What if Cuba Had Nuclear Weapons?

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was in October of 1962 that then U.S. President John F. Kennedy told the Soviet government then under Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw all long-range nuclear missiles from Cuba or else the United States would bomb the missile sites. At no other point was the world as close to World War III as then. Eventually, the Soviet and U.S. governments had reached secret deals to withdraw each other’s missiles from Cuba and Turkey. This ended the crisis. Or so we thought. There is new information coming out that this was not quite the end as we all believed it was. We must remember that the Soviet Union had complete control mover the long-range nuclear missiles in Cuba, and the Cuban government was never in control of these weapons. When Khrushchev removed the missiles from Cuba, he never consulted with Cuban President Fidel Castro. As a result, Fidel Castro believed that the Soviet Union had betrayed him and his Cuban Revolution. He was beginning to make demands that endangered the Soviet-Cuban alliance.

In order to defuse this, Khrushchev sent his highest emissary, Anastas Mikoyan, to try and negotiate with Castro. Khrushchev had instructed Mikoyan to offer Fidel Castro short-range nuclear missiles that could deter the United States from ever attacking Cuba. If the Cuban military had such weapons, then Khrushchev was convinced that Cuba would stay within the Soviet-Cuban military alliance. After meeting with Castro, Mikoyan realized that he would be opening a pandora’s box by giving Cuba any type of nuclear weapons. Going against the Kremlin itself, Mikoyan managed to reassure Castro that the Soviet Union would defend Cuba and the Cuban government from any attack from the United States or its allies. He never offered the transfer of nuclear weapons to the Cuban military, and in the end Cuba never got nuclear weapons in any form.

Mikoyan had in fact most certainly saved tens of millions of lives if not the whole world. Shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel Castro set off on a program of providing weapons, funds and even troops to revolutionary groups in Latin America and in Africa—much to the chagrin of the Soviet Union. The Cuban government called this its “internationalist duty.” What if that duty included giving these leftist movements nuclear bombs? If the Cuban military had access to not only nuclear weapons but also nuclear weapons technology, how would it have used it? We might have had a Cuban Missile Crisis a hundred times over, and from an island nation that had no real understanding of the weapons in its possession! We all can be thankful by the act of one man who saw the potential danger, and who managed to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Fidel Castro and his Cuban Revolution.

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