22. 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


  • Meeting with the 16, Thursday, February 242

In accordance with your request, we have called a meeting of the 16. The discussion at the last meeting of the 16 concluded with: (1) the agreement of the 16 to consult with their Governments on the question of paragraph 13d (the reinforcing restrictions of the Armistice Agreement) and our agreement to take no action in this connection pending further consultation with the 16; and (2) a discussion of the problem of the NNSC at which time it was agreed that it would be desirable to delay a reply to the Swiss and Swedes until the substance of the Chinese Communist reply was known.

On paragraph 13d, we have worked together with Defense in an effort to prepare a brief for unilateral action which would be convincing to our Allies and to the public. This brief (now under revision) does make the military case but, unfortunately, the case is not as effective as had been expected. For your information, G–2, curiously enough, apparently had not been consulted on this problem since in working up the brief it was apparent they doubted the wisdom of the course of action the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) have urged. In addition, G–3 and Defense in connection with preparation of the brief indicated there was no intention of introducing new weapons or equipment into Korea in the near future, thus undercutting somewhat the urgency of the matter. We have asked Defense, therefore, to have a high-ranking military officer—perhaps Admiral Radford3—to attend the meeting in order to make as strong a military [Page 39] case for action on paragraph 13d as possible. I believe, however, that we should also stress the political case for action. We should make clear to our Allies the undesirability from a political standpoint of continuing indefinitely to adhere to agreements or elements thereof which the Communists violate with impunity. If we continue to adhere to elements of the Armistice Agreement which the Communists have violated, we thereby permit the Communists to perpetuate the myth that they are complying with the reinforcement provisions of the Armistice. However, because of the weakness of the case prepared by the military, and the difficult problem of timing of any action, I believe we should make no recommendations for immediate action in connection with paragraph 13d in this meeting but should (a) let the military present their more detailed case, (b) stress the political problem mentioned above, and (c) listen to the views of our Allies.

With respect to the NNSC, I suggest the group be informed that the UN Command has again charged the Communists in the Military Armistice Commission with violating paragraph 13d of the Armistice Agreement by introducing jet aircraft after the Armistice was signed. The UN Command on February 21, 1954, therefore, requested the NNSC to investigate these charges.4 While past experiences warrant no hope for an effective investigation, if any, the UN Command will have brought the record of Communist obstruction and frustration of the NNSC investigation functions up to date.

The Chinese Communists have now replied to the Swiss and Swedish Aide-Mémoire. Their reply makes it clear that they will not agree to a liquidation of the Commission because they insist the Commission is working very well and is making a contribution to the peace. The Communists have given lip service to the Swiss and Swedish proposal for reduction in the number of personnel on the NNSC, making it clear, however, that they would not agree to the Commission’s being relieved of any of its control functions. Furthermore, they have suggested that the question of reduction of personnel on the NNSC be considered by the four nations with members on the Commission who would then decide upon methods for reduction in personnel. This procedure could delay indefinitely any decision to reduce the personnel of the Commission and in all likelihood would not result in a reduction to the extent we wish.

The Swiss are now pressing us for a reply to their Aide-Mémoire. We are preparing such a reply and believe that before sending [Page 40] it we should inform the 16 of what we intend to say. The main points of the reply we propose to make are as follows:

The U.S. appreciates the difficulties the Swiss and Swedes have experienced in endeavoring to carry out their functions in the NNSC.
These difficulties were referred to in the Swiss and Swedish Aide-Mémoire of April 14, 1954.5 We understand them to be a result of Communist frustration and obstruction of the Armistice, a situation which was recognized in the May 4, 1954 refutation of the Swiss and Swedish members of the NNSC of Czech and Polish allegations of the UN Command Armistice violations;6 in the Swiss and Swedish memorandum of May 7, 19547 in which they clearly indicated that the inspection functions of the NNSC had been frustrated in the north by the Communists; and in Ambassador Sohlman’s statement of December 1, 1954 before the Political Committee of the UN General Assembly.8
The U.S. agrees with the Swiss and Swedes that in view of the history of Communist frustration the Commission can no longer serve a useful function and, therefore, that liquidation is the preferred alternative. Nevertheless, the U.S. Government is prepared to agree to retention of an NNSC greatly reduced in personnel which would be stationed in the Demilitarized Zone to receive reports from the two sides.

Also in replying to the Swiss and Swedish Aide-Mémoire, it would be necessary to indicate the manner in which we believe our position on a reduction in personnel of the NNSC should be negotiated. There seem to be two possible courses of action:

Have the UN Command raise the issue in the Military Armistice Commission and attempt to get Communist agreement. If within a short period the Communists refuse to agree, or if they refuse to discuss the matter at all in view of their proposal that the NNSC work out recommendations, we would then ask the Swiss and Swedes to take action to reduce their personnel and NNSC activities in accordance with our recommendation. Obtain Allied agreement now that if the Swiss and Swedes will not agree to take such action, we would then announce in the Military Armistice Commission that because of Communist frustration we consider the functions of the Commission to be reduced to receiving reports from the two sides by a small group stationed within the Demilitarized Zone. We would [Page 41] then request the personnel of the NNSC to leave the Republic of Korea and remove them if necessary.
Ask the Swiss and Swedes to negotiate our position with the Czechs and Polish for a period not exceeding three weeks making clear that we have set an absolute limit to that position. If these negotiations fail, take the matter up in the Military Armistice Commission for a short time and follow this action with action to reduce the activities and personnel of the NNSC to those levels we have sought to negotiate. This course of action would almost certainly lead to a situation in which the UN Command will be placed in the position of demanding more drastic action than the Swiss and Swedes will have attempted to negotiate with the Czechs and Poles.

We, therefore, prefer the first of these alternatives, because it avoids a situation in which the public position of the UN Command might be divergent from that of the Swiss and Swedes. It would therefore achieve our objective most surely and rapidly. In any event, we want the agreement now of our Allies to action by the UN Command, if necessary, to reduce the NNSC activities.9

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/2–2355. Confidential. Drafted by Jones and concurred in by FE, IO, and EUR.
  2. See telegram 544, infra.
  3. Radford did attend the meeting.
  4. UNC action at the 55th meeting of the MAC on February 21 was reported in telegram 957 from Seoul, February 24. (Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/2– 2455)
  5. The Swiss and Swedish aide-mémoire is attached to a memorandum of conversation by Allen, April 14, 1954. (Ibid., 795.00/4–1454)
  6. Excerpts from this May 4 memorandum are printed in Department of State Bulletin, June 21, 1954, pp. 944–947.
  7. Not found in Department of State files.
  8. Swedish Ambassador Rolf Sohlman’s statement in the First Committee on the Korean question was made on December 2 rather than December 1. In his statement, Sohlman pointed out the limiting factors which prevented the adequate exercise by the NNSC of the supervisory functions prescribed by the Korean Armistice Agreement. (U.N. doc. A/C.l/SR. 738)
  9. A note by Sebald at the end of the source text reads: “I understand that Mr. Phleger does not concur with the above recommended course of action.”