The Cuban Missile Crisis had just ended, with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s promise to President John F. Kennedy on Oct. 28 1962 that he was withdrawing his strategic nuclear weapons from the island.
But nearly 100 smaller Soviet nuclear warheads were also in Cuba, unknown to the U.S. government at the time and for decades into the future.
Fidel Castro wanted desperately to keep them.
Had Castro prevailed, Cuba would have become a nuclear power. And if Kennedy had known that Khrushchev had all but lied on Oct. 28, the hawks in Washington might have won their push for an all-out U.S. invasion of the island.
Instead, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan, sensing that the “hothead” Castro could not be trusted with any nuclear weapons, got them out of Cuba after telling him that Soviet law did not permit the transfer of nuclear weapons to other countries. More from Juan Tamayo here.