The Cuban Missile Crisis
Message From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy


Moscow, November 12, 1962.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT, I would like to express my satisfaction that the mutual obligations taken in accordance with the exchange of messages between us are being carried out both by your side and our side. One can say that certain favourable results are already seen at this time. We appreciate your understanding of the situation and your cooperation in carrying out the obligations taken by our side. We, on our part, will as always honor our obligations. And I would like to inform you that our obligations with regard to dismantling and removal of both missiles and warheads have already been fulfilled.

We appreciate that we must come to an agreement with you regarding the mutually acceptable means for your side to ascertain that we really carry out our obligations. What has already been achieved in the course of negotiations between our reprsentatives--Kuznetsov, McCloy and Stevenson--and the cooperation reached in the process of these negotiations is a good thing. The same should be said about the cooperation between captains of our ships, which were taking our missiles from Cuba, and corresponding U.S. ships. This is very good, this has created an impression that your side also wishes to cooperate, eliminating the remnants of the tension which only yesterday were very dangerous both for our two peoples and for the peoples of the whole world. Thus, if we proceed from our understanding which was expressed in your message of October 27(1) and in our reply of October 28,(2) then we, the Soviet side, have carried out our obligations and thereby have created possibility for complete elimination of tension in the Caribbean. Consequently, now it is your turn, it is for your side to carry out precisely your obligations. We have in mind that apart from the long term obligations that the United States itself will not attack Cuba and will restrain other countries of the Western Hemisphere from doing that, the most important thing which is required today is to give moral satisfaction to world public opinion and tranquility to peoples. And what is required from your side to that end is to lift the so-called quarantine and of course to stop violating the territorial waters and air space of Cuba. If this continues confidence in your obligations will thus be undermined which can only grieve world public and throw us back to the positions to which we must not return after the liquidation of such a dangerous situation. To say nothing of the fact that it would hamper us in the future.

At present, we must--and we are convinced in that--look forward and draw necessary conclusions from what has happened up till now and from the good which followed due to the efforts of both sides. Therefore, we believe that conditions are emerging now for reaching an agreement on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, cessation of all types of nuclear weapons tests and on all other questions which are ripe and require solution. You have already ended your tests and we shall probably also end our tests in November or at least before the end of this year.

Now it is also necessary to think of some real measures with regard to the question of ensuring more stable security in the world. In this connection we attach great importance to your statement that the US is ready to support idea of a non-aggression pact between NATO and the Warsaw treaty countries. But the basic question, of course, remains that of disarmament, of destroying the whole war machine of states. To give more assurance on the first stage it might be expedient to return to the proposals forwarded by us some time ago on the establishment of observation posts on mutual basis at airfields, in major sea-ports, at railway junctions, on highways. This would exclude a possibility of a surprise attack if any side does not behave honestly, if it wants to concentrate military equipment and its troops for an attack. Precisely this is pursued by the suggestion made recently by Mr. Thant.

It goes without saying that the question of a German peace treaty still remains and we can not escape from solving it. Moreover what we and you have lived through makes a speediest solution of this question still more imperative.

I do not name other unresolved questions, we have plenty of them, I name only the main problems, on the solution of which the destinies of the world largely depend.

Now about the matter that, as you state, worries you today--about the IL-28 planes which you call an offensive weapon. We have already given you our clarification on this point and I think you can not but agree with us. However, if you do not agree--and this is your right--ask your intelligence after all and let it give you an answer based not on guesswork but on facts. If it really knows anything it must tell you the truth and namely that it is long since the IL-28's have been taken out of production and out of use in our armed forces. And if some planes still remain now--and a certain number of them have been brought by us to Cuba--that was done as a result of your action last year when you increased the budget and called up reservists. We on our part had to take measures in response at that time, having postponed taking those planes out of use as well.

