John F. Kennedy thirty-fifth U.S. President
Our unswerving objective, therefore, must be to prevent the use of these missiles against this or any other country, and to secure their withdrawal, or elimination, from the Western Hemisphere. On October 22, 1962, in a nationally televised address, President John F. Kennedy disclosed that U.S. spy planes had discovered the placement of Soviet offensive missiles in Cuba. The president announced that he was ordering a naval blockade to prevent Soviet ships from transporting any more missiles or warheads to the island, and explained that the United States would not tolerate the existence of the missile sites currently in place. Over the next six days, the crisis escalated to a breaking point as the world tottered on the brink of full-scale war between the two nuclear superpowers. Finally, on October 28, in exchange for a secret U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba and to dismantle U.S. missile sites in Turkey, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announced his country's willingness to remove the weapons from Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis ended as suddenly as it began, and the world breathed a sigh of relief. In November, Kennedy called off the blockade, and by the end of the year all of the offensive missiles had left Cuba.