522. Memorandum from Cleveland to Rusk and Ball, November 13, enclosing a draft Cuban contingency paper1

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  • Cuban Contingency Paper

Attached is a draft paper on action to be taken if the Soviets seem to be turning us down or unduly stalling on the IL–28’s.

This is the paper Secretary McNamara suggested at the end of the NSC ExCom meeting here in the Department this morning.

The Defense Department (Paul Nitze’s office) would like to see it. Can we send them two or three copies to look at?

Abe Chayes has drafted the OAS Resolution, and has gone over the rest of the material. Ed Martin has approved the OAS Resolution and the covering paper. The covering paper has also been cleared by Alex Johnson.

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Assuming no cooperation on the IL–28’s, the following actions would be taken in the order indicated.

1. A “last chance” private message to Khrushchev, making perfectly clear how seriously we take the matter of the bombers, and indicating that further measures such as the reinstitution of the quarantine, together with other measures, might have to be employed.

2. Political pre-conditions to further action:

(a) Bilateral diplomatic efforts to get others still represented in Havana to tell the Castro Government that the maintenance of Soviet offensive weapons in Cuba would be an occasion for breaking off diplomatic relations.

(b) An OAS resolution, reviewing the incompleteness of the Soviet and Cuban performance under the Kennedy-Khrushchev understanding, and calling for continued close aerial surveillance and tightening of the blockade. The OAS would report its action, together with a formal complaint to the Security Council of the United Nations. (Tab A)

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(c) Action in the UN, designed to dramatize the incompleteness of Soviet compliance with the Kennedy-Khrushchev understanding, and designed to get a UN exhortation to Cuba to cooperate with the UN. (Tab B) This [Facsimile Page 3] involves bringing to the surface as much as possible of the efforts U Thant has made to get Castro to cooperate; U Thant has already threatened to make public his offer of two days ago, to use the five Latin American embassies as a UN “presence” for verification purposes.

(d) Public announcements and statements by the President and other Administration leaders, contrasting sharply with the relative silence of Administration officials on Cuba during the last two weeks.

3. Tightening of the blockade

(a) Suspending the “Suspension of enforcement”.

(b) Stopping ships, starting with bloc chartered ships, then bloc ships, then Soviet ships.

4. Other actions

(a) Breaking of diplomatic relations and the imposition of trade embargoes by Latin American states and if possible other free-world nations whose relations with Cuba are still significant.

(b) Widening the prescribed categories under the blockade to include POL.

(c) “Harassing surveillance” from the air. Regular aerial reconnaissance would of course be continued right [Facsimile Page 4] along. Up to a point this surveillance can be intensified as a measure of psychological warfare. But using aerial reconnaissance as a means of provoking attack on our planes, which would in turn justify retaliation from the air on Cuban targets (including the IL–28’s on the ground), is not regarded as an appropriate form of action, at least until all of the above steps have been played out.

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Tab A

Draft OAS Resolution


The Council of the Organization of American States, meeting as the provisional Organ of Consultation on October 23, 1962, determined by incontrovertible evidence that the Government of Cuba, despite repeated warnings, had secretly endangered the peace of the Continent by permitting the Sino-Soviet powers to have intermediate and middle-range missiles on its territory capable of carrying nuclear warheads;

At that meeting the Organ of Consultation called for the immediate dismantling and withdrawal from Cuba of all missiles and other weapons with any offensive capability and recommended that the member states take all measures, individually and collectively, including the use of armed force, which they may deem necessary to ensure that the [Typeset Page 1403] Government of Cuba cannot continue to receive from the Sino-Soviet powers military matériel and related supplies which may threaten the peace and security of the Continent and to prevent the missiles in Cuba with offensive capabilities from ever becoming an active threat to the peace and security of the Continent;

The Organ of Consultation also informed the Security Council of the United Nations of its resolution in accordance with Article 54 of the Charter of the United Nations and expressed the hope that the Security Council would, in accordance with the draft resolution introduced by the United States, dispatch United Nations observers to Cuba at the earliest moment;

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The President of the United States proclaimed that, in accordance with the resolution of the Organ of Consultation, the forces under his command were ordered, beginning on October 24, 1962, to interdict the delivery of offensive weapons to Cuba;

The Governments of Argentina, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Venezuela are aiding in the interdiction of offensive weapons to Cuba;

In correspondence between President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev, it was agreed that:

(1) The USSR would remove from Cuba, under appropriate United Nations observation and supervision, all weapons systems capable of offensive use; and the USSR would undertake, with suitable safeguards, to halt the further introduction of such weapons systems into Cuba; and

(2) The United States would—upon the establishment of adequate arrangements through the United Nations to ensure the carrying out and continuation of these commitments—

(a) remove promptly the quarantine measures now in effect; and

(b) give assurances against an invasion of Cuba;

[Despite these undertakings, it has been determined that medium-range bombers, which constitute offensive weapons, have not been removed from Cuba;]

The Government of Cuba has failed to cooperate in arrangements to ensure that all offensive weapons are removed from and not reintroduced into Cuba;

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As a result of these facts, the threat to the peace and security of the Continent created by the presence in Cuba of offensive weapons has not been effectively terminated, and satisfactory arrangements have not been made to prevent the recurrence of this threat;



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1. To recommend that the Member States, in accordance with Articles 6 and 8 of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, individually and collectively, in order to bring about the removal of offensive weapons from Cuba and to safeguard against their reintroduction into Cuba, consider taking additional measures, including, but not limited to the following:

(a) Sever diplomatic relations with Cuba;

(b) Sever economic relations with Cuba;

(c) Intensify aerial surveillance of Cuba;

(d) Intensify quarantine measures against Cuba;

2. To reaffirm in all respects its resolution of October 23, 1962;

3. To inform the Security Council of the United Nations of this resolution in accordance with Article 54 of the Charter of the United Nations;

4. To continue to serve provisionally as Organ of Consultation and to request the Member States to keep the Organ of Consultation duly informed of measures taken by them in accordance with paragraph 2 of this resolution and paragraph 2 of the resolution of October 23, 1962.

