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The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war The United States armed forces were at their highest state of readiness ever and Soviet field commanders in Cuba were prepared to use battlefield nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded Luckily thanks to the bravery of two men President John F Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev war was averted In 1962 the Soviet Union was desperately behind the United States in the arms race Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but US missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union In late April 1962 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential US attack against the Soviet Union Meanwhile Fidel Castro was looking for a way to defend his island nation from an attack by the US Ever since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 Castro felt a second attack was inevitable Consequently he approved of Khrushchevs plan to place missiles on the island In the summer of 1962 the Soviet Union worked quickly and secretly to build its missile installations in Cuba For the United States the crisis began on October 15 1962 whenreconnaissance photographs revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba Early the next day President John Kennedy was informed of the missile installations Kennedy immediately organized the EX-COMM a group of his twelve most important advisors to handle the crisis After seven days of guarded and intense debate within the upper echelons of government Kennedy concluded to impose a naval quarantine around Cuba He wished to prevent the arrival of more Soviet offensive weapons on the island On October 22 Kennedy announced the discovery of the missile installations to the public and his decision to quarantine the island He also proclaimed that
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