109. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, January 6, 19561


  • Defense
  • Mr. Gordon Gray
  • General Taylor
  • General Fox
  • Department of State
  • Mr. Robert Murphy, G
  • Mr. Walter S. Robertson, FE
  • Mr. Herman Phleger, L
  • Mr. Tapley Bennett, G
  • Mr. Noel Hemmendinger, NA
  • Mr. William G. Jones, NA

Mr. Murphy opened the meeting by suggesting that Mr. Gray might wish to make a statement.

Mr. Gray said he felt there was no point in re-hashing the history of the NNSC problem since those present were even more familiar with that history than he was. The occasion of the meeting, Mr. Gray said, was to discuss the recent telegram in from General LemnitzerDA IN 190875.2 Mr. Gray was disturbed by the tone of frustration [Page 199] in the telegram, by the apparent deterioration in the military position of the UN Command, and by a gross error, he said, he himself had made. He felt that in the last ten days in December when it was apparent that State was not eager to go ahead with instructions to CINCUNC to remove the inspection teams on January [1], he should have informed General Lemnitzer. He now wanted to review the situation. It was said that President Rhee promised a cessation of the anti-NNSC demonstrations for three months in conversations with Congressman Zablocki’s group. General Lemnitzer, he pointed out, had no conviction about the duration of this period.

Mr. Robertson said that he believed there was no dispute on the facts in the situation as presented by General Lemnitzer in his message. We had, however, understood in the past that the military establishment did not contemplate bringing in any special new equipment to replace that which had become obsolete. The imminent need to do so was a new fact. Mr. Robertson then briefly reviewed the negotiations between the Swiss and Swedes and the Czechs and Poles at Panmunjom and in Prague and Warsaw designed to get agreement on moving the inspection teams to the Demilitarized Zone. The Swedes, he pointed out, had made it clear that if the Communists did not agree to this proposition they would have to withdraw from the Commission. Ambassador Boheman had told Mr. Robertson that the Swedes had taken a position which made it impossible for them to back out. The Swiss Counselor, whom Mr. Robertson said he had just seen, stated that the Swiss Government was hopeful the problem could be solved.3 His Government had indications that made them optimistic, but did not believe the matter would be solved before the latter half of this month. By then they hoped to get action. The Swiss were critical of the four-month delay in the acceptance of their earlier proposal for a reduction in the size of the NNSC. They emphasized that they were doing what they thought was right and hoped that no pressure of any kind would be placed on them. Mr. Robertson said that it was difficult to exaggerate the complications which would arise if we were to take unilateral action in removing the teams to the Demilitarized Zone.

Mr. Murphy said the Department felt particularly unhappy about the delay which was involved in dealing with the NNSC. He did feel that had the proposal for a reduction in the size of the Commission been accepted promptly we would now be rid of the NNSC. [Page 200] As it was, he thought it was best to hold off a few weeks more and allow the Swiss and Swedes time to work the problem out.

General Taylor said that several months ago the issue of replacing obsolete equipment had not been so urgent. Now he felt it was a matter of urgency. This was particularly true of the need to introduce new all-weather fighters.

Mr. Murphy said he had understood from Admiral Radford that there was no intention to base any large number of planes in Korea since these would be too close to the front in the event of a surprise attack.

General Taylor said that now they would base some planes in Korea if they could. These would not be in large number. Nevertheless, it was felt very important that the Command be able to move the planes back and forth freely between Japan and Korea. He also said there were new tanks and new types of artillery which would be introduced into Korea if it were not for paragraph 13(d) of the Armistice Agreement. In particular, he mentioned the possibility of introducing the 280 mm atomic cannon.

Mr. Murphy said he believed the Sixteen were generally sympathetic on the question of replacing obsolete equipment. The British had said last year that they thought we ought to go right ahead and replace obsolete equipment where the Command thought it necessary.

General Taylor then said that if the inspection teams were eliminated from the Republic of Korea by Swiss and Swedish actions, General Lemnitzer had suggested two ways in which to handle the introduction of new equipment—first by suspension of paragraph 13(d) and second by simply announcing the fact and explaining it on the basis of an interpretation of paragraph 13(d).

Mr. Phleger said there was no particular connection between what happened to the inspection teams and the replacement of obsolete equipment with new equipment in Korea. If you suspended paragraphs 13(c) and (d), he said, this would pretty well emasculate the Armistice Agreement. It would leave only an agreement not to fight. If this was done, Mr. Phleger thought it should be done in the proper way with proper notification to our Allies. It was a political and not a military decision. The inspection teams were merely incidental and would have no function if you took away paragraphs 13(c) and (d). He suggested that Defense might want to work up an analysis to bring out the reasons justifying the action to suspend paragraphs 13(c) and (d).

Mr. Gray suggested that it might be best to begin discussion with the Sixteen on the question of paragraph 13(d) now.

Mr. Phleger pointed out that if discussions were held with the Sixteen prematurely and the Swiss and Swedes learned of this, we [Page 201] could not expect the Swiss and Swedes to take favorable action on the NNSC by the end of January.

