The Cuban Missile Crisis
Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Stevenson) and the Under Secretary of State (Ball)


November 9, 1962, 4:15 p.m.

AES: I wonder if you would care to submit this afternoon at the meeting(1) a suggestion which I could dictate.

GWB: I think the meeting has been called off.

AES: Maybe you could send it over to Kennedy to be reflecting on.


AES: You know about our meeting today and the protest on the ships?(2)

GWB: Yes.

AES: That is all it amounted to. It seems to me highly desirable to liquidate--this is all pending, no developments from Moscow or from Castro, I mean Havana. If this continues this way indefinitely, we are going to start to lose ground here; talks are going to start, and it will reverberate around the country. I think that is good reason to try to cut this off with the Russians and liquidate this part of it if we can and then see what is left in the way of possibilities for negotiation with the Cubans through the OAS. In any event, I could dictate the memo:

(Memo written up separately)(3)

Just chew on that for a while and extricate us from the deadlock we are in now. This would give them their five Castro points in the forum where we can handle it best--in the OAS, and meanwhile get the munitions out of there and the only verification we will ever get on the warheads anyway.

GB: The thing about that is it leaves Castro in an extremely favorable position, doesn't it.

AES: He has lost his aircraft, his missiles, his nuclear striking capability; he has a guarantee against invasion by the US and nothing else.

GB: He still has his SAM sites and the missiles he never really thought were his anyway.

AES: We are never going to get them, I don't think, without knocking them out.

GB: What disturbs me is from the point of view of the whole American state system, he has come out in a good position. He has guarantee with no obligations.

AES: No, he has given us a guarantee he won't reintroduce these weapons into Cuba and the Soviets have given guarantee that they won't reinstitute. The point is the problem of verification at the completion of the present transaction is in Castro hands and he isn't playing ball. Now, mind you this is only contingency planning in the event we don't get any break from Moscow now or ever.

GB: Let me say the majority view here is in favor of doing what you are trying to do which is to draw a line under the Russian undertakings and say we are prepared to accept at face value your statement that you have gone as far as you can go. The difference here is how Castro will proceed from there. It is then what we do as far as Castro is concerned. First, are we prepared to give him any undertakings at all until he does something himself which would be, I think, from the point of view of most of the people in Washington, which would require more than simply mutual undertakings. He would really have to provide for some kind of on the spot inspection or something of the sort of continuing presence that would provide some real safeguards or at least the appearance of safeguards. The alternative approach is maybe the thing to do is to let the Russians disengage along the line that you suggest and say to them you have done everything you can do and thanks very much; we still have the problem of dealing with Castro because our guarantee is with Castro and we may have to deal with him by ourselves and see if the Russians would not be prepared to let it go at that.

AES: As to the future safeguards, the only thing we will get is a promise the Russians won't reintroduce unless we get ground inspection from Castro and Castro will put that on a reciprocal basis. Therefore tying to liquidate the Russian deal and if we come off with everything we anticipated, then that leaves us with dealing directly with Castro on any future assurances beyond his promise not to reintroduce.

GB: I think you will find there is a great deal of accord on the first part.

AES: You can't impose on Castro obligations to do things because the Russians didn't comply.

GB: Well, but the whole business of giving him an assurance was conditioned upon certain things being done, some of which are in his behalf.

AES: That is what worries me. You can withhold the assurance on invasion and cut off now and say we didn't get strict compliance and therefore we are not ground inspection, and the people will say over here they have had virtual support of everything they expect and they are now reneging on their promise. I just don't want to get in the position of anybody charging us with bad faith or nonperformance on our part. I don't want to get so close to that line.

GB: Let me think this over.

AES: Of course this may all change when word comes from Moscow.

GB: No intimation from your friend as to when Mikoyan might have something.

AES: No, I think we are stuck here for the present and I think he has got down there and they are just going to work us over on these five points and we won't really achieve anything.

GB: I'll have this thing typed up and give it some thought.


Memorandum From the Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Stevenson) to President Kennedy

I won't review the negotiations to date with which you are generally familiar.

Unless there is some break from Moscow or Havana--I think the situation is deadlocked, and I suggest trying to conclude the transaction with the Russians to enable us to get into contact with Cuba through the OAS or directly. Realizing that the Soviets may not be able to control Cuba, I suggest consideration as a contingency of a formula for terminating the present transaction somewhat as follows:

1. If the Soviets will remove the IL-28 bombers and give us some means of verification (fuselages at sea) and formal assurance (in the Security Council) that all nuclear warheads for missiles and air nuclear bombs have been removed, and

2. If the Soviets will give us some means (through the five Latin countries having diplomatic relations, for example) verify compliances above ex post facto (I assume our reconnaissance will also verify without any agreement by the Soviets or Cubans), and

3. If the Soviets and Cuba will give us a formal public promise (in the Security Council) not to reintroduce these weapons into Cuba,

4. We will call off the quarantine and give Cuba the formal guarantee (in the Security Council) against invasion and ask other Latin States to do likewise.

The open question then would be: reciprocal guarantees by Cuba and other Latins and the United States against interference, subversion, sabotage, support for attacks, etc., together with some system of mutual verification by international inspection. This should be worked out through the OAS, if the other Latin states think it worthwhile.

Adlai E. Stevenson(5)

1 The Executive Committee meeting. Back

2 See Document 166. Back

3 Printed as an attachment. Back

4 No classification marking. This paper was discussed at the 24th meeting of the Executive Committee, November 12, 11 a.m., see Document 170. The Department of State sent this memorandum to the White House on November 14. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General, 11/11/62-11/15/62) Back

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

Source: Department of State, Ball Files: Lot 74 D 272, Telephone Conversations--Cuba. No classification marking. Stevenson was in New York; Ball was in Washington.

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