The Cuban Missile Crisis was a time when tensions were running high in all parts of the world. Many nations were frightened that nuclear war would put everyone in misery. While America was holding their breath as the possibility of nuclear world war grew greater and greater as the Soviet Union continued to supply Cuba with thermonuclear weapons (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=28554&tocid=0).
In 1960, as conflicts arose between Cuba and the United States. During this time Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev secretly began to supply Cuba with missiles that could hit much of the eastern United States within a few minutes if launched from Cuba (Leckie 957). This missiles could easily destroy all of the USs national defense in under 17 Minutes. Khrushchev built 42 secret missile sites (Littell 492), and in 1962 the United States learned that the Soviet Union had begun missile shipments to Cuba by the U-2 spy planes that flew over the island. The photos showed two types of missiles: medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) able to travel about 1100 nautical miles (about 2000 km, or 1300 mi) and intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) able to reach targets at a distance of about 2200 nautical miles (about 4100 km, or 2500 mi) (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=28554&tocid=0). Fear swept over the country and the American citizens supported their president in planning action. (Bender 330). President John F Kennedy warned the soviets the gravest issues would arise if they were to place nuclear weapons in Cuba.
People all over the world feared this standoff would led to World War III and a nuclear disaster (Littell 493). After carefully considering the alternatives of an immediate U.S. invasion of Cuba (or air strikes of the missile sites), a blockade of the island, President John F. Kennedy decided to place a naval quarantine, or blockade, on Cuba to prevent further Soviet shipments of missiles. President John F Kennedy also stated that missile strike launched from Cuba would be considered as an act of war by the Soviet Union. He also made it clear that an attack on the US would result in a direct retaliation on the Soviet Union. During this time, soviet ships bound for Cuba altered this way and began their way back to the Soviet Union.
On October 28, 1962 Khrushchev capitulated, informing Kennedy that work on the missile sites would be halted and that the missiles already in Cuba would be returned to the Soviet Union. In return, Kennedy committed the United States never to invade Cuba. Kennedy also secretly promised to withdraw the nuclear-armed missiles that the United States had stationed in Turkey in previous years. In the following weeks both superpowers began fulfilling their promises, and the crisis was over by late November. Cuba’s communist leader, Fidel Castro, was outraged by the Soviets’ retreat in the face of U.S. power but was powerless to act.
The thaw led to the signing of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963 by Britain, the United States, and the USSR (Leckie 957). The treaty outlawed nuclear test explosions in the atmosphere or underwater, but allowed them underground. This also was the closest our world has ever gotten to a devastating nuclear war. For Americans, the Cuban Missile Crisis was one of uncertainty and fear, many of which thought that their lives were threatened. Most Americans supported their president in not being intimidated by the Soviets shipping nuclear missiles and standing up and defending the American people. Kennedy’s actions altered the history of the world by saving us from nuclear warfare.