Fifty years tonight, in a nationally televised speech, President John Kennedy informed the American public that the world was on the brink of a nuclear war. A week before, the President was briefed by the State Department that the Soviet Union had established nuclear missile installations in Cuba — within 100 miles of the U.S. Over two intense weeks, the U.S. considered its options, deployed troops and weapons to Florida, confronted the Soviets, and set up a naval blockade. Finally, on October 27, the Soviets and the U.S. signed a secret deal where Kennedy order the removal of its missiles in southern Italy and Turkey, and Khrushchev would remove all the missiles in Cuba. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis, PETER KORNBLUH, National Security Archive Senior Analyst, joins us to share his insights on the close call between the United States and U.S.S.R. and what we’ve learned in recent years about the behind the scenes efforts to reach an agreement.
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Photo Credit: AP Images / William J. Smith