24. National Security Council Report1

NSC 5514



  • A. NSC 170/1
  • B. NSC Action No. 13402

The enclosed draft statement of policy on the subject, prepared by the NSC Planning Board, is transmitted herewith for consideration by the National Security Council at its meeting on Thursday, March 10, 1955.

A Financial Appendix covering Korea will be prepared and circulated for the information of the Council prior to the meeting.

The enclosed statement of policy, if adopted, is intended to supersede NSC 170/1.

It is recommended that, if the Council adopts the enclosed statement of policy, it be submitted to the President with the recommendation that he approve it, direct its implementation by all appropriate executive departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, and designate the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency.

James S. Lay, Jr.3

[Here follows a table of contents.]




1. Long-range Objective: To bring about the unification of Korea with a self-supporting economy and under a free, independent, and representative government, friendly toward the U.S. and other countries of the free world, with its political and territorial integrity assured [Page 44] by international agreement and with armed forces sufficient for internal security and capable of strong resistance in event of attack by a foreign power.

2. Current U.S. Objective: Pending achievement of the above long-range objective, (a) to assist the Republic of Korea (ROK) in order to enable it to make a substantial contribution to free world strength in the Pacific area, (b) to prevent more of Korea from coming under Communist domination either by subversion or aggression, and (c) to develop ROK armed forces sufficient for internal security and capable of defending ROK territory short of attack by a major power.

3. To achieve these objectives through peaceful means, if possible to do so without compromising U.S. obligations, principles, or military security.

Courses of Action

(The following courses of action are subject to review in the event the U.S. becomes engaged in hostilities in the Formosan area or elsewhere in Asia outside of Korea.)

The Armistice

4. Widely publicize the fact that the Communists, with the connivance of the Communist members of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, have violated the provisions of the Armistice Agreement since its inception.

5. a. Continue to observe the Armistice except as in b and c below.

b. Take such action as is necessary to deal with the situation caused by Communist violations of the Armistice when it is determined:

That the UNC is at a significant disadvantage because of such violations.
That the advantage of taking such action outweighs the military and political disadvantages thereof, including the possible non-agreement of the UNC allies to such a course. Prior agreement of our UNC allies for this action should be sought, but they should not be given a veto on U.S. action.

c. In the event of unprovoked Communist attack against U.S. military or non-military personnel, aircraft, or vessels outside Communist territory, take action in accordance with paragraph 5–g of NSC 5429/5,4 even though this may be construed as a violation of the Armistice.

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Preventing or Countering the Resumption of Fighting by the ROK

6. The U.S. should seek to ensure that the ROK does not unilaterally renew hostilities, by:

Continuing to make clear to ROK leaders where circumstances necessitate that if the ROK unilaterally initiates military operations against Chinese or North Korean forces in or north of the Demilitarized Zone then:
UN Command ground, sea, and air forces will not support such operations directly or indirectly.
The U.S. will not furnish any military or logistic support for such operations.
All U.S. economic aid to Korea will cease immediately-
The UN Commander will take any action necessary to prevent his forces becoming involved in the renewal of hostilities and to provide for their security.
Continuing to persuade the ROK to maintain its forces under UN Command while that Command has responsibilities for the defense of Korea.
Making UN Command plans and dispositions which will reinforce the statements made to ROK leaders under a above and manifest U.S. determination to carry them out, in so far as this is consistent with sound military deployments to cope with a Communist attack.

7. In anticipation of the possibility that President Rhee may order the renewal of hostilities by an attack on Communist forces in or north of the Demilitarized Zone, despite all the actions taken by the U.S. under paragraph 6 above, the U.S. should take the measures stated in Annex A (Annex A to NSC 170/1 amended as reported by NSC Action No. 1340, and circulated only to the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Director of Central Intelligence).5

8. If ROK forces should renew hostilities unilaterally, the U.S. should, in addition to appropriate actions under Annex A:

Stop all economic and military assistance to Korea.
Discontinue all logistic or other support to the ROK forces.
Take such other military measures as seem feasible and consistent with the security and capability of UNC forces to block ROK offensive action.
Evacuate UN civilians.
Notify the Communists that the UN Command will disassociate itself from the ROK action, but will defend UN Command forces against any Communist attack, and will be prepared, if a Communist counterattack against the ROK threatens the security of UN Command [Page 46] forces, to undertake such military action as may be necessary for the security of UN Command forces.
Renew hostilities with the Communists only if necessary to protect the security of UN Command forces.
Promptly seek to obtain the support of the other members of the UN Command and, as appropriate, inform the UN of the actions taken by the UN Command under UN authority to prevent or limit hostilities.

