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JFK: Prevented Nuclear Armageddon

Square Wheels

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After a failed U.S. attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro in April 1961, in what became known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, in July 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev reached a secret agreement with Cuba's Fidel Castro to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba in an effort to prevent future American invasion. Castro's Cuba was to be transformed into a Russia nuclear missile site.


Three months later, in October 1962, an American U-2 spy plane photographed nuclear missile sites being built in Cuba. Kennedy considered a U.S. air strike to destroy the missiles, but there was uncertainty about whether or not the nuclear weapons in Cuba were already operational, which meant that any such attack could have sparked a nuclear war.

After days of deliberation, on Oct. 22, 1962, Kennedy ordered the establishment of a naval blockade, or "quarantine," around Cuba to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more nuclear weapons and military supplies.


For 13 days in October 1962, the world was on the brink of a nuclear war, but as a result of Kennedy's leadership, a peaceful resolution was reached. In the face of a major crisis, Kennedy showed firmness and resolve, and emerged as both a national and global hero.



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