The Cuban Missile Crisis
Summary Record of the 29th Meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council


Washington, November 21, 1962, 4 p.m.

Under Secretary Ball reported that Russian representative Kuznetsov had told McCloy in New York that we were upping the ante by asking for assurances with respect to the SAM sites. Kuznetsov threatened to go back to Russia. McCloy wants to give the Russians something tonight. Three draft instructions, one written by McCloy, another by Stevenson, and a third by the State Department, were discussed.(1) The State draft was largely a restatement of the President's press conference statement. It made the point that we cannot ignore the necessity of ensuring the peace and security of the hemisphere. We must satisfy ourselves that no offensive weapons remain in Cuba. The burden is on Cuba, not the USSR, to ensure that we can do this. The State draft was described as an offering document.

Mr. Ball said that McCloy's view is that we got from the Russians more than we expected. Therefore, we should not put so much stress on ground inspection now that if we don't get it it is a defeat for us.

The President agreed that we could abandon insistence on ground inspection, but he felt that the proposed no-invasion assurances were too hard. He said our objective is to preserve our right to invade Cuba in the event of civil war, if there were guerrilla activities in other Latin American countries or if offensive weapons were reintroduced into Cuba. We do not want to build up Castro by means of a no-invasion guarantee. The pertinent sentence in the declaration which we would make to the UN Security Council was revised.(2)

The President left the meeting after approving an interim reply(3) to the most recent message from Khrushchev.(4)

Secretary McNamara said he would be recommending to the President an aerial reconnaissance plan for the next few weeks. Low-level flights would be authorized only with Presidential approval, but he doubted that many such flights would be necessary. High-level flights, two per day accumulatively but not more than five in any one day, would be recommended. Secretary McNamara said that in the coming days we are going to have insufficient information out of Cuba but we can live with this rather than risk having one of our planes shot down and then having to retaliate.

Bromley Smith(5)

1 See footnote 5, Document 199. Back

2 For the draft declaration as sent to USUN, see Document 205. Back

3 Document 202. Back

4 Document 196. Back

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

Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee, Vol. III, Meetings, 25-32a. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting lasted until 4:35 p.m. (Ibid., President's Appointment Book) McGeorge Bundy's record of action of this meeting is ibid., National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee, Vol. III, Meetings, 25-32a. See the Supplement.

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