John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), JFK, was an American politician who served as the 35th United States President from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963.
Initiated 17 March 1960 by U.S. President Eisenhower
- Cuban Project
As soon as U.S. President John F. Kennedy was inaugurated into office on January 20, 1961, he was married into the CIA's “Cuban Project.” Under former President Eisenhower, the U.S. government formally authorized Cuban Project on March 17, 1960, when Eisenhower signed off on a CIA paper entitled “A Program of Covert Action Against the Castro Regime.” Cuban Project was a secret program against Cuba aimed at removing Communists from power. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) carried out extensive campaigns of terrorist attacks against civilians and covert operations in Cuba. A document from the United States Department of State noted that the project aimed to "help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime," including its leader Fidel Castro, and that it aimed "for a revolt which can take place in Cuba by October 1962". US policymakers wanted to see "a new government with which the United States can live in peace". The Cuban Project was an umbrella program that involved U.S. invasion of Cuba, Operation Mongoose, and Operation Northwoods.
President John F. Kennedy authorized the April 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion. It was an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro from the Cuban government but failed. On the night of 17 April, the main U.S. invasion force, coordinated by the CIA, landed on the beach at Playa Girón in the Bay of Pigs. Although the U.S. invasion initially overwhelmed a local revolutionary militia, they lost the strategic initiative. When the international community found out about the invasion, John F. Kennedy decided to withhold further air support. An FOIA enabled 1,200 pages of documents to be released in 2011, which revealed that U.S. forces had experienced incidents of friendly fire. The CIA had outfitted B-26 bombers to appear as Cuban aircraft, having ordered them to remain inland to avoid being fired upon by American-backed forces. However there were planes that did not heed the warning which came under fire. According to CIA operative Grayston Lynch, "we couldn't tell them from the Castro planes. We ended up shooting at two or three of them. We hit some of them there because when they came at us... it was a silhouette, that was all you could see."
John F. Kennedy authorized Cuban Project: Operation Mongoose on November 30, 1961.
In March 1962, John F. Kennedy rejected Cuban Project: Operation Northwoods, which proposed plans to engage in false flag hijackings and attacks directly targeting U.S. civilian and U.S. military ships and aircraft, in order to gain U.S. congressional approval for a war against Cuba.
Meanwhile, John F. Kennedy increased the number of American military advisers in South Vietnam, known as the Strategic Hamlet Program (SHP) in 1962. It was a plan to combat communist insurgency in the countryside among the rural population. The strategy was an attempt to isolate the rural population from having contact with the Viet Cong.
- Soviet escalations
Kennedy's administration involved high tensions with communist states during the Cold War. It began with the deployment of American Jupiter ballistic missiles (Jupiter MRBMs) to Turkey. One Jupiter MRBM squadron totaling 15 missiles was deployed on NATO's southern flank, by USAF, at five sites near İzmir, Turkey from 1961 to 1963. The first flight of three Jupiter missiles was turned over to Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force) in late October 1962 to ease tensions during the Cuba Missile Crisis. But USAF retained control of nuclear warhead arming.
With the deployment of American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Turkey, the USSR was having its own Missile Crisis. In response to the American threat of Jupiter MRBMs in Turkey and Italy, Soviet First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev (USSR) arranged to place nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba. Construction of a number of Soviet missile launch facilities began in the summer of 1962.
During the 1962 United States midterm elections, the White House denied charges for months that it was ignoring dangerous Soviet missiles 90 mi (140 km) from Florida. Soviet missile preparations were confirmed when an Air Force U-2 spy plane produced clear photographic evidence of medium-range R-12 (NATO code name SS-4) and intermediate-range R-14 (NATO code name SS-5) ballistic missile facilities.
When U-2 reconnaissance was reported to John F. Kennedy he then convened a meeting of the nine members of the National Security Council and five other key advisers in a group that became known as the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOMM) beginning 22 October 1962. After consultation with them, Kennedy ordered a naval blockade that same day in an effort to prevent further missiles from reaching Cuba. The US announced it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba and demanded that the weapons already in Cuba be dismantled and returned to the Soviet Union. The incident came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
By mid November 1962, after several days of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between Kennedy and Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would agreed to dismantle offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, if the U.S. dismantles all of Jupiter MRBMs that were deployed in Turkey against the Soviet Union. There is debate on whether or not Italy was included in the agreement.
By 1963, negotiations between the governments of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, focused on a comprehensive ban to prohibit all test detonations of nuclear weapons. The test ban was seen as a means of slowing nuclear proliferation and the nuclear arms race. There was also rising public anxiety over the magnitude of nuclear tests, particularly tests of new thermonuclear weapons (hydrogen bombs), and the resulting nuclear fallout.
A Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) was signed 5 August 1963 before it was opened for signature by other countries. The treaty formally went into effect on 10 October 1963. Since then, 123 other Member States have become party to the treaty. Ten states have signed but not ratified the treaty.
PTBT does not include underground nuclear testing. It was generally agreed that underground nuclear testing was "safer" than other forms of testing. But the "Venting" of underground tests by the US and the Soviet Union released radioactive debris into the atmosphere anyway, and there were concerns that underground testing could cause long-lived radionuclides, including caesium-135, iodine-129, and plutonium, to seep into the ground.