160. Memorandum of a Conversation Between the Counselor of the British Embassy (de la Mare) and the Acting Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs (Parsons), Department of State, Washington, July 3, 19561
- Replacement of Obsolete Equipment into Korea
Mr. de la Mare said that his Foreign Office had noted the Leviero article in the New York Times2 on the introduction of new military equipment into Korea and desired that the following views be brought to our attention:
- The Foreign Office sympathized with our anxiety over the growing obsolescence of equipment.
- The Foreign Office accepted a year ago the necessity for introducing new equipment provided it were carried out with maximum discretion.
- As a result of the reaction following the removal of the NNSC from south Korea it was feared, however, that any introduction of new equipment at the present time would have serious repercussions.
- If any move were afoot therefore to introduce new equipment the Foreign Office thought it advisable to wait several months and to take every possible step to assure the minimum publicity.
- Since consultation or discussion of this question with the Sixteen would inevitably result in “leaks” the Foreign Office preferred that the Sixteen not be approached in advance.
Mr. Parsons confirmed that the problem of new equipment is being actively studied and assured Mr. de la Mare that when action was taken it would be done in the most natural possible way. He said that the military were also in agreement that no publicity would be given.
Mr. Nes said that he really did not feel a problem of timing now existed since a month had already passed since the NNSC action and additional time would be required before equipment would actually arrive in Korea even though a firm decision were taken in the near future.
With regard to consulting with the Sixteen Mr. Parsons said that we were studying this question also, and that two factors were involved. First our natural desire is to keep this a United Nations operation and accordingly to bring the Sixteen in on any new steps; secondly, the likelihood and danger of leaks were the Sixteen consulted.
Mr. de la Mare then raised the matter of reporting the recent NNSC action to the United Nations. If our report is to be purely factual, the Foreign Office have no views to express. However, if the report were likely to stimulate United Nations debate, the British would like an opportunity to comment on the draft. Mr. de la Mare said he thought the submission of a report was likely to raise all sorts of questions and both the Foreign Office and the British United Nations Delegation suggested that its submission be delayed for several months.
Mr. Parsons asked whether this would not in fact tend to highlight the report and encourage United Nations debate since it would be received that much closer to the meeting of the General Assembly. In any event we would be asking for the advice of our United Nations Delegation both on the text of the report and on the time of its submission.
In leaving, Mr. de la Mare asked whether the introduction of new equipment might not encourage President Rhee in his desire to unify Korea by force. He wondered whether the United States could control Rhee.
In reply Mr. Parsons said that one should look at the record of the past three or four years from which it would appear that Rhee would not take any precipitate action and that the receipt of new equipment would not be expected to upset the present status quo.