The Cuban Missile Crisis
Summary Record of the 31st Meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council


Washington, November 29, 1962, 10 a.m.

The attached tentative agenda(1) was followed.

Director McCone reviewed the remaining Soviet military presence in Cuba, including MIGs, SAM sites, Komar ships, Frogs and coastal defense missiles.

There followed a discussion of reports appearing in the press quoting Cuban refugees on the existence of Soviet offensive weapons in Cuba. The President asked again how we can control such reports and how we can deal with them publicly. He asked that further efforts be made with news media to relate the refugee reports to the hard evidence available to us. Mr. Helms and Mr. Salinger were to be asked to see if some system could be worked out to deal with this problem.

Secretary Rusk summarized the Mikoyan/McCloy talks in New York.(2) He recommended that in his talk with Mikoyan(3) the President reaffirm our current position on Cuba, that he not raise the subject of Berlin, that he call attention to the situation in Laos, and stress the importance of reaching agreement on the nuclear test ban.

The President commented that the Russians won't take out their ground forces until we give a no-invasion assurance. It is better for us to have the Soviet units in Cuba than to give a formal no-invasion assurance.

Secretary Rusk said that the Soviet troops were there not to defend Cuba but to guard the Soviet strategic missiles. The Russians may decide to keep their troops there to control Castro. So long as the Soviet forces are there, we must be suspicious about what weapons are on the island and what weapons might be introduced.

Secretary McNamara raised the question of overflights and recommended that in general low-level flights should only be flown when necessary to clarify high-level pictures revealing suspicious activity. He said that high-level photography was very good and there was no need at present to fly low for several days. We should avoid escalation until the IL-28s are out and until Mikoyan has left New York. There are five types of wicked looking Soviet defensive missiles and the presence in Cuba of probably one thousand of such missiles undoubtedly gave rise to some of the refugee reports. These missiles are certainly being stored in warehouses and caves.

General Taylor and Secretary Rusk agreed that no low-level flights were necessary for a few days, but thereafter suspicious sites should be photographed at low level. The longer we wait to fly low level the harder it will be to do so.

The Attorney General called attention to the reference in the Khrushchev letter to the cave rumors.(4) He thought this point should be raised with Mikoyan in connection with verification problems.

The President asked the State Department to prepare a plan which would keep the heat on Castro and bolster other regimes in the Caribbean. A recommendation should also be made as to when the plan should be implemented. Assistant Secretary Martin replied that the State Department had a plan but was holding off implementing it until Mikoyan leaves New York. He recommended implementation of the plan be delayed as long as Soviet bombers and Soviet personnel are moving out of Cuba.

The President called attention to the Knabel post mortem of the Cuban crisis and another by Daniels of Reader's Digest. He mentioned Senator Keating's line, i.e., he has details of Soviet offensive missiles being hidden in Cuba which the Government does not have.

The importance of limiting discussion of the Cuban crisis was reemphasized by the President who reminded the group that press contacts should be strictly restricted to authorized White House sources.

Bromley Smith(5)

1 Not attached. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee Series, Vol. III, Meetings 25-32A) Back

2 See Document 213. Back

3 See Document 218. 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 Meetings, Vol. III, Meetings 25-32A. Top Secret; Sensitive. Drafted by Bromley Smith. The meeting lasted until 10:52 a.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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