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MRBM Field Launch Site

High altitude aerial reconnaissance photograph of medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) launch site number 2 in San Cristobal, Cuba.

United States. Department of Defense
1962 October 14

PX66-20:8, Briefing Board #08: MRBM Field Launch Site / San Cristobal No. 2, October 14, 1962, United States Department of Defense, Department of Defense Cuban Missile Crisis Briefing Materials, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston,

This photograph was taken by a US spy plane on October 14, 1962. It shows a construction site for a launch site for nuclear missiles in Cuba. In the summer of 1962, Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union, and Fidel Castro had made an agreement to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. Castro feared that the United States would invade Cuba and overthrow his government. Khrushchev wanted to have a military base in Latin America and to threaten the United States with nuclear weapons in a neighboring country. The US had already placed similar nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy, which threatened the Soviet Union. What method of waging the Cold War does this source show?

In 1958 and 1959 the United States made agreements with Turkey and Italy to deploy Jupiter medium-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching targets in the western region of the Soviet Union, including Moscow and St. Petersburg. The direct threat of nuclear strike by missiles based in NATO states was a major factor in Khrushchev’s decision to deploy missiles in Cuba. Show students a map of the NATO / Warsaw Pact nations and have them identify how the missiles in Turkey and Italy threatened the Soviet Union. The method of waging the Cold War was an arms race with nuclear weapons, creating not only larger numbers and more advanced designs of missiles but also more menacing deployment of those missiles.

This is a black-and-white aerial photograph showing fields, trees, and roads. In four places there are labels by missile launch sites. The caption reads “MRBM Field Launch Site, San Cristobal No. 2, 14 October 1962.”