October 22, 1962.
US President John F Kennedy deploys a fleet of warships to Cuba.
To intercept Soviet cargo ships, which arealready on the way…
…transporting nuclear missiles to the island.
Kennedy strategically called the impendingshowdown: KENNEDY:
“a strict quarantine of all offensivemilitary equipment.”
What it really was,
was a blockade – which is an act of aggression.
One wrong move on either side would trigger an all out nuclear war.
And it all started here, a week earlier.
With an aerial photograph that doesn’t seemto show much…
…unless you’re looking for something specific.
Pretty much immediately following the allied victory in World War II,
the United States and Soviet Union became bitter enemies… …
kicking off a decades-long struggle for global influence known
as the “ Cold War ”.
Espionage and intelligence were at the center
of this conflict, most crucially surrounding
the mutual buildup of nuclear arsenals capable of unprecedented levels of destruction.
But the US initially had a hard time keeping track of their nemesis.
The Soviet Union was notoriously secretive,
and hid itself – and its actions – from the world.
CHURCHILL An iron curtain has descended acrossthe continent.
Nobody knows what Soviet Russia intends to do in the immediate future.
Then-US President Dwight D Eisenhower saw
a solution that built on experimental intelligence
gathering from World War II:
Aerial photo analysis.
In the late 1950s,
the new high-altitude U-2 spy plane took photo reconnaissance to the next level
It was equipped with a powerful camera andcould fly
at a staggering height of 70,000 feet… …or,
roughly 13 miles above Earth’s surface.
“ These cameras are described as capable
of spotting a golf ball on a putting-green
from 40,000 feet.”
In 1961, Eisenhower authorized the creationof a new surveillance arm of the CIA: the
National Photographic Interpretation Center,or NPIC.
This small team of photo interpreters wastrained in photogrammetry…
…the science of determining measurementsfrom photographs.
Using this method,
an expert photo interpreter could identify specific equipment hidden in
the tiny details of photographs…… and recognize signs of nuclear missile site construction.
So what’s all this got to do with Cuba?
After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961,
where the US attempted to overthrow Cuba’s
communist government, ties between the SovietUnion and Cuba strengthened.
The US worried that the Soviets might use Cuba as a nuclear missile base.
If so, they would suddenly have the Western Hemisphere
within range of nuclear weapons.
The CIA began flying U-2 missions
over Cuba and bringing the imagery to the NPIC, whose
photo interpreters pored over every detail,
searching for evidence of Soviet presenceon the island.
It was like looking
for a needle in a mile-long haystack – that’s how much film a single
U-2 mission yields, covering huge amountsof land.
But on October 15th, 1962, Dino Brugioni,
一名高级照片判读者 Dino Brugioni 发现了一些东西
a senior photo interpreter, found something.
This photo proved, beyond doubt,
that the Soviets were building nuclear missile sites in Cuba
Brugioni identified military tents and trucks,arranged in known-Soviet patterns.
Launcher equipment. And,
most critically, missile transport trailersmeasuring 65 feet in length. Which,
when compared to a photo taken in Moscow,
made it a perfect match for the Soviet SS-4… …
which had a range of 1,100 nautical miles,
meaning American cities as far as WashingtonDC would be in reach.
When the NPIC briefed Kennedy on what they’d found,
the president ordered a scaling up
of U-2 missions to photograph and analyzeall of Cuba.
Photo analysts updated Kennedy daily and in secret on their progress,
which gave him time to decide how to confront the Soviet Union.
Given the evidence,
Kennedy was strongly advised to launch air strikes against the missile
sites and invade Cuba.
But he took a more measured approach withhis – KENNEDY:
“strict quarantine of all offensivemilitary equipment.”
Which kicked off 6 intense days between the US and the Soviet Union,
with Soviet Premier
Nikita Krushchev calling Kennedy’s
move “ an act of aggression that pushes mankind
to the abyss of world nuclear missile war.” ARCHIVE:
Round the clock processing
of their film shows that work on the missile sites
is being accelerated.
The damning photos were revealed to allies at the United Nations,
as the US military
rapidly mobilized and was placed on high alert,
and Cuba prepared for another invasion.
But when Soviet freighters reached the quarantineline…. ARCHIVE:
A Soviet-chartered vessel Amaruchla is stopped, boarded,
and inspected, then cleared to proceed to Cuba.
Apparently the Soviet vessels loaded withoffensive weapons have turned back.
A few days later, Kennedy received a messagefrom Kruschev.
The Soviet Union had agreed to withdraw from Cuba
in exchange for the US removing missiles
it had placed in Turkey and Italy. So,
之后 核导弹发射场被拆除 苏联人也离开了
the nuclear missile sites were dismantledand the Soviets left.
Transporting their nuclear missiles with themback across the Iron Curtain.
In a personal thank you letter to the NPIC,
Kennedy emphasized the importance of the “ analysis
and interpretation of the Cuban photography ”
in advising the US’s response in what is now called the Cuban Missile Crisis.
ARCHIVE: In summary:
the Soviet Union did embark upon a bold venture to establish clandestinely
in the Western Hemisphere a major offensiveweapons base.
That they were deterred in this effort is
in large part attributable to the type
of reconnaissance photography that we havejust reviewed.