U.S. Imposes Arms Blockade on Cuba Because of the New Offensive-Missile Site
Asserts Russians Lied and Put Hemisphere in Great Danger
By ANTHONY LEWIS
Special to The New York Times
Washington, Oct. 22--President Kennedy imposed a naval and air "quarantine"
tonight on the shipment of offensive military equipment to Cuba.
In a speech of extraordinary gravity, he told the American people that
the Soviet Union, contrary
to promises, was building offensive missiles and bomber bases in Cuba. He said the bases could
handle missiles carrying nuclear warheads up to 2,000 miles.
Thus a critical moment in the cold war was at hand tonight. The President
had decided on a direct
confrontation with--and challenge to--the power of the Soviet Union.
Direct Thrust at Soviet
Two aspects of the speech were notable. One was its direct thrust at the
Soviet Union as the
party responsible for the crisis. Mr. Kennedy treated Cuba and the Government of Premier
Fidel Castro as a mere pawn in Moscow's hands and drew the issue as one with the Soviet
The President, in language of unusual bluntness, accused the Soviet leaders
of deliberately "false
statements about their intentions in Cuba."
The other aspect of the speech particularly noted by observers here was
its flat commitment by the
United States to act alone against the missile threat in Cuba.
Nation Ready to Act
The President made it clear that this country would not stop short of military
action to end what he
called a "clandestine, reckless and provocative threat to world peace."
Mr. Kennedy said the United States was asking for an emergency meeting
of the United Nations
Security Council to consider a resolution for "dismantling and withdrawal of all offensive
weapons in Cuba."
He said the launching of a nuclear missile from Cuba against any nation
Western Hemisphere would be regarded as an attack by the Soviet Union
against the United States. It would be met, he said, by retaliation against the
He called on Premier Khrushchev to withdraw the missiles from Cuba and
"move the world back from the abyss of destruction."
All this the President recited in an 18-minute radio and television address
grimness unparalleled in recent times. He read the words rapidly, with little
emotion, until he came to the peroration--a warning to Americans of the
"Let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which
have set out," the President said. "No one can foresee precisely what course it
will take or what costs or casualties will be incurred."
"The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths
are--but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a
nation and our commitments around the world," he added.
"The cost of freedom is always high--but Americans have always paid it.
one path we shall never choose is the path of surrender or submission.
"Our goal is not the victory of might but the vindication of right--not
the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere
and, we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved."
The President's speech did not actually start the naval blockade tonight.
meet the requirements of international law, the State Department will issue a
formal proclamation late tomorrow, and that may delay the effectiveness of
the action as long as another 24 hours.
Crisis Before Public
The speech laid before the American people a crisis that had gripped the
highest officials here since last Tuesday, but had only begun to leak out to the
public over the weekend. The President said that it was at 9 A. M. Tuesday
that he got the first firm intelligence report about the missile sites on Cuba.
Last month, he said, the Soviet Government publicly stated that its military
equipment for Cuba was "exclusively for defensive purposes" and that the
Soviet did not need retaliatory missile bases outside its own territory.
"That statement was false," Mr. Kennedy said.
Just last Thursday, he continued, the Soviet foreign minister Andrei A.
Gromyko, told him in a call at the White House that the Soviet Union "would
never become involved" in building any offensive military capacity in Cuba.
"That statement was also false," the President said.
Appeal to Khrushchev
He made a direct appeal to premier Khrushchev to abandon the Communist
"course of world domination." An hour before the President spoke, a personal
letter from him to Mr. Khrushchev was delivered to the Soviet government in
Mr. Kennedy disclosed that he was calling for an immediate meeting of the
Organ of Consultation of the Organization of American States to consider the
The O.A.S. promptly scheduled an emergency session for 9 A.M. tomorrow.
State Department officials said they were confident of receiving the necessary
14 votes out of the 20 nations represented.
The President said the United States was prepared also to discuss the
situation "in any other meeting that could be useful." This was taken as an
allusion to a possible summit conference with Mr. Khrushchev.
But the President emphasized that discussion in any of these forums would
undertaken "without limiting our freedom of action." This meant that the
United States was determined on this course no matter what any international
organization--or even the United States' allies-- might say.
Support from Congress
Congressional leaders of both parties, who were summoned to Washington
today to be advised by the President of the crisis and his decision, gave him
Mr. Kennedy went into considerable detail in his speech in outlining the
of the military threat in Cuba, and this country's response.
He said "confirmed" intelligence indicates that the Cuban missile sites
One kind, which his words implied were already or nearly completed, would
be capable of handling medium-range ballistic missiles. The President said
such missiles could carry nuclear weapons more than 1,000 nautical miles--to
Washington, the Panama Canal, Cape Canaveral or Mexico City.
The second category of sites would be for intermediate range ballistics
missiles, with a range of more than 2,000 miles. The President said they could
hit "most of the major cities in the Western hemisphere" from Lima, Peru, to
Hudson's Bay in Canada.
Mr. Kennedy declared:
"This urgent transformation of Cuba into an important strategic base by
presence of these large, long-range and clearly offensive weapons of sudden
mass destruction constitutes an explicit threat to the peace and security of all
He said the Soviet Union's action was "in flagrant and deliberate defiance"
the Rio (Inter- American) Pact of 1947, the United Nations Charter,
Congressional resolution and his own public warnings to the Soviet Union.