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Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between President Kennedy and Prime Minister Macmillan

October 22, 1962.

[Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Cuba, General. Top Secret; Eyes Only. The source text bears no drafting information. No time appears on the source text. Kennedy refers to it as happening "one hour" after Rusk gave Dobrynin the message to Khrushchev, but that would be during the address to the nation. Macmillan states that the conversation took place at 11:30 p.m. London time. (Harold Macmillan, At the End of the Day, 1961-1963, p. 194)]

The clandestine way that the Soviets have made their build-up in Cuba would have unhinged us in all of Latin America. To allow it to continue would have thrown into question all our statements about Berlin.

PM spoke.

We have the potential to occupy Cuba but we didn't start that way.

There would be a gap of some days before invasion could be mounted. Preparations for invasion would have public notice. This way provides action without immediate escalation to war.

Action is limited now. Greater force would give him the same excuse in Berlin.

It may be necessary to expand blockade to include fuel, lubricants and so forth.

PM spoke. (about possible Russian actions)

He may require us to seize their ships by force.

There is no telling what he will do--probably it will be something in Berlin.

PM spoke.

We have had no plan to invade Cuba. We must get their missiles out. What exchange possible is not known. But getting the missiles out is the object of our policy.

We are aware that this action is not complete application of force--does not immediately solve the problem.

The alternatives were air strike or invasion. These may be necessary but going completely into Cuba now invites him into Berlin.

PM spoke.

If we had the force on hand to take Cuba tonight that would be okay, but it would take a week to build up.

Prime Minister spoke.

We are attempting to begin the escalation in a way to prevent WW III. Maybe this will result anyway, but we cannot accept his actions.

PM spoke. (about talking to K on phone)

No, but I sent a letter to him one hour ago.

Khrushchev is playing a double game. He said he wasn't going to do anything until after the election. He said weapons in Cuba were not offensive.

It is obvious that he was attempting to face us in November with a bad situation.

PM answered.

Mr. Bundy suggested the following point which the President made.

The build-up in Cuba, if completed, would double the number of missiles the Soviets could bring to bear on the U.S. They would also overcome our warning system which does not face south. Furthermore, the short distance involving short times of flight would tempt them to make a first strike.

PM spoke.

Some action was necessary. It could result in WW III; we could lose Berlin.

PM spoke.

Invasion may yet be required. It requires seven days for mobilization of the necessary forces. In any event we won't invade until I speak again with you.

PM spoke.

It faces Khrushchev with action taken which has unpleasant options for him also.