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


Washington, November 21, 1962, 9:49 p.m.

1338. For Stevenson and McCloy. Subject: Next Steps in New York Negotiations.

I. Basic Assumptions

1. The loose ends still remaining unfulfilled in original understanding between President and Khrushchev are these: On Soviet side, on-site UN-supervised verification of removal of offensive weapons, and longer-term safeguards against their reintroduction. On our side, formal assurances against invasion of Cuba.

2. Recent indications from Soviets make clear their intention: to disengage militarily from Cuba, but to stick to their story that they have saved the Castro regime from US invasion. Our interest lies in speeding the disengagement process, while avoiding the kind of commitment that unduly ties our hands in dealing with the Castro regime while it lasts.

3. On verification and safeguards,

(a) The Soviets have given no indication that they are prepared to press Castro regime as hard as would be necessary to get Cubans to agree to any acceptable inspection system;

(b) Cubans have consistently been adamant in objecting to ground inspection of any kind, and have rejected several progressively softer proposals by SYG on verification;

(c) Both Soviets and Cubans have stressed need for reciprocal arrangements involving inspection of other Caribbean areas, probably including US, as price for inspection of Cuba.

4. Therefore it is not going to be possible in the short run to get a UN system of short-term verification or long-term safeguards on offensive weapons in the Caribbean.

5. Assuming (which is not wholly clear) that it would be possible to develop a satisfactory arrangement for adequate long-term safeguards on basis of mutuality in the Caribbean area, it is not to our interest to have the Soviets involved in creating, sponsoring, or administering such safeguards.

6. Absence of inspection arrangements, while leaving part of original deal unfulfilled, does provide rationale for (a) continued US photographic reconnaissance over Cuba, operating under existing OAS resolution, and (b) the tough conditions on our non-invasion assurances.

II. Long Stall vs Rapid Wrap-up

1. On this analysis, that we will not be able to get satisfactory arrangements on verification and safeguards, we face two alternatives:

(a) to continue negotiations for an indefinite period, insisting on Soviet compliance with our full position that there should be UN verification of their withdrawal of offensive weapons as well as "suitable safeguards" against their reintroduction into Cuba;

(b) to close out this phase of the negotiations immediately on the basis of the steps the Soviet Union has taken and will promise to take, adapting our undertakings to reflect the absence so far of meaningful UN inspection arrangements.

2. There are distinct advantages to closing out this phase of the negotiations with the Soviets without delay. The Soviets would have the opportunity to disengage themselves from major military involvement in Cuba. We would be enabled to deal with Cuba largely as a Hemispheric problem and to consider next steps on long-range safeguards in a Caribbean Latin American context, without the intrusion of the Soviet Union. This would permit us to seek progress with the Soviet Union on wider subjects, such as nuclear testing, Berlin, disarmament and the election of the Secretary General.

III. Toward a Security Council Meeting

1. To accomplish a speedy wrap-up of current phase of negotiations, Soviets evidently have in mind a Security Council meeting at which agreed declarations would be made by the US and the USSR, a report would be made by SYG, and an agreed summation would be made by Chairman or in simple procedural resolution adopted by the Council. Soviets are not insisting on a formal protocol, nor do they seem to be insisting that Cubans be parties to this accord at this stage.

2. The United States is quite prepared to work toward such a wrap-up meeting of Security Council. In view of the non-fulfillment of important aspects of the original understanding, we cannot and should not declare the understanding fulfilled. However, we can adopt a procedure which enables a "line to be drawn under" the US-Soviet crisis over Cuba, while leaving open questions that must be sorted out with Cuba in hemispheric context over longer span of time.

3. In the course of negotiations during this next phase, we would have to make clear, both to Soviets and to general public, that Kennedy-Khrushchev understanding was never properly fulfilled, and the absence of on-site verification and of longer-term safeguards against reintroduction makes it necessary for OAS to retain full freedom of action as regards aerial surveillance and other means of keeping a close eye on Cuban behavior and any evidence of renewed Soviet intrusion into Hemisphere. We would continue to remind world that declaration of intention must be independently checked in a world still so full of international mistrust, which has just been treated to a classic example of large-scale duplicity. However, until after SC meeting we would avoid making our intentions on continued air surveillance manifest in a form or forum that would require Soviets to raise the issue of violation of Cuban air space.

4. In the circumstances we will have to place conditions on our non-invasion assurance which are justified by absence of Cuban cooperation with the United Nations and the inability (or unwillingness) of the Soviets to induce the Cubans to cooperate. This will leave the door open for regional arrangements for longer-term safeguards if Cubans cooperate, and for continued OAS air surveillance of Cuba, and military response to any Cuban aggression, if they do not.

IV. Scenario in the Security Council

Within this framework we would favor a Security Council meeting during next week at which the following steps would be taken:

1. The Secretary-General would report on the steps he has taken, and in particular his series of unsuccessful efforts to secure Cuban agreement to UN on-site inspection to verify withdrawal and dismantling of offensive weapons and to safeguard against future reintroduction.

2. The Soviet Union would make a declaration indicating steps it has taken pursuant to the US-USSR understanding and containing assurances that all missiles and nuclear components have been removed, that the IL-28's would come out within four weeks, that military units and personnel intended for the protection of these weapons systems will be removed in time, and that no offensive weapons would be reintroduced in Cuba in the future.

3. The United States would make a parallel declaration: (Being sent USUN in septel)(1)

(a) taking note of the Soviet assurances cited above;

(b) indicating that we have lifted the quarantine;

(c) stating our non-invasion assurances, contingent on Cuban behavior.

4. These declarations would be noted by the Security Council President in a "summation" which would have to be agreed ahead of time. Alternatively a brief procedural resolution noting the declaration might be less difficult to achieve than getting UAR to agree to an acceptable summation. If a resolution is used, it should contain no substantive elements and should establish no continuing machinery.


1 Document 205. Back

Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.56261/11-2162. Top Secret; Sensitive; Priority; Eyes Only. Drafted by Sisco and Cleveland; cleared with the Executive Committee and Ball, and approved by Cleveland.

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