Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Tuesday, October 23, 1962


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) At 7 p.m. (EDT) tonight, President Kennedy signed Proclamation 3504 at his desk in the Oval Office authorizing a naval quarantine of Cuba to take effect at 10 a.m. (EDT) October 24.

   JFK Signs Quarantine Proclamation
                  October 23, 1962
              Photo by Abbie Rowe
                 JFK Library Image

The blockade was announced by the President last night to more than 100 million Americans watching on national television.

JFK waited to sign the proclamation until the Organization of American States approved a resolution to "individually or collectively impose the quarantine of Cuba."

The resolution was passed earlier in the day by a vote of 19-0.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Ambassador Adlai Stevenson made the case for a naval blockade.

Stevenson called Cuba "an accomplice in the communist enterprise of world domination."

Later this evening, the White House received a letter from Chairman Khrushchev in which he did not admit the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba or offer any concessions to the United States.*

*Source:  "TWE Remembers: The OAS Endorses a Quarantine of Cuba (Cuban Missile Crisis, Day 8)," by James M. Lindsay,


In October 1962, at the same time JFK was considering a course of action in the Missile Crisis, the Central Intelligence Agency could not tell him for certain that the Soviet missiles were armed with nuclear warheads.

This is important, because his military advisers were favoring an armed invasion of Cuba by American forces.

Michael Dobbs writes:

"A week after the discovery of the Soviet missiles, CIA analysts were still unable to answer the president's most urgent question: where are the nuclear warheads?"

Dobbs continues....

"The Soviet nuclear arsenal...far exceeded the worst nightmares of anyone in Washington.  

It included....(not only) the ballistic missiles...but (also) an array of smaller weapons that could wipe out an invading army..."

Mr. Dobbs also lists the nuclear warheads that were in Cuba:

36 one megaton for medium range R-12 missiles
36 fourteen kilaton for cruise missiles
12 two kilaton for Lunas
6 twelve kilaton for IL28s

*note: 1 megaton - 1 million tons of TNT, 1 kilaton - 1000 tons of TNT
            the a-bomb dropped on Hiroshima = 15 kilatons**

**Source:  "One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev & Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War," by Michael Dobbs, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008.

              Soviet R-12 Nuclear Missile
             Red Square, Moscow, USSR
                           CIA Photo