DAY #3: CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On Thursday, October 18, 1962, President Kennedy met in the Oval Office in the West Wing of the White House with several representatives of the Soviet government including UN Ambassador Andrei Gromyko.
The meeting, which included Vladimir Seyemenov, Deputy Minister & Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet ambassador to the United States, began at 5 p.m. & ended at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
Gromyko read a statement to the President from a prepared text in which his government restated that all assistance to Cuba was strictly for defensive purposes.
Having U2 photographs in his desk drawer, JFK knew better but he didn’t let on to the Russians.
In a televised interview later in December, JFK said that did not show the photographs because his information was incomplete & he didn’t want to give the Soviets the advantage of announcing 1st that the missiles were there.
JFK referred to the meeting with Gromyko in his address to the nation of October 22, 1962 when he said:
“Only last Thursday, as evidence of this rapid offensive buildup was already in my hand, Soviet foreign minister Gromyko told me in my office…that ‘Soviet assistance to Cuba (was)…solely (for the) defensive capabilities of Cuba & that if it were otherwise…(his) government would never become involved in rendering assistance.'”
OCTOBER 18, 1962
EXCOMM MEETS TO MAKE DECISION ON MISSILES IN CUBA
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) This evening the Executive Committee of the National Security Council, called EXCOMM, met at the White House to discuss the options for responding to the discovery that nuclear missiles have been placed in Cuba by the U.S.S.R.
In addition to the President & Vice-President, other participants were:
Robert S. McNamara, Secretary of Defense
Dean Rusk, Secretary of State
C. Douglas Dillon, Secretary of Treasury
Bob F. Kennedy, Attorney General
Llewellyn Thompson, Special Assistant for Soviet affairs
George Ball, Under Secretary of State
McGeorge Bundy, National Security adviser
John McCone, CIA director
Arthur Lundahl, director National Photography Interpreting Center
General Maxwell Taylor, chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
Early in the discussions, President Kennedy asked Mr. Lundahl how many different missile sites were identified.
He answered 23.
General Maxwell Taylor said:
“All of our (response) plans are based on…(the)…assumption that we would attack with conventional weapons against an enemy who is not equipped with operational nuclear weapons.”
The President asked “how quick is our communication with Moscow?”
Mr. Thompson said 5 to 6 hours and later expressed his preference for a (naval) blockade along with a demand for the missiles already in place to be dismantled.
The Attorney General, who originally supported military action, now appears to be leaning toward a blockade following the lead of Llewellyn Thompson & George Ball.*
*Although JFK+50 posts this as a news article for Oct 18, 1962, it would not have appeared so at the time because this information was top secret.