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Cuban Missile Crisis turns 60 | GZERO Media

Cuban Missile Crisis turns 60

Sixty years ago, the world got as close it's ever been to nuclear war.

For 13 days, the US and the USSR played a dangerous cat-and-mouse game over Soviet nuclear missiles parked in Cuba. The Cold War nearly got hot.

In the end, a shared sense of humanity allowed a diplomatic solution. The world breathed a sigh of relief.

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Annie Gugliotta

Another nuclear showdown?

Sixty years ago on Friday, Maj. Richard Heyser took hundreds of photos of suspicious installations in the Cuban countryside from a US spy plane. Close inspection of the photos back in Washington revealed that the Soviet government, then led by Nikita Khrushchev, had secretly installed missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads over 90 miles of ocean to hit targets across much of the United States. You can hear audio recordings of the initial White House discussion of this threat here.

Over the following days, the White House and Kremlin found themselves looking for ways to avoid nuclear war. The crisis was resolved when a deal was reached that pulled the Soviet missiles from Cuba and later withdrew US missiles from Turkey.

Today, a Kremlin leader has created a new crisis. A Russian invasion has produced a military stalemate in the south and east of Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin has warned that nuclear weapons remain an option for Russia if he believes his country’s national security is threatened. Other Russian officials and allies have issued more explicit threats. President Joe Biden has invoked “the prospect of Armageddon” and spoken about lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis that might help avert catastrophe today.

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