ANN: The Jupiter Missiles and the Endgame of the Cuban Missile Crisis, 60 Years Ago

Michael Evans Discussion

Turkey’s Defense Minister: Removal of Jupiters Would Hurt “Confidence” in U.S., Depress Morale

Kissinger: “Almost Everyone” in Italian Leadership Believed There Was U.S.-Soviet Agreement on Jupiters

Part I: U.S. Demarches to Italy and Turkey and Their Reactions

Edited by William Burr and Leopoldo Nuti

Washington, D.C., February 16, 2023 - Harvard professor Henry A. Kissinger discussed the U.S. withdrawal of Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) from Italy during January 1963 talks with top Italian officials and diplomats, according to a newly published declassified telegram from the U.S. Embassy in Rome. The future Secretary of State told the Embassy that “almost everyone” he talked to in Italy believed there was a U.S.-Soviet “agreement” on the Jupiter withdrawal and that President Antonio Segni felt some “pique” that, even though the decision had been made at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, three months had passed before his government finally learned about it.

Kissinger and his Italian interlocutors had no inside knowledge of White House policymaking but they touched on one of the biggest secrets of the Missile Crisis: the undisclosed deal between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev by which the U.S. would remove Jupiter missiles in Turkey—and by extension, the Jupiters in Italy—as part of the bargain for the removal of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Kissinger’s report on Italian suspicions is one of 35 declassified documents published today by the National Security Archive and the Wilson Center’s Nuclear Proliferation International History Project on the implementation of the secret agreement that ended the Missile Crisis.

This posting, the first of two parts, helps reconstruct the main elements of the endgame of the Cuban Missile Crisis through January 1963. Documents published today illuminate the reactions of senior Italian and Turkish officials to U.S. proposals to remove Jupiter missiles and replace them with Polaris submarine patrols in the Mediterranean. Others reveal that Turkish Defense Minister İlhami Sancar expressed concern to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara about the impact that withdrawal of the Jupiters would have on his country’s “confidence” in the U.S. and the possibility of a “depression” in Turkish morale.

Other documents shed light on interactions with senior Italian officials, including Defense Minister Giulio Andreotti, who told the U.S. that Jupiter withdrawal would be a “graphic step backward” in terms of Italy’s participation in nuclear deterrence. The Italian Government nevertheless proved willing to reach an understanding, as indicated in the diary entries of Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani, published here for the first time.

Part II of this posting will document efforts to reach agreement with Turkey’s reluctant military leaders, to bring NATO into the understanding on the Jupiters, and to negotiate a formal agreement with Italy.