Cuban Missile Crisis

  • Created by: Gem_22
  • Created on: 27-05-15 18:23

Possible reasons for Missiles to be built on Cuba

To bargain with the USA - Khrushchev could remove the missiles in return for American concessions (removing missiles in Turkey).

To test the USA - Khrushchev could see how strong the Americans really where (whether they backed down or not). The USSR wanted to test Kennedy.

To defend Cuba - They were genuinely meant to defend Cuba.

To trap the USA - Khrushchev wanted the Americans to find them and be drawn into a war (he didn't try to his them).

To get the upper hand in the arms race - Khrushchev was concerned about the missile gap between the USSR and the USA. Missiles on Cuba reduced the risk of the USA landig the first strike.

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How did the Crisis develop?

  • 16th October: Kennedy and his advisors find out about the missiles and have to decide whether to launch an air attack or naval quarantine.
  • 20th October: Kennedy decides that the quarantine is the best option.
  • 22nd October: Kennedy orders the American warships to blockade Cuba. He tells Khrushchev about the blockade. 
  • 23rd October: Khrishchev tells Kennedy that Soviet ships will ignore the blockade and refuses to admit the missiles exist. The USA blockade begins. 
  • 24th October: The Soviet ships turn around.
  • 25th October: Kennedy won the first round. Some of his advisors want America to invade Cuba.
  • 26th October: Khrushchev sends JFK a letter offering to remove the missiles if the blockade is lifted - first time he admits to their existence. 
  • 27th October: Khrushchev sends a second letter saying that JFK should remove USA's missiles from Turkey. Kennedy agrees as long as he can remove his missiles in private, but Khrushchev has to remove his publicly.
  • 28th October: Radio Moscow announces that Khrushchev has accepted the solution and will remove the missiles in exchange for a non-invasion pledge from the USA.
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Kennedy's Options

Do Nothing
Pros - It will be unlikely to lead to war.
Cons - USA'll look weak; Missiles may be fired; USA'll look like doesn't have ability to do anything.

Surgical Air Attack
Pros - It shows strength; it shows their power over Communism.
Cons - It could lead to war; it could look like they're panicking; Could result in deaths of innocents.

Pros - It shows strength; it shows their power over Communism.
Cons - Could lead to war; looks like they're panicking; could result in deaths of innocents; could make America look bad and agressive.

Diplomatic Pressure
Pros - Unlikely to lead to war; will give America backup.
Cons - America will look weak; America will look like it can't defend itself; might not work.

Pros - They cans top the nuclear weapons being completed; will not make USA look weak.
Cons - The USSR may see it as a act of war.

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Khrushchev or Kennedy's fault?

Khrushchev's Fault
The crisis occured because Khrushchev built the missiles. If he hadn't built them, the 13 day crisis would never have occured.

Kennedy's Fault
Khrushchev may never have started building the missiles if the USA did not have missiles on Turkey.

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Who won?


  • The nuclear missiles were removed from Cuba.
  • He had a greatly improved reputation in his country and throughout the west.
  • It helped improve USA and USSR's relationship.
  • It helped prevent a future nuclear war.
  • It made them realise that Cuba being Communist is not bad enough to cause a nuclear war.


  • Cuba remained Communist and armed.
  • He could claim a personal triumph.
  • He was seen as a responsible peacemaker.
  • It helped improve USA and USSR's relationship.
  • It helped prevent a nuclear war.
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