The New York Times
October 23, 1962

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 in the
                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
                Soviet Union.

                He called on Premier Khrushchev to withdraw the missiles from Cuba and so
                "move the world back from the abyss of destruction."

                All this the President recited in an 18-minute radio and television address of a
                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
                dangers ahead.

                "Let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which we
                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. And
                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 peace at
                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. To
                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 be
                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
                unanimous backing.

                Mr. Kennedy went into considerable detail in his speech in outlining the nature
                of the military threat in Cuba, and this country's response.

                He said "confirmed" intelligence indicates that the Cuban missile sites are of
                two types.

                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 the
                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
                the Americas."

                He said the Soviet Union's action was "in flagrant and deliberate defiance" of
                the Rio (Inter- American) Pact of 1947, the United Nations Charter,
                Congressional resolution and his own public warnings to the Soviet Union.