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The Ireland missile crisis — known as the October crisis in Ireland and the British Isle crisis (Russian: Британские Oстрова кризис, tr. Britanskiye ostrova krizis) in the USSR — was a 13-day confrontation in October 1962 between the Soviet Union and Ireland on one side and the Imperial Federation on the other side. It was one of the major confrontations of the Cold War, and is generally regarded as the moment in which the Cold War came closest to turning into a nuclear conflict. It is also the first documented instance of the threat of mutual assured destruction (MAD) being discussed as a determining factor in a major international arms agreement.
Following the defeat of Vichy France, Russia and Great Britain had emerged as the supreme world powers. Great Britain's development of the atomic bomb ensured that Russia wouldn't be invading across the English Channel any time soon. But Great Britain was definitely being eyed by Stalin. Many summits between the two countries had failed, mainly because of Stalin’s wanton waste of human life, and the Communists regime he controlled.
Times were tense as both sides continued developing atomic weapons. As talks broke down, and both sides began to proliferation their weapons, a “Cold War” began. Both sides would square off in various skirmishes around world, while never squaring off head on. Still, the threat of nuclear war was on everyone’s minds during this era.
The Cold War came to a head on October 14, 1962. A U2 spy plane flying over Ireland had spotted what looked like medium range ballistic missiles stationed. Prime Minister Macmillan immediately began talks with Khrushchev, the Russian premier. Russia had made a treaty with Ireland to place 30 missiles on the island. Ireland was insecure during the turbulent times, and feared the Imperial Federation might again look to the west to expand. They approached Russia, who was only all too eager to place warheads within spitting distance of their main adversary.
To his credit, Macmillan's diplomacy worked, and after 13 days the warheads were removed and shipped back to Russia, letting all of England breathe a little easier.