This photo almost started a nuclear war

  • Published: 31 May 2019
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis began with a photograph.

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    The Cuban Missile Crisis was the closest the world has ever come to all-out nuclear war, and it all started with a photo.

    On October 15th, 1962, Dino Brugioni, a senior analyst at the newly-formed National Photographic Interpretation Center, identified missile trailers measuring approximately 65 feet in an aerial reconnaissance photo. Those trailers were a match for the Soviet SS-4, a medium-range ballistic missile with a range that would cover a huge amount of the United States, including Washington, DC.

    Upon seeing this photo, US President John F. Kennedy ordered more aerial recon flights, conducted by the CIA using the high-altitude U-2 spy plane. He used these photographs to make a plan of action about confronting the Soviet Union over their secretive installation of offensive missiles in Cuba.

    Note: The headline for this video has been updated since publishing.
    Previous headline: The photo that prevented a nuclear war

    Darkroom is a series from Vox producer Coleman Lowndes that digs into stories of the past, one photograph at a time. Watch all the episodes here: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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Comments • 1 232

  • Vox
    Vox   5 months back

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    • Alexcenio Gaming
      Alexcenio Gaming  1 months back

      USA place nukes in Turkey
      *Ussr plays uno reverse card*

  • syed rafi
    syed rafi  4 days back

    President john f. kennedy killed by rothchild family because only he was against of the federal reserve bank of usa

    • SSRv4 Gaming Grounds
      SSRv4 Gaming Grounds  6 days back

      *57 years ago, this day*

      • queensussk
        queensussk  1 weeks back

        Lots of people complaining about USA in the comments. Before you do that please think whether you would want any other country to become a superpower and fight for the human rights of other people. If it had not been for USA the world would have been much worse off and I for one would not want Russia/China to be the number one superpower in the world; both of them do not respect human rights and they would push the world in a negative direction. . So stop the complaining - USA inspite of all its faults has done the world a lot more good than any other country on earth. And I am not an American - I come from Asia. But I have sense enough to see that USA has pushed the world in a positive direction.

        • Joko Mandiri
          Joko Mandiri  1 weeks back

          Better dead than red

          • Yury Himin
            Yury Himin  2 weeks back

            Feels good to see you fellas looking beyond this misinformation. Hello from Russia

            • Bruh Momentus
              Bruh Momentus  2 weeks back

              US and USSR: **Almost destroys the world**

              Britain and France: _yeah imma just head out_

              • Cyrus jamito
                Cyrus jamito  4 weeks back

                Cuba missle crisis

                • Night demon
                  Night demon  1 months back

                  Now it’s America vs North Korea

                  • xi avianna
                    xi avianna  1 months back

                    When you learn more on YouTube than school 😮

                    • Lucy
                      Lucy  1 months back

                      is it just me or does this video make the soviet union look incredibly lame? like y’all let american our TWO missile sites in range of the soviet union but got talked out of establishing just one??

                      unless getting caught and using the cuba missiles as leverage was their plan all along....

                      • TheKrackenX42
                        TheKrackenX42  1 months back

                        Photogrammetry sounds a lot like what the game theorist do to video games...
                        Just saying

                        • Olvin Fuentes
                          Olvin Fuentes  1 months back

                          Trump would have invaded Cuba and lost

                          • Marvin Colon
                            Marvin Colon  1 months back

                            So close

                            • Stoney Montana Music
                              Stoney Montana Music  2 months back

                              Usually i aint one of these types of people, but it is so American of us to put missiles in countries surrounding THEIR country, but when they do it to us THEN its a problem

                              • Shannon Briggs
                                Shannon Briggs  2 months back

                                Of course the US is involved

                                • Fly
                                  Fly  2 months back

                                  More like "This photo prevented a nuclear war"

                                  • kucker karlson
                                    kucker karlson  2 months back

                                    My gramps was bunkered down in the silos waiting to press the button during this

                                    • Coin collector Me
                                      Coin collector Me  2 months back

                                      Next to my house in a middle site placed during the missile crisis

                                      • Charles Novak
                                        Charles Novak  2 months back

                                        As of note, the site removed in Europe were of intermediate range and were planned for removal in the near future regardless.

