Response by the U.S.

After the photographic evidence showing Soviet missiles deployed in Cuba had been confirmed, President Kennedy organised a secret meeting of senior advisors at the White House. These advisors were known as ExComm (Executive Committee of the National Security Council). The group met frequently from 16 October to decide how to respond to the threat. They had several responses to consider. An immediate bombing strike was disregarded straight away as was an appeal to the United Nations- this was felt to be to time consuming.

Eventually they decide to use diplomacy. This narrowed the choice to a naval blockade and ultimatum of a full scale invasion. Finally the blockade was chosen although some members of the group were requesting tougher action.
There were a number of issues surrounding a naval blockade. There was nothing illegal about the missile installations, although they were a threat to the Us, similar missiles were paced in Europe aimed at the USSR. The Americans had concerns that the soviet's reaction to the blockade may turn into escalating retaliation.

Kennedy spoke to the American public and to the Soviet government in a televised address on October 22. He confirmed the presence of missiles in Cuba and announced the decision for a naval blockade as a quarantine zone of five hundred nautical miles (926km) around the Cuban coast. He also warned that the military were prepared for any eventualities, and accused the Soviet union of secrecy and deception. The US received solid support from its European allies although the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, could not understand why a diplomatic solution could not be considered.

Khrushchev sent letters to Kennedy on October 23 and 24. in these he claimed the deterrent nature of the missiles in Cuba and the Soviet Union had peaceful intentions. The Soviets had two different deals delivered to the American government. On October 26, they offered to withdraw the missiles if the US could guarantee they would not invade Cuba or support any invasion. Following this, the next day October 27, the Soviets broadcast on public radio for the withdrawal of the US missiles in Turkey in addition in addition to the demands of the day before.

The crisis peaked on the 27 October when a U-2 aircraft was shot down over Cuba. At the same time Soviet merchant ships were nearing the quarantine zone. Kennedy responded by publicly agreeing to the first Soviet deal and sending his brother Robert F Kennedy to the Soviet embassy to privately agree to the removal of the missiles in turkey. Kennedy requested that Khrushchev keep this second compromise out of the public domain.

The Soviet ships turned back and on October 28, Khrushchev announced that he had ordered the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba. Satisfied that these missiles had been removed, President Kennedy ended the quarantine on 20 November 1962.