S/SNSC files, lot 63 D 351, NSC 170 Series

Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson) to the Secretary of State1

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  • NSC 170, “U.S. Objectives and Courses of Action in Korea”


This report to the National Security Council by the National Security Council Planning Board is a draft statement of overall policy on Korea. If adopted, it will supersede the current NSC policies on Korea contained in the reports listed on the first page of the document.2 With very minor exceptions, NSC 170 contains no new policy proposals and is merely an orderly compilation and presentation of existing policies with which you are familiar.

In its review, however, FE has found a number of statements in this report which I believe could be improved. FE therefore transmitted a memorandum to Mr. Bowie suggesting that we try to get planning board approval of a number of changes. (I have attached a copy of this memorandum for your information.) We do not know as yet what action, if any, the planning board took today on these suggestions. I believe, however, that there are a sufficient number of changes that would be worthwhile making to justify postponing approval of NSC 170 as it now stands until the planning board has taken another look at the report in the light of our suggestions.

The Department wishes to call to the attention of the National Security Council that the new reimbursement policy set forth in Annex B of this document cannot be implemented because, to date, the opinion of [Page 1614] the Attorney General as to its legality has not been rendered. The Department urges that the NSC give consideration to steps which could be taken to expedite the formulation of the aforementioned legal opinion. It will then become possible for the Department to carry forward its negotiations looking toward the settlement of bills with Governments which have received logistic support from the U.S. It would also help to stimulate replacements for a limited number of U.S. troops by troops from other U.N. Members within the levels set forth in the Armistice Agreement.


That you not approve NSC 170 until further staff work has been done by the National Security Council Planning Board.
That you urge the National Security Council to give consideration to steps which could be taken to expedite the formulation of a legal opinion by the Attorney General on the new reimbursement policy set forth in Annex B of NSC 170.


Memorandum to the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Bowie)3

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United States Objectives And Courses Of Action In Korea Changes Proposed By State To Ncs 170

Page 1, para 1

The long-range U.S. objective with respect to the Korean problem is to bring about the unification of a free Korea with a self-supporting economy and under a free, independent and representative government, friendly toward the United States, with its political and territorial integrity guaranteed by international agreement and with armed forces sufficient for internal security and capable of defending Korean territory short of an attack by a major power.

Page 6, para 9a

a. Continue to seek, by political negotiations between the Communists and the UN (with the Republic of Korea associated with the latter), a unified and neutral Korea under a substantially unchanged ROK under an independent and representative government To this end be prepared to accept:

Page 6, para 9a(2)

(2) Mutual guarantees with the Communists United States and Communist guarantees for the territorial and political integrity of Korea under the [Page 1615] ROK but foregoing all rights granted to the United States under a U.S–Korean mutual assistance pact; and

Page 7, para 10

Delete the word “indefinitely” in brackets in line 5.

Page 8, para 10f(1)

Substitute in line 2 the word “maintaining” for “carrying” and the word “in” for “into.”

  1. This memorandum was drafted by Jones of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs.
  2. The reference was to a covering note by Lay to NSC 170, not printed, but see footnote 1 p. 1600.
  3. The source text did not indicate who in FE drafted this memorandum.