Countering the Resumption of Fighting by the Communists

9. If Communist forces renew hostilities in Korea, the U.S. should:

Implement the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty
Invoke the Joint Policy Declaration6 by calling upon the signatories to carry out the commitment that “if there is a renewal of the armed attack, challenging again the principles of the United Nations, we should again be united and prompt to resist. The consequences of such a breach of the armistice would be so grave that, in all probability, it would not be possible to confine hostilities within the frontiers of Korea.”
Make clear to the world the necessity of expanding the war [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] as the only feasible way of honoring our collective security commitments to the UN and our security commitments to the ROK.
Implement the military and diplomatic measures referred to in NSC Action No. 1004, January 8, 1954.7
Call on other UN members for effective military assistance [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

Achieving a Position of Strength

10. Pending a political settlement and in the absence of a renewal of hostilities, and conditioned upon satisfactory cooperation by the ROK in carrying out its agreements with the U.S., the U.S. should:

Accept the division of Korea on the present demarcation line while seeking a satisfactory solution of the Korean problem by the use of other than military action.
Continue to develop the ROK as a military ally.
Maintain the general security position of the ROK by increasing the combat effectiveness of its active armed forces and developing an effective reserve in order to permit a reduction in the size of its active armed forces at an appropriate time.
Seek to continue the military involvement and thus the political interest of other nations in Korea and to give greater force to the Joint Policy Declaration by persuading the other UN members to [Page 47] maintain at least minimum armed forces within the ROK in order to preserve the UN Command.
Working in and through the organs of the UN where feasible, continue to strengthen the government and democratic institutions of the ROK.
Encourage the development of cooperative relations, mutual respect and participation in multilateral activities between the ROK and the other free nations of Asia as a means of lessening the dependence of the ROK upon the U.S. for political and moral support; endeavor to develop a community of interest between the ROK and Japan, and also with the Philippines and the Republic of China through the offer of U.S. good offices to help resolve outstanding problems and by encouragement of joint cooperation; and encourage the conditions necessary to form as soon as possible, and then participate in, a Western Pacific collective defense arrangement, including the Philippines, Japan, the Republic of China, and the ROK, eventually linked with the Manila Pact and ANZUS.
Continue to strengthen the ROK economy by implementing the present expanded program of economic assistance in that portion of Korea controlled by the ROK and the UN Command. The program should be designed:
To establish living standards approximating the 1949–50 levels, which the ROK should be able to support with a minimum of future external aid.
To increase the investment component as rapidly as is consistent with economic stability, placing greatest emphasis on projects contributing most immediately to increased productivity.
To permit the ROK to assume an increasingly greater proportion of the cost of supporting its armed forces.

Seeking To Obtain Satisfactory Agreements From the Communists

11. In order to achieve a unified Korea under an independent and representative Government friendly toward the U.S., established through the holding of genuinely free elections under UN supervision for representation in the National Assembly, in which representation shall be in direct proportion to the indigenous population in Korea, the U.S. should be prepared to:

Engage in political negotiations between the Communists and the UN side (with the ROK associated with the latter), if it appears such negotiations would be productive.
Conclude arrangements with the Communists and such other nations as are concerned to guarantee the political and territorial integrity of a unified Korea.
Accept a level of Korean armed forces sufficient for internal security and capable of strong resistance in event of attack by a foreign power.
Forego all rights granted to the U.S. under the U.S. ROK Mutual Defense Treaty, and to refrain from stationing U.S. forces and maintaining U.S. bases in Korea, provided no other foreign forces are granted these rights or maintain such forces and bases.

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12. Any such agreement should not preclude the provision of U.S. economic and military assistance to Korea.

13. Pending achievement of satisfactory agreements with the Communists:

Continue in effect all pertinent instructions to the UN Command involving the maintenance of the security of the U.S. forces in the Korean area.

Continue diplomatic efforts to persuade our Allies to accept U.S. courses of action with respect to Korea and to contribute to their support.

[1 paragraph (2-1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5514 Series. Top Secret. Annex B “Joint Policy Declaration,” Annex C “NSC Action No. 1004 dated January 8, 1954,” and a “Summary Statement of Economic and Military Assistance to Korea” are not printed. In a Progress Report on December 30, 1954, the Operations Coordinating Board reported to the NSC that NSC 170/1 had become “partially obsolete” and should be revised. (For text of NSC 170/1, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XV, Part 2, pp. 16201624.) The Progress Report is Ibid., pp. 1942–1956. On January 19, 1955, Assistant Secretary Robertson sent a memorandum to Secretary Dulles recommending that the Department support the development of a new policy paper on Korea. On February 10, the Department of State member of the NSC Planning Board transmitted to the Board a draft paper entitled “U.S. Objectives and Courses of Action in Korea,” which was prepared in the Department. The Board Assistants of the Planning Board reworked the Department of State draft and submitted a revised version to the Planning Board on February 18. The final draft printed here was approved for transmittal to the NSC by the Planning Board on February 24. (Copies of Robertson’s January 19 memorandum, the Department of State draft, and the Planning Board draft of this paper are in Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 61 D 167, Korea, U.S. Objectives and Courses of Action)
  2. See footnote 3, Document 21.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.
  4. For text of NSC 5429/5, “Current U.S. Policy in the Far East,” December 22, 1954, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XII, Part 1, pp. 10621072.
  5. For the revision of Annex A, as approved by the President, see Document 21.
  6. Signed July 27, 1953. See Annex B. [Footnote in the source text. The Joint Policy Declaration is attached as Annex B, but not printed. Regarding the Joint Policy Declaration, see footnote 3, Document 8.]
  7. See Annex C. [Footnote in the source text. NSC Action No. 1004 is attached as Annex C, but not printed. Regarding NSC Action No. 1004, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XV, Part 2, p. 1709, footnote 7.]