The Cuban missile debate in the United Nations (1962)

In October 1962 the Cuban missile crisis was debated in the United Nations General Assembly, with US delegate Adlai Stevenson confronting the Soviet ambassador, Valerian Zoran:

Adlai Stevenson, US ambassador

“I have asked for an emergency meeting of the Security Council to bring to your attention a grave threat to the Western Hemisphere and to the peace of the world. Last night, the President of the United States reported the recent alarming military developments in Cuba…

In view of this transformation of Cuba into a base for offensive weapons of sudden mass destruction, the President announced the initiation of a strict quarantine on all offensive military weapons under shipment to Cuba. He did so because, in the view of my government, the recent developments in Cuba – the importation of the Cold War into the heart of the Americas – constitute a threat to the peace of this hemisphere, and, indeed, to the peace of the world.

The time has come for this Council to decide whether to make a serious attempt to bring peace to the world – or to let the United Nations stand idly by while the vast plan of piecemeal aggression unfolds, conducted in the hope that no single issue will seem consequential enough to mobilise the resistance of the free peoples.

For my own Government, this question is not in doubt. We remain committed to the principles of the United Nations, and we intend to defend them… The crucial fact is that Cuba has given the Soviet Union a bridgehead and staging area in this hemisphere; that it has invited an extra-continental, anti-democratic and expansionist power into the bosom of the American family; that it has made itself an accomplice in the communist enterprise of world dominion.

If the United States and the other nations of the Western Hemisphere should accept this new phase of aggression, we would be delinquent in our obligations to world peace. If the United States and the other nations of the Western Hemisphere should accept this basic disturbance of the world’s structure of power we would invite a new surge of aggression at every point along the frontier. If we do not stand firm here our adversaries may think that we will stand firm nowhere – and we guarantee a heightening of the world civil war to new levels of intensity and peril…”

Valerian Zoran, Russian ambassador

“I must say that even a cursory examination of Mr Stevenson’s statement reveals the totally untenable nature of the position taken by the United States government on the question which it has thought necessary to place before the Council, amid its complete inability to defend this position in the Council and before world public opinion…

Yesterday, the United States Government placed the Republic of Cuba under a virtual naval blockade. Insolently flouting the rules of international conduct and the principles of the Charter, the United States has arrogated to itself the right to attack the ships of other states on the high seas, which is nothing less than undisguised piracy.

At the same time, the landing of additional United States troops has begun at the United States Guantanamo base in Cuban territory, and the United States armed forces are being placed in a state of combat readiness.

The present aggressive actions of the United States of America against Cuba represent a logical stage in that aggressive policy, fraught with the most serious international consequences, which the United States began to pursue towards Cuba in the days of the Eisenhower Administration and which has been continued and intensified by the present United States government…

The falsity of the charges now levelled by the United States against the Soviet Union, which consist in the allegation that the Soviet Union has set up offensive weapons in Cuba, is perfectly clear from the start. The Soviet delegation hereby officially confirms the statements already made by the Soviet Union in this connexion, to the effect that the Soviet government has never sent and is not now sending offensive weapons of any kind to Cuba.”