413. Memorandum prepared for the NSC Executive Committee, October 261

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I. Surveillance of 25 October shows that the construction of IRBM and MRBM bases in Cuba is proceeding largely on schedule; now level photography confirms that the MRBM bases will use the 1,020-nautical-mile SS–4 missile. No additional sites, launchers or missiles have been located, but there is road construction around Remedios which suggests the fourth IRBM site we have been expecting there. We estimate that it would cost the USSR more than twice as much and take considerably longer to add to its ICBM strike capability from the USSR as great an increment as the potential salvo from Cuban launching sites.

II. Only two Soviet freighters—and five tankers, one of them already past the quarantine line—still are headed for Cuba. The BELOVODSK, with twelve MI–4 helicopters, is in the North Atlantic; the PUGACHEV appears to have slowed or stopped several days west of the Panama Canal. A total of 16 dry cargo ships now are carried as having turned back toward the USSR on 23 October.

Two Soviet civil air flights are scheduled for Havana with passengers; cargo, if any, is not known. One may be turned back [less than 1 line not declassified] today. A TU–114 is scheduled [less than 1 line not declassified] to reach Havana 1 November.

III. There are further indications that some Soviet and satellite elements, particularly air and ground elements in Eastern Europe and European Russia, are on an alert or readiness status. No major deployments have been detected, however, [1 line not declassified]. There is some evidence that additional tactical aircraft have been placed on five-minute alert in East Germany, where two areas along the West German border have been closed off for exercises.

Moscow highlights Khrushchev’s acceptance of U Thant’s appeal in a bid to start US-Soviet negotiations. Peiping, however, is irritated that the Soviet response to US action is not stronger. The Communists still deny there are any offensive weapons in Cuba.

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IV. There is no major change or significant new development in non-bloc reaction to the crisis. Most of the OAS nations have offered to participate in some form in the quarantine, and NATO members have agreed with minor reservations to deny landing and overflight rights to Soviet planes bound for Cuba.

  1. The Crisis: USSR/Cuba. Top Secret. 2 pp. Kennedy Library, NSF, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee, Vol. I, Meetings 6–10.