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Editorial: Drawing lessons from the Cuban missile crisis amid nuclear threats

In October 1962, during the height of the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had envisioned the use of nuclear weapons. The situation poses the greatest threat to the world since World War II and presents a terrifying prospect of annihilation.

Sixty years later, Moscow is threatening the West with a proposal to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine, putting the world at risk again. The question is how to make use of the lessons learned at that time.

The missile scare erupted after the Soviet Union began building a nuclear missile base in Cuba, not far from the US mainland. The United States responded with a naval blockade to prevent further missile installations in Cuba and threatened full-scale retaliation if the Soviet Union launched an attack. After two weeks of tension, Moscow decided dramatically to withdraw missiles from Cuba, ending the crisis.

Behind the turnaround of the Soviet Union was the pragmatic conclusion of then-Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev. He argued that if war broke out, the Soviet Union would suffer huge losses because it fell behind the United States in nuclear arsenal. As the Soviet Union was preparing to use nuclear missiles secretly deployed in Cuba, Khrushchev apparently feared a large-scale counterattack from the United States, and is said to have tried to avoid isolating the Soviet Union from the international community. I’m here.

After that, U.S. President John F. Kennedy helped break the stalemate by restraining the military and promoting covert diplomacy with Moscow in the midst of a major offensive. After a series of exchanges with Khrushchev, Kennedy finally made a secret proposal that the United States remove Soviet-targeted missiles from Turkey.

Today we are in a very different situation than we were 60 years ago. The scenario at the time called for all-out nuclear war, but today it is said that low-yield tactical nuclear weapons are more likely to be used.

But however small a nuclear weapon may be, its destructive power is still enormous. These weapons can devastate large areas and cause serious humanitarian harm through the spread of radioactive material. It is nothing less than a selfish attitude of the nuclear-weapon states to threaten them with “usable” nuclear weapons.

Once nuclear weapons are used, many years of global efforts towards non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament will come to naught. Russia will face protests from the rest of the world and find itself even more isolated.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine clearly violates international law and has caused numerous civilian casualties. While Ukraine continues to resist with force, Washington can pursue a way out and spearhead ceasefire talks between Moscow and Kyiv.

World leaders are urged to keep diplomatic efforts in mind, bearing in mind the atrocities of the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so that nuclear weapons must never be used again.