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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 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 had the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arms and provide a real deterrent to a 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 He approved of Khrushchevs plan to place missiles on the island For the United States the crisis began on October 15 1962 when reconnaissance photographs revealed Soviet missiles under construction in Cuba Kennedy organized the EX-COMM a group of twelve advisors to handle the crisis After seven days 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 stated that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba would be regarded as an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union and demanded that the Soviets remove their offensive weapons from Cuba Kennedy eventually ordered low-level reconnaissance missions once every two hours On the 25th Kennedy pulled the quarantine line back and raised military readiness to DEFCON 2 Then on the 26th
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