Message from Khrushchev to Kennedy
Text of Khrushchev Message to Kennedy
Moscow Domestic Service In Russian 1400 27 Oct 62 L
(Text) Esteemed Mr. President: I have acquainted myself with much satisfaction with your reply to U Thant to the effect that steps will be taken to exclude contact between our ships and thus avoid irremedable fateful consequences. This reasonable step on your part strengthens my (belief) that you are showing concern to safeguard peace, and I note this with satisfaction.
I have already said that our people and government and I personally, as chairman of the council of ministers, are concerned solely that our countries should develop and occupy a worthy place among people of the world in economic competition, the development of culture and arts, and the raising of the well-being of people. This is the most noble and necessary field for competition, and victors and vanquished will only (word indistinct) from it, because this means peace and increased commodities for the life and enjoyment of man.
In your statement, you supported the opinion that the main aim was not only to come to an agreement and take measures to prevent contact between our ships – and therefore the deepening of the crisis which may as a result of such a contact strike the fire of a military conflict after which all talks would be superfluous, because other forces and laws would come into force – the laws of war. I agree with you that this is only the first step. The main thing that must be done is to normalize and stabilize the state of peace among states and people.
I understand your concern for the security of the United States, Mr. President, because this is the first duty of a president. However, we are worried about the same questions, and I bear the same obligations as Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers.
You have been worried concerning the fact that we have helped Cuba with weapons with the aim of strengthening its defensive capacity – yes, precisely its “defensive capacity” – because no matter what weapons it possesses, Cuba cannot equal you. These are different quantities, all the more so if one takes into consideration the modern means of extermination.
Our aim has been and still is to help Cuba. And no one can deny the humaneness of our motives, which are to enable Cuba to live in peace and develop in the way its people desire.
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Its people desire
(Continuing text) You want to make your country safe. This is understandable, but Cuba, too, wants the same thing. All countries want to make themselves safe.
But how are we, the Soviet Union and our government, to assess your actions which are expressed in the fact that you have surrounded the Soviet Union with military bases, surrounded our allies with military bases, literally disposed military bases around our country, and stationed your rocket armaments there? This is not a secret. American officials are demonstratively saying this. Your rockets are situated in Britain and Italy and aimed against us. Your rockets are situated in Turkey.
You are worried by Cuba. You say that it worries you because it is a distance of 90 miles by sea from the American coast. However, Turkey is next to us. Your sentries walk up and down and look at each other. What do you consider then – that you have the right to demand security for your own country and the removal of those weapons which you call offensive and do not acknowledge the same right for us?
You have placed destructive rocket weapons, which you call offensive, in Turkey, literally at our elbow. How then does admission of our equal military capacities tally with such unequal relations between our great states? This cannot be made to agree in any way.
It is well, Mr. President, that you have agreed to our representatives meeting and beginning talks, apparently through the intermediary of U.N. Acting Secretary General U Thant. Hence he, to some degree, assumes the role of a mediator, and we consider that he is able to cope with this responsible mission if, of course, each side which is drawn into this conflict shows good will. I think that it would be possible to end the conflict quickly and normalize the situation, and then people would breathe more easily, considering that the statesmen who are vested with responsibility, have good sense, an awareness of their responsibility, and the ability to solve complex questions and not bring things to the catastrophe of war.
I therefore make this proposal. We agree to remove from Cuba those means which you regard as offensive means. We agree to carry this out and declare this pledge in the United Nations. Your representatives will make a declaration to the effect that the United States on its part, considering the uneasiness and anxiety of the Soviet state, will remove its analogous means from Turkey.
Let us reach agreement as to the span of time needed for your and us to achieve this. After this, persons enjoying the confidence of the U.N. Security Council might check on-the-spot fulfillment of the pledges assumed. Of course, the authorization of the governments of Cuba and Turkey are necessary for entry into those countries of these plenipotentiaries and for inspection of fulfillment of the pledge assumed by either side.
It would evidently be better if these plenipotentiaries would have the trust of the security council and your trust and mine—of the United States and the Soviet Union – as well as of Turkey and Cuba. I think it will not be difficult to pick such people who would enjoy the trust and respect of all parties concerned.
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All parties concerned.
(Concluding Text) Having taken upon ourselves a pledge to give satisfaction to the hopes of the peoples of Cuba and Turkey and strengthen their confidence in their security. We will make a statement within the framework of the security council to the effect that the Soviet government makes a solemn promise to respect the inviolability of the frontiers and sovereignty of Turkey, not to interfere in its internal affairs, not to invade Turkey, not to make its territory available as a bridgehead for such an invasion, and will also restrain those who contemplate perpetrating aggression against Turkey both from the territory of the Soviet Union and from the territory of other neighbor states of Turkey.
The U.S. government will make a similar statement within the framework of the security council in respect to Cuba. It will declare that the United States will respect the inviolability of the frontiers of Cuba and its sovereignty, undertakes not to interfere in its internal affairs, not to invade, and not to make its territory available as a bridgehead for such an invasion of Cuba, and will also restrain those who might contemplate perpetrating aggression against Cuba, both from the territory of the United States and from the territory of other neighboring states of Cuba.
Of course, for this we would have to agree to some kind of time limit. Let us agree to some period of time, but not to delay – two or three weeks; not more than a month.
The means situated in Cuba which you have stated are perturbing you are in the hands of Soviet officers. Therefore, any accidental use of them to the detriment of the United States is excluded. These means are situated in Cuba at the request of the Cuban government and are only for defensive purposes. Therefore if there is no invasion of Cuba or attack on the Soviet Union or any other of our allies, then of course these means are not and will not be a threat to anyone, for they are not there for the purposes of attack.
If you are agreeable, Mr. President, to my proposal, then we would send our representatives to New York, to the United Nations, and would give them exhaustive instructions in order to come to an agreement quickly. If you also choose your men and give them the corresponding instructions, then this questions can be solved quickly.
Why should I want this? Because the whole world is now perturbed and expects sensible action from us.
The greatest joy for all peoples would be announcement of our agreement on the radical liquidation of the conflict that has arisen. I ascribe great importance to this agreement insofar as it could serve as a good beginning and would, in particular, make it easier to reach agreement on banning of tests of nuclear weapons. The question of tests could be solved in parallel, without connection one with the other, because they are different issues.
However, it is important that agreement be reached on both these issues to present the people a good gift, to please them also with the news that agreement has been reached on the discontinuation of nuclear tests and that consequently the atmosphere will no longer be polluted. Our and your positions on this issue are very close.
All this could possibly serve as a good impetus toward seeking mutually acceptable agreements also on other controversial issues on which we are exchanging views. These issues have not so far been solved, but they are awaiting urgent solution which would clear the international atmosphere. We are ready for this.
These, then, are my proposals, Mr. President.
Respectfully yours, Khrushchev.
To Acting U.N. Secretary General U Thant:
To make it easier for you to carry out your mission regarding negotiations with the interested countries on elimination of the dangerous situation created by the piratical actions of the U.S. government vis-à-vis Cuba and the Soviet Union, the Soviet government has come out with proposals which in our opinion can become the basis for settlement of the conflict which has arisen. These proposals of the Soviet government have been sent to President Kennedy and a copy of them is attached for you.
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