1. Editorial Note

The failure of the Geneva Conference of 1954 to produce an agreed political settlement of the Korean conflict left the Armistice Agreement, signed as a temporary measure on July 27, 1953, as the instrument governing relations between the two opposing sides in the conflict. Implementation of the Armistice Agreement was monitored by the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, a four-nation panel composed of representatives of Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, which was established for that purpose. The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission employed permanent inspection teams at stipulated ports of entry in Korea and had a mandate to investigate suspected violations wherever they occurred. In practice, however, the operations of the inspection teams were limited by the military sensitivity of the contending Korean Governments, and violations of the Armistice were difficult to prove. Increasingly, the United Nations Command and the Republic of Korea came to believe that the military balance in Korea was being upset by the clandestine introduction of advanced military equipment into North Korea in violation of the Armistice Agreement. To restore the military balance upon which they believed the security of Korea depended, U.S. officials determined that the Armistice provisions should be altered to permit an upgrading of military forces south of the demilitarized zone to match that which was occurring in the north. A necessary change, in the opinion of U.S. and South Korean officials, was the elimination or curtailment of the functions of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission. For prior documentation on this and other problems relating to U.S.-Korean relations in the post-Armistice period, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, volume XV. For documentation on the Korean phase of the Geneva Conference, see ibid., volume XVI.