Had there been no such action on your part we would not have IL-28's in existence because they would have been used for scrap. Such is this "formidable offensive" weapon. If your intelligence is objective it must give a correct appraisal of these 12-year-old planes and report to you that they are incapable of offensive actions. We brought them to Cuba only because they can be used as a mobile means of coastal defense under the cover of anti-aircraft fire from their own territory. They can not however fly beyond the limits of that cover since they will be immediately destroyed either by modern anti-aircraft means or by simple conventional artillery; not to speak of interceptors before which they are entirely defenseless. But all this must be known not only to the intelligence but to all engaged in military matters.

Nevertheless we regard your concern with understanding, though on our part we share the desire of the Government of Cuba to possess defensive weapons which would permit [it] to defend the territorial integrity of its country.

Therefore if you meet this with understanding and if we agreed with you on solving other questions in implementing the mutually assumed obligations then the question of IL-28 bombers would be solved without difficulties.

In what way should this cooperation, in our understanding, find its expression and what would facilitate the solution of this question?

We state to you that these bombers are piloted solely by our fliers. Consequently you should not have any fears that they can be used to do harm to the United States or other neighboring countries in Western Hemisphere. And since you and your allies in Western Hemisphere have taken an obligation not to invade Cuba then it would seem this weapon should not pose any threat for you. Moreover, we are aware of what military means are in your possession. If the enemy were threatening us with such weapon we would ignore that threat completely for it would cause us no anxiety whatsoever.

But because you express apprehension that this weapon can be some sort of a threat to the US or other countries of Western Hemisphere which do not possess adequate defensive means we state to you as a guarantee that those planes are piloted by our fliers and therefore there should be no misgivings that they could be used to the detriment of any state.

As you ascertained yourself we have removed the missiles, we also removed everything else related to missiles, all the equipment necessary for their use and recalled the personnel manning those missiles. Now that the missiles are removed the question of IL-28's is an incomprehensible argument because that weapon as I have already said is of no value as a combat weapon at present, to say nothing of the future. Let us come to an agreement on this question as well, let us do away with tension, let us fulfill the mutual pledges made in our messages. We will not insist on permanently keeping those planes on Cuba. We have our difficulties in this question. Therefore we give a gentleman's word that we will remove the IL-28 planes with all the personnel and equipment related to those planes, although not now but later. We would like to do that some time later when we determine that the conditions are ripe to remove them. We will advise you of that.

I think that an agreement on such basis will enable us to complete the elimination of all the tension that existed and will create conditions for life to resume its normal course, that is the blockade would be immediately removed; the pledges of the sides would be registered in the appropriate documents in the United Nations Organization; non-invasion of Cuba and strict observance of her sovereignty guaranteed; the UN posts established in the countries of the Caribbean so that neither one nor the other side would indeed undertake any unexpected actions to the detriment of another state.

This would be the best solution which can be anticipated especially having in mind the tension that we lived through and the abyss we came to. And I believe, Mr. President, that you yourself understand that we were very close to that abyss. But you and we soberly and wisely appraised the situation and maintained self-control. Let us now give a complete satisfaction to the public.

What happened should now prompt us to make new great efforts so that no repetition of such events should be allowed because if we succeeded in finding a way out of a dangerous situation this time, next time we might not safely untie the tightly made knot. And the knot that we are now untying has been tied rather tightly, almost to the limit.

We displayed an understanding with regard to the positions of each other and came out of a critical situation through mutual concessions to the satisfaction of all peoples of the world. Let us now give joy to all peoples of the world and show that this conflict really became a matter of yesterday, let us normalize the situation. And it would be good if on your part efforts were made to make the normalization a complete, real normalization and it is necessary to do this in the interests of all peoples and this is within our power.


1 See Document 95. Back

2 Document 102. Back

3 Printed from an unsigned copy. Back

Source: Department of State, S/S Files: Lot 77 D 163, Special US-USSR File, 1962. Top Secret; Eyes Only. A note on this message indicated it was first given orally.

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