Tuesday, October 25, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 2109


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On the tenth day of the Cuban Missile Crisis, fifty-four years ago, October 25, 1962, Soviet ambassador to the United Nations Valerian Zorin refused to answer United States UN ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson's question....

"Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the USSR has placed and is placing, medium and intermediate range missiles and sites in Cuba?"

Zorin was waiting to hear the translation of Stevenson's question from English to Russian in his earpiece, when Stevenson said...

"Yes or no---don't wait for the translation--yes or no?"

Zorin, seemingly taken aback by Stevenson's tactic, replied in Russian...

"I am not in an American courtroom, sir, and I do not wish to answer a question put to me in the manner in which a prosecutor does."

Stevenson countered...

"You are in the courtroom of world opinion right now, and you can answer yes or no. You have denied that they exist, and I want to know if I have understood you correctly."

Zorin replied...

"Continue with your statement. You will receive your answer in due course. Do not worry."

Stevenson, obviously frustrated by Zorin's lack of candor, said...

"I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that's your decision."

When a speaker at the United Nations uses the word "hell,"  you know the situation is bad.

The United States then presented the photographic evidence to prove to the world the Soviet Union had indeed installed nuclear weapons in Cuba.
President John F. Kennedy, concerned about Stevenson's ability to stand-up to Zorin, was watching on television as he sat in his rocking chair in the Oval Office.

When it was over, JFK turned to his aides and said...

"Terrific. I never knew Adlai had it in him."

In an oral history, Joseph Sisco** says that while Adlai had a  prepared speech, his phrase 'until hell freezes over' was "totally ad libbed...there was nothing like that in the text."

*Valerian Zorin (1902-1986) joined the Communist party in 1922 and graduated from the Communist Institute of Education in 1935.  He was ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1947-1955. VZ, who won 3 'Orders of Lenin', was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and UN ambassador from 1956-1965.  He was ambassador to France from 1965-1971.  

**Joseph J. Sisco (1919-2004) was raised in Chicago and graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, IL in 1941.  He was in the army in WWII and earned a Masters and Doctoral degree at the University of Chicago in 1947 and 1950.
In 1950, Sisco became a CIA officer and in 1951 joined the State Dept.  He was Henry Kissinger's chief deputy during the period of shuttle diplomacy in the 1970s.


"'Let Us Begin Anew':  An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency, by Gerald S. and Deborah H. Strober, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 1993.

"One Minute To Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro On The Brink of Nuclear War" by Michael Dobbs, Alfred Knopf, New York, 2008.

Adlai E. Stevenson
June 23, 1961
Library of Congress Photo

UN Security Council
October 25, 1962
PD-USGOV photo