732. Special National Intelligence Estimate No. 85–4–63, December 181

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To estimate the likelihood that the Soviets will transfer the surface to air missile system to Cuban control and to assess the implications of such a transfer, particularly with respect to U–2 reconnaissance overflights.

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A. There is an impressive body of evidence that the Soviets are preparing to turn over operation and control of the SAM system to the Cubans by next summer, possibly as early as April. They must be aware that a turnover of the SAM system to Cuban control would transfer to Castro an additional capability to create an international crisis. Over the coming months the Soviets almost certainly will be reviewing this course of action and reassessing the risks involved. Before coming to a final decision, they might seek to persuade the US to discontinue or to curtail the overflight program, and the Cubans might carry on a parallel diplomatic and propaganda campaign. (Paras. 2–4, 10–14, 17)

B. The Soviets still control the SAM system. However, the training of Cubans is well along, and a limited Cuban capability—that is, enough partially trained Cubans in place at some sites to fire a missile—probably is now in being. (Paras. 2, 3)

C. Cuban control of the SAM system would increase the possibility of a U–2 shootdown. Hostile action could result from orders by Castro—particularly if he assessed that such action would not result in immediate and serious consequences—or from unauthorized action. (Paras. 15–18)

  1. “Soviet Transfer of the Surface to Air Missile System to Cuba.” Top Secret. 2 pp. CIA Files: Job 79–R01012A, ODDI Registry.