The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was a period in which the newly Soviet Union-supported communist island nation of Cuba faced substantial shortage, perceived and real, of medium-range ballistic nuclear missiles. With actions of the United States seen as initiating the shortage and increasing the possibility of a long-term disruption in missile supply to Cuba, tensions between the U.S. and USSR mounted until the whole thing came to a rather anticlimactic end.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which then consisted of 15 countries including the United States, 13 European countries, and Britain, had been formed to resist pressure by the Soviet Union to reduce freedom and nuclear weapons in industrialized countries. NATO soon began to build up nuclear bases in Europe to gain a larger share of nuclear weaponry and thus greater control over which side of Earth would get scorched first. The communist nations of the world thus suddenly faced a unified bloc of freedom and nuclear weapon exporters.
In April 1961, a group of completely random Cuban anti-communist exiles who were absolutely not trained by the CIA in any manner whatsoever—since were they actually supported by the U.S. government, their Air Force would actually have sent some decent aircraft along—attempted to take southern Cuba in an invasion of the Bay of Pigs. The Cuban armed forces were able to distract them with bacon, and the invasion failed after three days. This caused wariness on the part of the U.S., the USSR, and Cuba.
In September 1962, the Soviet Union therefore decided that they would strengthen their defenses in and around Cuba. This new event triggered a crisis that was already about to explode—the price of nuclear warheads in Cuba was going to rise drastically. Already, nuclear weapons production had begun to peak, and Cuba was becoming more and more dependent on foreign exporters; however, the newly ignited Cold War was going to worsen matters. This was stressed privately by President Kennedy:
|“||Of course the price of nuclear weapons in Cuba is going to rise! Certainly! And how ... The Cubans kick our investors out and don't even give them complimentary cigars ... it's only fair that they should pay more for nuclear weapons from now on.||”|
U.S. missile embargo
On 22 October, Kennedy announced the decision to drastically raise the price of nuclear weapons in Cuba from containment to disarmament (i.e. approximately 342%), in response to an "offensive buildup" that endangered North America. In addition, Cuban missile imports would be forced down to zero (a 100% decrease in shipments) and stay there until NATO's economic and political objectives were met by the USSR and Cuba.
For the most part, Cold War economies relied on the proliferation and waving-around of nuclear weapons, and for Cuba, the USSR was its major supplier. With this supply chain broken by the U.S., nuclear weapons prices skyrocketed from $30 billion per fully armed missile to $140 billion per fully armed missile. This almost quintupling of this vital commodity was the first example of a "weapon weapon", i.e. the quarantine of weapons as a sort of weapon through which to wield political, economic, or perhaps even military influence.
Price controls and rationing
Cuban government price controls exacerbated the missile crisis for many Cubans. The price of "old missiles"—missiles already known to be in stock at the time of the crisis—was frozen at $30 billion per fully armed missile, while new missiles could be sold at higher prices. Since the missiles pretty much looked the same—being equally nuclear and equally weapon-like—the government was careful to separate the old and the new lest they mix the two up and be forced to average the prices. However, this eliminated old missiles very quickly from the market and resulted in artificial scarcity of threatening Soviet-engineered weapons in Cuba.
Fidel Castro was thus forced to implement a missile rationing program, effective immediately. He named himself as the chief "global thermonuclear war tsar", a title that conferred upon him the responsibility of overseeing allocation and rationing of the nuclear missile inventory in Cuba. Odd-even rationing was a major provision: a battleship's designation would be checked against the military database, and if the designation ended in an odd number, it would only be allowed to stock missiles on odd-numbered days, and battleships with designations ending in even numbers only on even-numbered days.
In addition, a flag system was quickly improvised for nuclear weapons stations. A Cuban flag or USSR flag denoted that the attendant should fill the flagged battleship up with nuclear weapons either for transport or for arming; a NATO flag denoted that the attendant should fire the nuclear missile right at the battleship. To help further reduce consumption, a national maximum nuclear test limit of one nuclear missile test a month was imposed upon the military, and the limit would be raised to two triggers of mutual assured destruction a month only after the crisis was past.
Search for alternatives
The missile crisis led to greatly increased interest in improvements to and/or alternatives to nuclear WMDs. Indeed, it was a most fortuitous coincidence that this crisis should overlap with increasing popular demand for more environmentally friendly (i.e. "green") methods of potentially destroying the entire world.
- "Destroy Local" campaigns, attempting to encourage consumption of domestically produced missiles, popped up all over Cuba.
- Increased destruction efficiency also became a new priority in designing nuclear warheads—over the next few decades, destruction efficiency would increase from 15/20 cities per warhead (urban/extra urban) to 45/60 cities per warhead.
- In addition, alternative sources of mass destruction were actively researched during and after the crisis, including kamikaze warfare, guerrilla warfare, conventional bombings, and summoning the Devil. This last option was repeatedly attempted, with the only material results being massive records of occult experiments and a poltergeist haunting Fidel Castro's digestive system to this day.
Negotiations to halt the missile embargo had begun in earnest on 26 October with secret negotiations taking place between the U.S. and the USSR via telegraph. After realizing that Khrushchev's letter was not in fact written in broken English, State Department employees began to translate the letter from Russian and found that Khrushchev would be willing to stand down from building up nuclear bases in Cuba. The actual negotiations would take several more tense days.
Nonetheless, on 29 October, the dismantling of the Cuban Soviet defenses began, and about a month later, the U.S. halted its weapons embargo. The Cuban Missile Crisis was finally over.
Cuban confidence in weaponry independence was severely shaken as a result of the missile crisis. Politicians and economists saw the crisis as a sign that they had an addiction to the USSR, and distanced themselves from Khrushchev as well as started a series of economic reforms to address minor issues such as food shortages, sharp decline in GDP, and widespread poverty. This would be made much easier now that missile imports were unrestricted.
Impact on missile industry
Generally, the missile industry was gravely impacted by the missile crisis. Following World War II, all the nations of the world had begun to return to prosperity and the first thing they did to celebrate was buy their first nuclear warhead. As these nations became increasingly prosperous, they used increasingly inefficient and large nuclear missiles, to the extent that half of the Soviet countryside was full of unnecessarily large nuclear warheads disguised as unnecessarily large miniature nuclear warhead toys (for the aspiring evil overlord!).
However, post-crisis, missile manufacturers realized that they needed smaller, more efficiently destructive, and more tightly packable missiles that would be more easily transported to, installed in, and perused by small, Latin American, newly Marxist-Leninist regimes. This way, even if manufacturers were to cause mutual assured destruction of the entire solar system, they'd make some extra profits out of those regimes.