The Cuban Missile Crisis was a 13-day confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union in 1962, initiated by the discovery of ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. The bitter situation began after Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev fulfilled Cuba’s request to place nuclear missiles on the island to deter a future invasion, in response to the presence of US Jupiter ballistic missiles strategically placed in Italy and Turkey. Many historians believe the face-off was the closest the two superpowers came to World War 3, but documents obtained by Express.co.uk reveal just how close the world came to complete nuclear annihilation.
In a series of letters between Washington and London – including direct talks between US President John F Kennedy and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, lay bare the horrific details.
One letter, dated October 26, 1962, came from David Ormsby-Gore – the British ambassador in Washington to his peers in London, revealing discussions between JFK and the former Secretary General of the United Nations – U Thant.
He writes: “I have not been able to see the President, but he did, however, telephone this morning and I was able to ask him how long he felt they could give U Thant to try and produce a satisfactory and verified standstill.
“He said that the evidence was that the Soviets were pushing ahead preparing the missile sites and the United States could not therefore wait very much longer.
Top secret documents reveal JFK's plan (Image: GETTY)
The Cuban Missile crisis lasted two weeks (Image: GETTY)
The US would be prepared in these circumstances to give such an assurance
“It was not possible to carry the matter further on the telephone.
“But I have just come from seeing Dean Rusk (former Secretary of State for JFK), I could not disclose to him my knowledge of the exchange of messages last night and was not therefore able to get the texts.”
In the letters, Mr Ormsby-Gore reveals how Mr Rusk detailed a plea from the United Nations to JFK, to which he had reportedly agreed to.
He added: “However, he did tell me that U Thant had telephoned an hour earlier and asked whether, if he was able to obtain satisfactory assurance from the Soviet Union and Cuba involving effective United Nations verification of