On this day in October of 1962 – Day 9 of the Cuban Missile Crisis, there were signs the crisis could have a resolution. This address by Ambassador Adlai Stevenson is not the famous showdown with Soviet Ambassador Zorin, but rather an update on the crisis up to that point and the disclosure that the Soviet Union was willing to negotiate the Cuban situation via the United Nations, and further disclosing the U.S. was willing to negotiate as well, based on UN Secretary General U Thant‘s request for a summit conference between Kennedy and Khrushchev.
Before the White House meeting, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was considering escalatory moves, “if we choose to do so.” He asked the Navy to come up with plans and then he asked his Army assistant, Col. Roberts for information on the status of “Lazy Dog,” a plan to use non-explosive pellets to wreck the Soviet missile deployments. As these discussions occurred, the U.S.S. Gearing intercepted a Soviet tanker, the Bucharest at 7:15 am. While the Gearing did not board the Soviet ship, it continued to monitor it all day. Before they went to the ExCom meeting, McNamara and Gilpatric instructed Captain Houser to have the Navy establish a capability to board a non-Soviet ship that day and then a Soviet ship later.
With the Soviets continuing to ready the missile sites, Kennedy and the ExCom ordered a program of low-altitude reconnaissance flights, partly to monitor the activities, but also to provide cover in the event that Kenned approved a raid on the missiles. The ExCom inconclusively discussed the pros and cons of boarding a ship like the Bucharest as well as the possibility of escalating the blockade, which led to an order from McNamara and Gilpatric to Houser and Admiral William Lee for a study. That led to a proposal to expanding the blockade by including jet fuel or missile fuel among other measures. Moreover, Gilpatric called Vice CNO Ricketts with orders not to “stop or harass” the Bucharest, but to “stop and board” a non-bloc tanker, and make preparations for stopping the Grozny the next day. The Navy “Office Log” elucidates the plans for stopping a non-bloc tanker as well the “political” considerations that shaped the decision on the Bucharest: because the Soviets had “backed off, it was decided not to push matters.”
Here is that address from the United Nations.
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