On October 25, the News Letter reported that some of the Soviet bloc ships that had been bound for Cuba “appear to have changed course.”
This was the dramatic announcement made by the US Department of Defense. The defense ministry spokesman added that other vessels were heading for Cuba but “no interception has yet been necessary”.
Meanwhile, global measures were taken to avoid a confrontation in the Caribbean, Mr Khrushchev had said that “Russia would find it useful to have a summit meeting”, and the Burmese diplomat U Thant, acting secretary general of the UN, appealed to President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev.
Mr. Thant’s message to Kennedy and Khrushchev read: “I have been requested by the permanent representatives of a large number of member governments of the United Nations to address an urgent appeal to you in the present critical situation. These representatives believe that, in the interests of international peace and security, all parties concerned must refrain from any action which could aggravate the situation and create a risk of war.
Meanwhile, Mr Khrushchev said in his message in response to Earl Russell, the philosopher, that Russia “would not make any rash decisions”.
He added that “the Soviet government will not allow itself to be provoked by the unjustified actions of the United States”.
He said his government would “do everything in our power to prevent the outbreak of war” but that the U.S. government “must exercise restraint and must stop the realization of its pirate-type threats, which may have the most serious consequences. .
Commenting on the action of the Russian ships, Senator J William Fulbright, chairman of the US Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that he did not necessarily believe that the change in course of some of the Soviet ships meant the Russians were backing down.
“It could very well mean,” he said, “that the Russians want more time to decide what their response will be. I think the result will be known in the next 24 to 48 hours.
The Washington Post quoted Lt. Gen. Vladmir Dubovik, a Soviet military attache, as saying Russian ships sailing to Cuba were under orders not to stop or submit to a search.
“Our ships will sail, and if it is decreed that these men must die, they will obey their orders and stay the course or be sunk.”
During that week in 1962, Mr. Adlai Stevenson bitterly denounced Mr. Valerian Zorin at the United Nations for “distortion and doublespeak” after the Soviet delegate refused a “Yes” or “No” answer to his challenge to deny the existence of Soviet missile bases in Cuba. .
Speaking directly to Mr. Zorin – the October 1962 council chairman – in a voice sharpened with obvious anger, Mr. Stevenson told him that the Soviet missiles in Cuba had to be withdrawn.
Delegates huddled in groups of five or six around an easel Mr. Stevenson had set up in the corner of the council chamber to display enlarged aerial photographs of the bases.
Mr. Zorin fixed his gaze on the horseshoe table in front of him, but Mr. Stevenson continued his commentary on the photos, glancing at them occasionally over his left shoulder.
The US delegate issued his challenge in an almost unprecedented quick exchange with Mr. Zorin.
Mr Stevenson said the United States had proof that Russia had set up the missile facilities and was ready to present it to the council chamber.
“Let me say something else,” he continued, “these weapons must be removed from Cuba.”
Mr. Zorin replied, “I am not in an American courtroom, sir, and therefore do not wish to answer a question put to me in the manner that a prosecutor does. In due time, you will have your answer.
Mr Stevenson said world opinion was waiting for the answer. “Yes or no? I demand to know? he said.
M. Zorin urged him to continue with his declaration, without waiting for the Soviet reply. “You will get the reply in due time, don’t worry,” he said.
The United States delegate said he was prepared to wait for a response “until all hell freezes over if that is your decision and I am also prepared to present the evidence in this room.”
Mr Zorin replied that Ms Stevenson’s demonstration “lacks seriousness”.
“I had a better opinion of you personally, sir,” he said. “Unfortunately, I was wrong.”
He said the United States was trying to distract from its task with “all kinds of doctored photographs like that.”