188. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Sebald) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)1


  • Disagreement with Defense on Action with Respect to Paragraph 13(d) of the Korean Armistice Agreement

On November 7, FE proposed to Defense a draft joint State–Defense instruction to CINCUNC (attached)2 authorizing the introduction of new equipment into Korea to replace obsolete equipment, under a liberal interpretation of paragraph 13(d) of the Korean Armistice Agreement.

The State draft was subsequently cleared in Defense and by all the services, with only minor change, but Admiral Radford declined to concur unless it provided for introduction of the Honest John and the 280mm gun. The State draft deferred authorizing the introduction of these weapons, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] which, according to L, the United States could not justify within the terms of the Armistice Agreement. Moreover, the introduction of such weapons, particularly at this juncture, would almost surely create serious controversy, in which the United States would undoubtedly be censured not only by the Communists and neutralist countries, but also by the Swiss and Swedes and many of our Allies in Korea.

We have made a number of concessions to Defense on this issue, recognizing that it is important to find procedures for replacing obsolete equipment. Except for the Honest John and the 280mm gun, we have accepted at face value the Defense statement that the new weapons are as close in effectiveness and type to the obsolete ones as is consistent with modern standards and production, even though to a layman some of the new types appear far removed from those being replaced. A number of the weapons listed for introduction have atomic capabilities: we have taken exception only to those whose atomic capability is widely regarded as the primary feature of the weapon. I do not believe it would be wise for us to agree with Admiral Radford that the Honest John and 280mm gun should be introduced, particularly in this time of world tension. We have attempted to justify our position and have explained the political and legal issues in detail during numerous discussions with Defense. Following a meeting between Mr. Phleger and Mr. Sprague of Defense [Page 360] on November 28, 1956,3 Defense indicated that Admiral Radford would approach you directly in the near future in a further attempt to obtain State concurrence to the addition of the 280mm gun and Honest John to the list of weapons authorized for introduction.


That in any discussion of paragraph 13(d) with Defense officials you state that the Department of State will not agree to the introduction of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] such as the Honest John and the 280mm gun because such action would generally be regarded as a violation of the Armistice Agreement, and the Department of State does not believe the United States should expose itself to such charges for the sake of these specific items of equipment.

  1. Source: Department of State, NA Files: Lot 59 D 407, Problems of Para. 13d of Armistice Agreement 1956. Secret. Drafted by Norred and Nes and cleared with IO, EUR, and L.
  2. Not found attached, but see footnote 4, Document 181.
  3. See Supra.