On this anniversary of Cuba's Missile Crisis we consider that this was the closest the world ever came to nuclear war. The US military was at their highest state of readiness and Soviet field commanders in Cuba were reportedly prepared to use battlefield nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded. Luckily, thanks to the bravery of two men, President John F. Kennedy and Premier Nikita Khrushchev, this never occured.
In 1962, the Soviet Union was desperately behind the US in the arms race. Soviet missiles were only powerful enough to be launched against Europe but U.S. missiles were capable of striking the entire Soviet Union. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba. A deployment in Cuba would double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union.
Fidel Castro wanted to defend Cuba from an attack by the US, following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, Castro feared a second attack was on its way. Consequently, he approved of Khrushchev's plan to establish nuclear missiles on the island. In the summer of 1962 the Soviet Union worked quickly and secretly to build its missile installations in Cuba.
Take a listed to the conversation between JFK and Ike.