100. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization 0

Topol 578. USRO pass Embassy.

The President desires that your briefing of NATO be essentially factual and reflect clear determination of US Government to press on its present course as reflected in (1) White House statement issued noon Saturday on continuing buildup, (2) President’s message to Khrushchev released White House Saturday evening, (3) announcement by DOD of continued surveillance, and (4)DOD announcement call up of Air reserves (all contained wireless file).

You can report that message from Khrushchev to President received night October 26 (being repeated Finletter, Paris and London only), while full of polemics, seemed to offer real hope solution could be found within framework supervised withdrawal offensive weapons from Cuba in exchange for commitment by United States not invade Cuba. U Thant’s conversations in New York and broad hints in Cuban speeches at UN also seemed offer hope settlement along these lines could promptly be reached. Khrushchev’s message to U Thant agreeing keep Soviet vessels temporarily outside quarantine area also seemed favorable sign.

These hopes have been diminished by subsequent public letter from Khrushchev to the President linking Cuban settlement to withdrawal of NATO Jupiters from Turkey, but we continue to press for solution in Cuban framework alone.

The situation as we see it is increasingly serious and time is growing shorter. The United States remains determined to insure removal of offensive installations in Cuba. We are combining reasonable diplomatic offers and military pressure in even balance to this end.
But construction on the missile sites continues and there is every indication that more of the missiles are becoming operationally ready. Moreover, unarmed US military aircraft which today were conducting publicly announced surveillance over Cuba were exposed to intensive ground fire and one of these aircraft is missing.
At the same time, Soviet vessels are also continuing to proceed toward the quarantine area in direct violation of Khrushchev’s assurances to U Thant, although the Soviet Government was officially informed of the limits of the quarantine area by both U Thant and the United States Government. At the present rate of speed the first vessel will reach the quarantine area during daylight Sunday and an incident may occur.
In these circumstances the United States Government may find it necessary within a very short time in its own interest and that of its fellow nations in the Western Hemisphere to take whatever military action may be necessary to remove this growing threat to the Hemisphere.
In the light of the developing possibility of the necessity for action in Cuba, the President has instructed you to bring this matter fully to the attention of the NAC. You should say that while the US holds to the position that this matter should be settled within framework of the Western Hemisphere, we have taken note of the Soviet public message to President of October 27th in which a connection is made between NATO defenses and Soviet action in Cuba. This Soviet position increases the possibility that US military action in Cuba may result in some Soviet moves against NATO. In these circumstances the US feels it essential to inform its allies and to consult with them on the general situation.
FYI. It is of the utmost importance that nothing in your discussion should hint of any readiness to meet Soviet Jupiter exchange proposal, but it is equally important that you should allow free expression of European views, whatever they may be. In stimulating free response, you should strongly press the point that US action in Cuba—if it becomes essential—will be directed at a potential threat to the total strategic balance endangering other NATO countriesat least as much as the United States. End FYI.
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Executive Committee, Vol. I, Meetings 6-10. Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Bundy and U. Alexis Johnson, cleared by EUR and NEA, and approved by U. Alexis Johnson. Repeated to all other NATO capitals eyes only info Ambassadors and New York.