171. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Northeast Asian Affairs (Parsons) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson)1


  • Introduction of Modern Combat Equipment into Korea

Following your meeting with Gordon Gray and Admiral Radford September 11,2 the “legal experts” of State and Defense reached the following tentative conclusions with respect to the list of equipment proposed by the JCS for introduction into Korea. (Tab B)3

Under a liberal interpretation of paragraph 13(d) the only items which might cause difficulty are the 280 mm gun, Honest John, and Nike. These are instruments of dual capability. At the time of the Armistice we had no such weapons in Korea.
In the absence of concrete evidence that the Communists have brought weapons of atomic capability into north Korea, it would not [Page 321] be legally possible to construe paragraph 13(d) as permitting their introduction into south Korea.

In view of the above, I suggest we propose to Defense that:

CINCUNC be authorized to bring in all items on the JCS list except the 280 mm gun, Honest John, and Nike and we so inform the Sixteen.
The views of CINCUNC and Embassy Seoul be solicited regarding the problem of timing and of reporting to the NNSC and the Military Armistice Commission although perhaps in a less detailed and specific fashion.
A vigorous attempt be made to determine whether sufficient evidence is at hand to substantiate a charge that the Communists are bringing atomic weapons into north Korea.
A decision as to how we proceed with respect to the controversial items will then be reached in the light of the results of (3) above.

Tab A,4 a draft State-Defense instruction to CINCUNC embodies the above proposal. L has approved this course of action and the draft instruction provided we first obtain from Defense an expansion of the information contained on the JCS list of new items to include (1) description of piece being replaced, and (2) assurance that new item is “the closest approximation in type and effectiveness in current use by our forces”. L feels that this data is essential on all new items in order to justify their introduction under an interpretation of paragraph 13(d) and in accord with the principles established in Tab. C.5

The course of action outlined in (1)–(4) in paragraph 2 has been discussed informally with Gordon Gray by his staff and while he has indicated that he might be willing to agree to it and to endeavor to obtain Admiral Radford’s concurrence, Defense at the working level has indicated that neither Gordon Gray nor the JCS could agree to provide the additional information desired by L, which would require time consuming research and numerous exchanges with CINCUNC, as a prior condition to moving forward in the manner outlined. Defense would probably be willing to try to get this information once the program is underway. NA does not feel that Us conditions are reasonable or that we should press Defense further with respect to them.


That you approve the draft instruction (Tab A) to CINCUNC.
That you endeavor to obtain Mr. Phleger’s agreement to propose formally to Defense the course of action outlined and the draft [Page 322] instruction on the understanding Defense will be requested to supply the additional information desired on this and subsequent lists as soon as administratively possible, but not as a prior condition to getting “modernization” underway.6
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795B.56/10–356. Secret. Drafted by Nes. Also sent to Sebald.
  2. See Document 168.
  3. Not found attached.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not found attached.
  6. Robertson initialed his approval of the recommendations. He put forward the course of action outlined in an October 17 memorandum to Phleger. (Department of State, FE Files: Lot 58 D 3, Korea 1956) Officials of NA and L subsequently met and agreed upon a revised version of the draft telegram to CINCUNC. The revision made introduction of new weapons into Korea dependent upon receipt of a report from General Lemnitzer containing additional information desired by L. (Memorandum from Parsons to Robertson, October 19; ibid., Central Files, 795b.56/10–1956)