The Cuban Missile Crisis
Summary Record of the 22d Meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council


Washington, November 7, 1962, 5 p.m.

Deputy Director Carter of CIA summarized the current intelligence.(1) Deputy Secretary Gilpatric explained our method of inspecting outgoing missiles. We will have pictures certainly of missiles aboard six outgoing Soviet ships. About 90 percent of the missile erectors have been moved to Cuban ports. Some Soviet troops are leaving. Photographs will be available in Washington tomorrow.

The President asked whether we should say something tonight about the outgoing missiles. Mr. Salinger said he thought something had to be said. The President authorized the Defense Department to say that ships with missiles are leaving Cuba.(2) The President suggested that an attempt be made to take pictures of a passenger boat returning to the Soviet Union with Russian troops.

Secretary McNamara reported there had been no reaction to today's aerial reconnaissance mission. The weather was bad. A request was made and permission granted to fly five U-2 flights and twelve low-level flights, some to photograph cave areas.

Secretary Rusk said we were heading toward a UN Security Council meeting during which the Russians would announce that there are no Soviet missiles in Cuba. Secretary General U Thant has put forward a suggestion that the five Latin American Ambassadors in Havana be named as inspectors and travel throughout Cuba.(3) Our problem is how to manage recurrent rumors in the U.S. and Latin America that the Russians are not moving out their missiles but merely putting them into caves. He said we must have evidence to reply to such allegations.

Secretary Dillon asked whether we were trying to get a bargain with the Russians or avoid one. The President replied that we have a little time now and we should play out our negotiations slowly. He said we wouldn't invade with the Soviet missiles out of Cuba. We might make a formal commitment not to invade when the Soviets comply fully by removing the IL-28 bombers and we have assurances that there will be no reintroduction of strategic missiles. We must continue aerial reconnaissance until a UN substitute is in place or until we have ground inspection. He asked State to draft a statement covering our plans for continuing inspection. He said our posture with the Soviets should be such as to avoid the appearance of holding back in the light of the rapid withdrawal of Soviet missiles.

Mr. Bundy said the only weapons in the proclaimed list which we must really get out are the IL-28 bombers. Secretary McNamara agreed.

The President said we must continue aerial surveillance. The Soviets say that inspection is now a Cuban problem. But we must make clear to the Russians that if they retaliate against our surveillance planes they will be held responsible. We are supporting a Latin American atom-free zone. The UN is discussing a proposal to send teams to carry out on-the-ground inspection in Cuba. If we get the IL-28 bombers out we might be prepared to lift the quarantine.

The President then asked for a memorandum spelling out what the Russians had agreed to and what we had agreed to.

Secretary Rusk said the proposal to use the Latin American Ambassadors in Havana as inspectors is a help but it is not complete. The President said these Ambassadors could look at caves and inspect possible Soviet submarine base sites. The problem is how we can hurt Castro without a quarantine which stops Soviet ships.

Secretary Rusk said we might ask the Latin American States to break relations and we might tell our allies to get their ships out of the Cuban trade.

Mr. Nitze circulated a Defense Department paper on what we would do if a reconnaissance plane were shot down.(4) General Taylor orally stated the Chiefs' views.(5) We must first find out whether a shoot-down is an isolated incident or whether it is the first of a series of actions undertaken with deliberate intent. We have a choice of hitting the offending source or if the shoot-down were deliberate, an air attack destroying the IL-28 bombers and the SAM sites. The President asked at what point we would give up low-level reconnaissance missions. We appeared to be running out of targets. He asked for a surveillance plan adequate to meet our interests on the assumption that the bombers remain and on the assumption that the bombers are taken out. He asked the group to meet again tomorrow(6) to decide whether we should go to the mat on the IL-28 bombers or whether we should say the Soviets have now completed their agreement to remove the missiles and move on to other problems.

Bromley Smith(7)

1 In his record of action of this meeting, November 7, Bundy noted that Carter reported that three ships had loaded 17 Soviet missiles, 11 of which were on the two ships already on the high seas. (Ibid., National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee, Vol. II, Meetings 17-24) See the Supplement. Back

2 For text of the statement, November 8, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1962, p. 458. Back

3 As reported in telegram 1661 from USUN, November 7, 6:30 p.m. (USUN Files: NYFRC 84-84-002, Outgoing Telegrams 1962 (Top Secret, Exdis, etc.)) The Department of State responded that it would be prepared to have U Thant make such a proposal with certain provisos: that Castro not learn that it had been first discussed with the United States; that U.S. aerial surveillance would continue; that the inspection team have full freedom of movement in Cuba; that it be an agent of and report to U Thant; that it have adequate logistical and technical support; and that it would be supplemental to ICRC inspection of incoming cargoes and U.S. along-side inspection of outgoing cargoes. (Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 65 D 438, Background Papers--Cuba) Back

4 In the paper, November 7, Nitze's courses of action included private and public warnings to the Soviet Union, reimposition of the quarantine, and, if additional reconnaissance planes were shot down, U.S. attacks on the specific SAM sites. If attacks continued, all SAM sites in Cuba would be destroyed. (Kennedy Library, Sorensen Papers, Cuba, Material Used at Hyannis, 11/22-11/23/62) See the Supplement. Back

5 The Joint Chief's views were sent to McNamara in JCSM-872-62, November 7. (Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD (C) A Files: FRC 71 A 2896, Cuba (Sensitive) 1962) See the Supplement. Back

6 See Document 162. Back

7 Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature. Back

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee, Vol. II, Meetings, 17-24. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting lasted until 6:10 p.m. (Ibid., President's Appointment Book)

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