                                        • Vansh Sharma
                                          Vansh Sharma  2 months back

                                          U could have talked about vasilli arkhipov

                                          • JAMES BTC
                                            JAMES BTC  2 months back

                                            America: *puts missile in Turkey*
                                            USSR: *puts missile in Cuba*

                                            America: :O

                                            • carlos ojeda
                                              carlos ojeda  2 months back

                                              La Li Lu Le Lo

                                              • Cheybat
                                                Cheybat  2 months back

                                                The us placed missiles in Turkey

                                                • CatAsTrophy
                                                  CatAsTrophy  2 months back

                                                  The same thing happens today, as Trump withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on 2 August after accusing Russia of violating it, having no appropriate proofs. But Trump ain't Kennedy, it won't end well 😕

                                                  • Luigi
                                                    Luigi  2 months back

                                                    kenndey is probably the most intelligent president

                                                    • David Hill
                                                      David Hill  2 months back

                                                      JFK's cool head was a blessing

                                                      • dchevron77
                                                        dchevron77  2 months back

                                                        One of the better videos vox has published recently. Great stuff!

                                                        • Karan Singh
                                                          Karan Singh  2 months back

                                                          *Conclusion of the story* : _If USA do , it's right and if someone else do it's wrong._

                                                          • Doodle Doop
                                                            Doodle Doop  2 months back

                                                            Recommended Feed?

                                                            • arunraj3935
                                                              arunraj3935  2 months back

                                                              It was the French intelligence that gave US first clue about missiles

                                                              • Excelsius Dei
                                                                Excelsius Dei  2 months back

                                                                America the only country to get away with attacking a country with nuclear weapons

                                                                • jakarta gamer
                                                                  jakarta gamer  3 months back

                                                                  not a single word of:
                                                                  "America did the first move"

                                                                  the one who makes the entire world is going to end is actually america itself kruschev is actually very reasonable, kennedy want to boost up his ratings aggressiveness to the Soviets

                                                                  • Colin Feely
                                                                    Colin Feely  3 months back

                                                                    What was the UN reaction to the photos ?

                                                                    • Filthy weeb #SBG
                                                                      Filthy weeb #SBG  3 months back

                                                                      this is why JFK got assasinated

                                                                      • Ysabella Williams
                                                                        Ysabella Williams  3 months back

                                                                        You forgot about the ramifications that Cuba felt...I think this should also be discussed!!!!

                                                                        • I Love The Way U lie
                                                                          I Love The Way U lie  3 months back

                                                                          The US and it's allies should blame themselves for helping the soviet against the german in WW2.

                                                                          • Shikhar Shah
                                                                            Shikhar Shah  3 months back

                                                                            What about America placing missiles in Italy and other European nations where they could easily hit Russia.
                                                                            Russians tried to do the same by placing missiles in Cuba

                                                                            • Nitesh Shet
                                                                              Nitesh Shet  3 months back

                                                                              I think the title should be "how this photo stopped nuclear war"

                                                                              • u n a g i
                                                                                u n a g i  3 months back


                                                                                • World Peace
                                                                                  World Peace  3 months back

                                                                                  Could've titled it "This photo prevent a nuclear war".

                                                                                  • varun vedavyas
                                                                                    varun vedavyas  3 months back

                                                                                    Looks like a movie plot.

                                                                                    • Md
                                                                                      Md  3 months back

                                                                                      Can't really blame the soviets for it. USA did the same to them with Berlin, Turkey and Co..

                                                                                      • Mudkip909
                                                                                        Mudkip909  3 months back

                                                                                        Where’s Waldo

                                                                                        • World citizen
                                                                                          World citizen  3 months back

                                                                                          Respect to that US president JFk...your current president is laughing stock to other nation the once mighty country have fall....

                                                                                          • hammad2020i
                                                                                            hammad2020i  3 months back

                                                                                            What hypocrisy. US were the first to put missiles in vicinity of the Soviet. Placing missiles in Cuba was just an insurance policy from Soviets.
                                                                                            Americans started it first.

                                                                                            • danny boi
                                                                                              danny boi  3 months back

                                                                                              Ussr YEETED

                                                                                              • Max Panich
                                                                                                Max Panich  3 months back

                                                                                                As far as Washington DC... hmmm. Sure about that ?