New weapons detail reveals true depth of 'Cuban Missile Crisis'

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 13, 2012 12:50 hrs

The Cuban Missile Crisis transpired 50 years ago this October, when Soviet leaders and US pulled back from the very brink of nuclear war.

This was the closest the world has come to nuclear war, but exactly how close has been a matter of some speculation.

The conflict, itself, has been analyzed and interpreted, but the number and types of nuclear weapons that were operational have not.

According to fresh analysis made available on Saturday in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE, senior experts calculate the nature of weapons capabilities on both sides, and write that the situation was even more perilous than history has previously acknowledged.

In their latest issue of "Nuclear Notebook", Robert S. Norris, senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, DC, and Hans M. Kristensen, the director of the FAS's Nuclear Information Project, revisit key information that was available to military and civilian officials in both the United States and the Soviet Union at the height of the crisis, during October and November of 1962.

Several types of US and Soviet nuclear weapons were operational, some on high levels of alert and readily available to use.

In terms of local forces and unknown to the United States, 158 Soviet nuclear warheads of five types were already in Cuba by the time the military blockade was imposed on October 24th.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff considered using nuclear weapons during a Cuban invasion, but by October 31st had decided against this.

In Europe, the United States had approximately 500 nuclear weapons at its disposal to attack targets in the western Soviet Union.

With its 550 nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union had a slightly larger arsenal to hit European targets, the analysis said. (ANI)

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