168. Memorandum for the Record of a Meeting, Washington, September 11, 19561

PARTICIPANTS

  • Defense
  • Admiral Radford
  • Gordon Gray
  • Captain Robbins2
  • Captain Moote
  • Mr. Leigh3
  • State
  • Mr. Walter S. Robertson
  • Mr. Francis O. Wilcox
  • Col. John M. Raymond
  • Mr. Charles Runyon
  • Mr. Howard L. Parsons
  • Mr. David G. Nes

In opening the discussion Mr. Robertson proposed that the group address itself to clear a telegram of instructions to CINCUNC along the lines proposed in a State Department draft.4

Mr. Gray interrupted to say that in his opinion four major and very basic issues were at stake and should be dealt with: (1) Do we suspend paragraph 13(d) or introduce new equipment under a liberal interpretation; (2) do we report the new items or not; (3) do we proceed with the introduction of new equipment immediately or do we ask for the views of General Lemnitzer and Ambassador Dowling [Page 306]first; and (4) what do we do about [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]?

Admiral Radford contended that the entire question was a matter of reducing the cost of our military commitment in Korea, and that this could only be done by modernizing the forces there to include weapons of atomic capability.

Mr. Robertson pointed out that State and Defense had already agreed that new weapons would be introduced through an interpretation of paragraph 13(d) and that they would be reported to the NNSC. State had also supported the replacement of obsolete and worn out equipment with roughly equivalent items. The question raised by Admiral Radford was thus “Are we to implement policy already agreed upon or are we to set a new policy”?.

Admiral Radford stated that he was not familiar with the policy outlined by Mr. Robertson with respect to interpretation and reporting, considered such a policy entirely unsatisfactory, and firmly believed that if such were the policy it should be changed. The Admiral maintained that it was impossible to do what had to be done under an interpretation of paragraph 13(d), and that so long as we were committed to replacing weapons with their equivalents, we could not reduce either the Korean forces or the American contingent.

Mr. Gray gave as his opinion that we could do what we wanted to through a liberal interpretation of paragraph 13(d) and by reporting in general terms.

Mr. Robertson proceeded to read from the August 15 Unified Command Report to the United Nations5 and from Secretary McGuire’s letter to Mr. Murphy of June 27,6 both of which he stated reflected Defense agreement with State on the basic questions involved.

Saying that the JCS had never considered the exchange of correspondence with State satisfactory, Admiral Radford contended that the policy was not definitive.

Mr. Gray asked whether there was anything inconsistent in the list of proposed weapons with the previous policy decision, and it was agreed that this question would have to be determined by Defense and State lawyers.

Mr. Robertson reviewed State’s position and contended that we had always thoroughly recognized the intolerable situation created in Korea by Communist violations of the Armistice Agreement and that our purpose had been to find a formula for achieving a balance with the Communists while avoiding the onus of breaking the Armistice Agreement. We would, therefore, be very reluctant to take any [Page 307]action which would manifestly subject the U.S. to legitimate charges of having broken the Armistice.

In maintaining that the time had come for a new policy. Admiral Radford said that the removal of the NNSC was only the first step required and that the second was logically a suspension of paragraph 13(d).

Mr. Gray reiterated his view that perhaps the necessary action could be accomplished through an interpretation of paragraph 13(d) and said he was convinced that any agreement Defense had in the matter with State excluded any bar to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Accordingly, if State’s interpretation of the policy excluded [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] a new policy was needed.

After Admiral Radford had read a September 1 JCS memorandum to Secretary Wilson7 on this subject, Mr. Robertson pointed again to the statements we had already made within the Military Armistice Commission and to the United Nations. How could we, in their light, now say something entirely different only a month later?

Admiral Radford again maintained that he had not known of the State–Defense decision, was not familiar with the Unified Command Report, and did not consider the position referred to therein as satisfactory. Mr. Gray interrupted stating that while Defense did clear these papers it did not think the position taken would preclude the introduction of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

Mr. Wilcox asked whether Defense assumed that [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] could be introduced and unreported without becoming generally known. Admiral Radford admitted that the Koreans would probably announce such introductions.

