110. Memorandum From the Legal Adviser (Phleger) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)1


  • Korean Armistice

In the conversations between State and Defense2 upon the general line of reply to the recent telegram from General Lemnitzer (C– 75143),3 a special problem was referred to but not thoroughly considered—the possible future introduction of “Honest John4 to Korea.

We are of course in no position to assess the future prospects of military need for such a move. It is not foreshadowed by the Lemnitzer telegram. Nor would it seem to fit the rationale of Defense’s 983878 of June 24, 1955,5 in the same way that replacement of obsolete by contemporary aircraft would do. Moreover, its legal, political and propaganda implications would appear to raise novel and important questions which could lead to charges that vital clauses of the Armistice Agreement had been denounced by the United States. The political as well as legal repercussions from the introduction of nuclear weapons into Korea would be very great.

It should be understood that any future recommendation for such a move must receive most searching scrutiny at the highest level of the Government.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/1–1256. Top Secret.
  2. Supra.
  3. See footnote 2, Supra.
  4. A missile with nuclear capabilities.
  5. In telegram DEF 983878 to CINCUNC, a joint State–Defense message, a proposed report from the U.N. Command to the United Nations concerning the growing problem of a military imbalance in Korea was sent to CINCUNC for comment. The tenor of the report was that the clandestine introduction of combat matériel into North Korea, in contravention of the Armistice, was making it impossible for the UNC to fulfill the injunction established by the Armistice to “insure the stability of the Military Armistice so as to facilitate the attainment of a peaceful settlement.” To restore the necessary military equilibrium in Korea, the report proposed the replacement of obsolete and worn-out weapons by the UNC “in such a manner as to give full effect to its responsibilities under the resolutions of the UN and its obligations under the AA.” (Department of State, NA Files: Lot 59 D 407, Defense Cables In and Out NNSC 1956) The proposed report was not submitted to the United Nations.