of conversation of this meeting, which lasted from 4-9:30 p.m., is ibid., 1A October/November meetings. Back

2 See Document 52. Back

3 The list of the ships, given on November 5, is in telegram 1646 from USUN, November 6, 7 p.m. Labinsk would sail on November 6, and Bratsk, Lenin Komsomol, Kurchatov, Anosov, Divnogosk, Volgoles, Polzunov, and Alapaevsk would depart on November 7. Also in this letter Kuznetsov stated that the Soviet Union had "no objections to the setting in motion by Mr. McCloy of the proposal for US ships to observe at closer range removal of the rockets on Soviet vessels." (Department of State, Central Files, 737.56361/11-662) Back

4 In telegram 1681 from USUN, November 7, 10 p.m., the mission reported that Mendelevich approached Akalovsky and, reading from a prepared text, stated that agreement had been reached on U.S. visual observation. Masters of the Soviet ships had been instructed to inform the U.S. ships that came along side of the number of missiles they were carrying. If needed, canvas could be partly removed. If the United States insisted upon using helicopters in case of bad weather, the Soviet Union had no objection. (USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-002, Outgoing Telegrams 1962 (Top Secret; Exdis, etc.)) Back

Source: USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-001, Outgoing Telegrams, 1953-1963. Secret. Drafted by Akalovsky and cleared by Yost. This telegram was incorrectly dated November 6. It was drafted the evening of November 6, but not sent until early the following day.

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