Mr. Hemmendinger pointed out that General Lemnitzer had suggested two distinct ways of dealing with the question of paragraph 13(d). One of these was to suspend the paragraph and the other was to reinterpret the paragraph. He pointed out that a good deal of work already had gone into the preparation of a draft report to the United Nations which would explain the reasons for action by the UN Command to introduce new equipment.

Mr. Robertson read General Lemnitzer’s second alternative and asked whether the group thought this was the best solution.

General Taylor said that either would be all right, although he preferred suspending paragraph 13(d).

Mr. Murphy said he thought it was much easier to handle paragraph 13(d) by interpretation.

General Taylor then asked what clearances would be necessary.

Mr. Murphy said he would call in the Sixteen and tell them what we would propose to do.

Mr. Gray again asked if this could not be done now.

Mr. Phleger said no, he thought not. The teams were to be moved to the Demilitarized Zone on entirely different grounds. It would be best to follow this action somewhat later by action on paragraph 13(d).

Mr. Robertson pointed out that discussion with the Sixteen now would ruin our chances of getting rid of the inspection teams through Swiss and Swedish action. He could say with assurance that the Swedes would much rather we adopt General Lemnitzer’s proposal to dissolve the Commission or remove the teams since they would like nothing better than to get out from under the problem. He referred to the importance of keeping the Armistice Agreement, pointing out that as long as we had the agreement if the Communists violated it there were Sixteen nations who would be ready to retaliate and had made a solemn declaration to this effect.

Mr. Murphy then asked about the timing on action on paragraph 13(d).

Mr. Robertson said he thought we ought to let the dust settle on the NNSC problem for a few weeks or a month before taking any action on paragraph 13(d). The Swiss, he pointed out, were very touchy on the matter and would not want the actions to be so close as to indicate that they might have been connected with the second. He then explained, in answer to General Taylor’s question, the Swiss and Swedish position again.

Mr. Gray asked whether a message might not be gotten out to General Lemnitzer which: [Page 202]

apologized for the failure to adequately and promptly keep General Lemnitzer informed;
outlined in some detail what the Swiss and Swedish actions have been;
explained the postponement of deadlines for action on the NNSC;
concurred with General Lemnitzer’s request that in paragraph 10(b) of his cable that he be authorized to introduce new equipment; and
suggested that when the NNSC problem has been met he might expect to be authorized thereafter to make a statement in the Military Armistice Commission and then proceed to replace obsolete equipment.

General Taylor said he would still like to handle the two problems together and that if he had the power of decision he would do just that.

Mr. Robertson pointed out that if the two problems were handled simultaneously we would build the action up into a significance which it would not otherwise have. He said he thought the idea of a message to General Lemnitzer along the lines Mr. Gray suggested was a good idea.

Mr. Murphy said the message might conclude by asking General Lemnitzer whether this contemplated action would meet his needs.

Mr. Phleger suggested it would be a good idea to have worked up a general schedule with appropriate timing for replacement of obsolete equipment so that it could be shown that this was planned and based on genuine replacement needs.

Mr. Robertson said he wished to be sure that everyone understood that we would not call the Sixteen in to discuss paragraph 13(d) until the teams were removed to the Demilitarized Zone.

Mr. Murphy assured the Defense representatives that it would be possible to call in the Sixteen on very short notice, since they are right here in Washington.

Mr. Robertson suggested to Mr. Gray that the State Department would be glad to prepare a draft reply to General Lemnitzer which could then be gone over with Defense.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/1–556. Secret. Drafted by Jones on January 10 and initialed as correct by Robertson. The source text indicates the meeting took place in Murphy’s office.
  2. In telegram 75143 from CINCUNC for Army Chief of Staff Taylor, December 31, 1955 (DA IN 190875), Lemnitzer expressed his frustration at the continuing lack of authorization to remove the NNITs in South Korea to the demilitarized zone, despite the fact that first October 15 and then January 1 had been established as deadlines by which such action would be authorized. He was increasingly concerned about the deterioration of the combat capability of the U.N. Command forces in Korea under the restrictions imposed by the Armistice and he was also concerned about the growing friction between the United States and the Republic of Korea over the NNSC issue. (Ibid., Seoul Embassy Files: Lot 61 F 98, NNSC)
  3. A memorandum of Robertson’s conversation with Swiss Counselor Schnyder on January 5 is ibid., Central Files, 795.00/1–556.
  4. On January 11, a joint State–Defense message summarizing the sense of this meeting was sent to General Lemnitzer as telegram DA 995198. The telegram, signed by Gray, reviewed the state of negotiations with the Swiss and Swedes and concluded that it remained “highly desirable” for the NNITs to be removed by the NNSC rather than the UNC. As a consequence, the January 1 target date for the removal of the NNITs to the demilitarized zone was postponed for at least a month. With respect to the proposed suspension of paragraph 13–d of the Armistice Agreement, Lemnitzer was informed that “State believes this action should be taken approximately one month following elimination fixed teams”, but the two problems should not be linked. (Department of Defense Files)