U.S. Imposes Arms Blockade on Cuba on Finding Offensive Missile Sites; Kennedy Ready for Soviet Showdown
Special to The New York Times
Washington, Oct. 22 1962
--President Kennedy imposed a naval and air "quarantine" tonight on the equipment 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 missile 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 Government.
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."
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. ..."