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Tab B

Action in the UN

It would be difficult to mobilize opinion in the UN to exert pressure on the USSR to get the IL–28s out of Cuba since Communist arguments regarding their obsolete character, limited range, and the apparent disequilibrium between such weapons and our own, would make an impact on a good many countries. We can expect that a substantial number of members of the UN will adopt the view that the Soviets have acted in good faith and have fulfilled, to the degree possible, their part of the bargain.

It will be less difficult to dramatize Cuban intransigence and non-cooperation with the UN. Our strongest point is to emphasize the need for a UN presence to verify that all offensive weapons are out of Cuba and, more particularly, to safeguard against their future reintroduction.

If this point can be bolstered by a report of the Secretary General on his unsuccessful efforts to get the Cubans to agree to some form of inspection, we could muster the required support in the Security Council (but the Soviets would doubtless veto the US resolution). We could expect that the UAR and Ghana with the support of the Soviet Union would seek to broaden the Security Council consideration to include Castro’s five demands. Amendments to our resolution incorporating these demands are probable. Moreover, while we [Facsimile Page 9] would get the [Typeset Page 1405] required seven votes in the Security Council, our friends in the Council will not be as firm in support of the United States now that the USSR has removed 42 missiles and related equipment. In short, we would be confronted with a general feeling that in large measure the nuclear peril to the Western hemisphere has ended.

Any US proposal would have greater support if we called for UN inspection for a limited period pending the establishment of arrangements by the Latin American countries of a denuclearized zone designed to get at the long-range aspects of the problem.

Even so, there are serious doubts that the US position would receive broad support in the General Assembly if we should carry the matter to the Assembly after a Soviet veto in the Council.

On these assumptions the scenario in the Security Council would be as follows:

1. Our purpose in the Security Council would be to build up pressure on the Soviets to get out the IL–28’s; to build up pressure on Cuba to admit UN inspectors; to help prepare the political climate for possible stronger measures such as tightening the blockade; and to help justify continuing US aerial surveillance.

2. The United States would take the initiative in calling a Security Council meeting at which:

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(a) The Secretary General would make a report on his efforts to secure agreement of the Cuban Government to a UN presence;

(b) The USSR would take the line that it had fulfilled its part of the understandings contained in the exchange of letters between the President and Chairman Khrushchev; and

(c) The United States would underscore the incompleteness of compliance as evidenced by failure to withdraw the IL–28’s and to establish a UN presence in Cuba to guard against future reintroduction of offensive weapons.

3. It would be preferable though not essential for the OAS, prior to the Security Council meeting, to have adopted a further resolution calling for close aerial surveillance and tightening of the blockade.

4. In the Security Council the main stress should be laid by the United States on the need for a UN presence to verify that all offensive weapons are out, and the need to safeguard against a future nuclear peril in Cuba, rather than on the IL–28 problem. The Soviets would make some headway with their arguments on the IL–28’s—their relatively obsolete character, limited range, and so forth. But Cuba’s unwillingness to cooperate with the [Facsimile Page 11] UN is our most persuasive debating point in a UN body.

4. There would be no exchange of declarations between the US and USSR. In the Security Council, we would submit a resolution along the following lines:

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The Security Council

Noting the exchange of letters of October 27–28, 1962 between President Kennedy and Chairman Khrushchev;

Noting with satisfaction that certain offensive weapons and related facilities have been removed from Cuba;

Deeply concerned that there still remain in Cuba weapons with offensive capabilities;

Believing that the threat to the security of the Western hemisphere and the peace of the world would be removed by withdrawal of IL–28 bombers under appropriate verification;

Believing further that steps should be taken to safeguard against the future reintroduction of offensive weapons in Cuba;

1. Calls upon the USSR, pursuant to commitments undertaken by Chairman Khrushchev, to remove from Cuba under appropriate UN observation and supervision all remaining offensive weapons; and to refrain from reintroducing such weapons into Cuba.

2. Authorizes and requests the Acting Secretary General to establish and dispatch a UN presence, with appropriate technical staff, with a view to verifying the removal of all remaining offensive weapons and to assure against their future reintroduction into Cuba;

3. Calls upon the government of Cuba to agree forthwith to the establishment of such a UN presence, pending the establishment of the arrangements envisaged in paragraph 5 of this resolution.

4. Calls for termination of the measures of quarantine directed against military shipments to Cuba at such time as the Secretary General reports compliance with this resolution;

5. Endorses the resolution adopted by the General Assembly recommending that countries of Latin America negotiate arrangements to establish a denuclearized zone with appropriate verification and urges that discussions on this matter among the countries concerned start forthwith;

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6. Commends the Secretary General for his efforts and requests him to continue to render such assistance as may be appropriate to all concerned.

  1. Courses of action if Soviets stall on removal of IL–28s from Cuba. Top Secret. 13 pp. DOS, S/S Files: Lot 65 D 438, Psalm Documents.