In response to Mr. Robertson’s question as to how the weapons we wished could be introduced under paragraph 13(d), Admiral Radford said that they could not. In his view, paragraph 13(d) is very specific and precludes the introduction of anything but equivalent matériel. Mr. Robertson interrupted to say that previously State and Defense had agreed that a liberal interpretation of paragraph 13(d) would be adequate.

Mr. Gray said that reduced to the simplest terms the JCS felt that “modernization” of forces in Korea required [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. [Page 308]The question was then whether this could be done under any reasonable interpretation of paragraph 13(d). If not, our previous policy must be reconsidered.

Referring to the question of interpretation, Mr. Leigh brought up the fact that the actions of the other side were relevant.

At this juncture, Admiral Radford had to leave for the White House, but prior to his departure he confirmed that Defense intended to introduce [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] weapons of atomic capability into south Korea, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified.].

Mr. Wilcox said that with reference to the United Nations problem, he hoped that if the decision was made to introduce [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] it could be shown not to violate the Armistice and would not be undertaken until after the next General Assembly.

Mr. Gray agreed with the suggestion that State and Defense had never really discussed the types of weapons to be included in a modernization program and that it was now time to come to grips with this problem. In his opinion, Mr. Gray said he felt the most troublesome angle was that of reporting. This might be resolved through reporting in very general rather than specific terms.

At this point Mr. Robertson again reiterated his previous agreement with the philosophy of maintaining a military balance in Korea, but said the suspension of paragraph 13(d) and cessation of reporting after our previous commitments to the Sixteen and to the United Nations, would antagonize our allies and play into the hands of Communist propaganda which has all along been portraying the U.S. as violators of the Armistice Agreement.

Mr. Wilcox pointed out that while from a legal point of view, abrogation of an agreement by one party does entitle recourse to similar violations by the other party, it would nevertheless be extremely difficult to justify, especially in Asia, our introduction of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] based on Communist violations as we thus far knew them.

After discussing various possible lines of action, Mr. Gray and Mr. Robertson agreed that the next step was to get State and Defense lawyers together to decide what items could be introduced under a liberal interpretation of paragraph 13(d) and in what manner we should report such items.8 Once that determination is made by [Page 309]the legal experts then the policy question can be faced—“Does the United States want [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] in Korea”?

In terminating the meeting, Mr. Robertson raised the question of modernizing the Korean Army and pointed out the adverse repercussions in Korea which would result from our forces receiving new weapons with no comparable provision with respect to the Republic of Korea Army. [2–½ lines of source text not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/9–1156. Secret. Drafted by Nes on September 14 and initialed as accurate by Robertson.
  2. Captain Berton Robbins, USN, Regional Director for the Far East, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
  3. Monroe Leigh, Assistant General Counsel for International Matters, Department of Defense.
  4. See Document 165.
  5. See Document 164.
  6. See footnote 5, Document 157.
  7. In this memorandum, entitled “Modernization of Forces and Equipment in Korea,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff expressed their concern that modernization of military equipment in South Korea had not been authorized despite the fact that the NNITs had been removed to the demilitarized zone in June. The Joint Chiefs argued “that the need for modernization of the United Nations Command’s matériel including an atomic capability is sufficiently critical to justify positive action without delay.” They added that, under a broad interpretation of the Armistice Agreement, such action could be taken without reporting the introduction of modern weapons to the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission. (Department of Defense Files)
  8. Immediately after this meeting, Monroe Leigh, Captain Robbins, and Captain Moote of Defense met with Colonel Raymond of L and Charles Runyon of L/UNA to formulate the legal opinions required by Robertson and Gray. According to a memorandum prepared by Runyon, September 11, the lawyers reached a tentative consensus that the only items that would create problems under a liberal interpretation of paragraph 13d of the Armistice Agreement were weapons with atomic as well as conventional capability: the 280-mm. gun, the Honest John, and Nike. [2–½ lines of text not declassified] On the question of reporting to the NNSC, Defense representatives indicated that the Department of Defense wanted the reporting of new weapons to be very general in nature, and they agreed to discover what Communist practice on reporting had been. (Department of State, UNP Files: Lot 64 D 167, Gen Corresp)