30. Memorandum of Discussion at the 240th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, March 10, 19551
[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda items 1–3.]
Mr. Cutler briefed the Council on the contents of the revised policy paper on Korea (copy of briefing notes filed in the Minutes of the meeting).6
The President interrupted Mr. Cutler’s briefing with a comment that he would very much like to have General Taylor or General Hull report to the National Security Council on the relative military situation of the UN Command in Korea and the Communists in the north, when General Taylor returned to the United States. The President added that in view of the dangers posed for the UN Command by the constant Communist violations of the armistice agreement, and in view of the difficulties involving the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, he regretfully believed that the United States would have to start violating the armistice itself.
After Mr. Cutler had completed his briefing of the Council with a reference to the acute difficulties encountered in the effort to prepare a Financial Appendix, he called on Admiral Radford.
Admiral Radford explained that he was quite certain that unless there were major changes in the military situation in Korea and the Communists withdrew large forces, it would be absolutely impossible to get the Government of the Republic of Korea willingly to agree to reduce the current level of South Korean military forces. Accordingly, Admiral Radford predicted that we would have to continue to support the existing level of South Korean forces for at least another year.[Page 57]
Mr. Cutler then asked the Secretary of State if he would not comment on the problem posed by the NNSC. Secretary Dulles indicated that the State Department had found it very hard to get the Swiss and Swedish Governments to do anything at all to remedy this situation lest in so doing they give offense to the Soviet Union. Accordingly, the most the United States could hope to do for the time being was to reduce the size of the NNSC at once to a skeleton or nominal basis. The Communists, of course, did not want any change in the existing set-up, because it was a one-way street for them. They entirely restricted the operation of the teams in North Korea, while enjoying advantages from the relatively unrestricted operation of the teams in South Korea. All in all, said Secretary Dulles, this was a “scandalous” operation, which the State Department had been doing its best to liquidate and to do so in such a way as to avoid resort by President Rhee to liquidation by unilateral action.
Mr. Allen Dulles said he wished to inquire as to the intent of paragraph 4 of NSC 5514, which called on the United States widely to publicize the fact that the Communists had violated the provisions of the armistice agreement since its inception. Did this, inquired Mr. Dulles, call for an official statement by the United States Government? After all, the same problem existed in the violations by the Vietminh in Indochina. It constituted a very delicate problem [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and if any such official statement were to be issued, it would have to be prepared with the utmost care.
Secretary Dulles agreed with Mr. Allen Dulles that the material which we could put into an official U.S. statement would almost certainly exclude much of what we are reasonably sure constitutes evidence of the grossest kind of Communist violations.
Admiral Radford pointed out that at the last meeting of the representatives of the sixteen countries who had participated on our side in the Korean war, it had been agreed that the United States should prepare such a public statement, and, indeed, such a statement was in the course of being prepared. However, the statement would not include material derived from sensitive intelligence sources, but would depend instead on information from overt sources.
Secretary Dulles said that he had not understood that paragraph 4 referred solely to an official U.S. Government statement. Admiral Radford replied that such a statement was necessary in the view of the representatives of the sixteen nations, since it was essential for them to be able to publicize the Communist violations in order to inform public opinion in their respective countries. The President indicated that if he were to write a private letter to the British Prime Minister, it would be perfectly possible to include information about Communist violations, no matter how sensitive the source of information. Furthermore, he believed that such a letter would be very [Page 58] useful and influential. In this connection, Secretary Dulles made reference to the contents of a communication from the British Chargé in Peiping to the Foreign Office in London, describing a conversation between Trevelyan and Chou En-lai regarding the atrocities which the Chinese Communists had perpetrated on British prisoners captured in the Korean war.
Secretary Dulles then said he wished to comment on paragraph 10–d, of NSC 5514, which called for an effort to persuade other UN members to maintain at least minimum armed forces in the Republic of Korea in order to preserve the UN Command. While, said Secretary Dulles, he did not object to the inclusion of this course of action in the paper, the members of the National Security Council should be clearly aware of the increasing difficulty the U.S. would encounter in carrying out this course of action. Sir Anthony Eden had been pressing him at the recent Bangkok Conference to get the remaining British forces transferred from Korea to Malaya, in order to meet pressing problems in the latter area.7 Aware of their own increased commitments for the defense of Southeast Asia, the Australians and the New Zealanders were taking the same position. The Philippines also want out. Perhaps the best case of all could be made by the Thailanders, who obviously needed their forces in Korea to protect the home territory. Accordingly, Secretary Dulles said he was far from optimistic as to the probable success of this proposal.
Admiral Radford expressed agreement with Secretary Dulles as to the likelihood of mounting difficulties in retaining these other contingents in Korea. Except for the Turks, however, the other contingents in South Korea didn’t amount to very much from a military point of view. What he found irritating, continued Admiral Radford, was that the very countries which have withdrawn their forces or are contemplating their withdrawal, should continue to throw their weight around on such problems as that posed by the NNSC for the UN Command. Indeed, he was inclined to question whether any nations which withdrew their forces from Korea should properly continue to form a part of the UN Command. As things now were, these countries were able to have their cake and eat it too.[Page 59]
The President commented that he thought Admiral Radford had made a good point, and that it should be taken up by the Secretary of State.
The National Security Council:8
- Discussed the draft statement of policy on the subject contained in the reference report (NSC 5514) in the light of the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff transmitted by the reference memorandum of March 7, 1955.
- Adopted the statement of policy in NSC 5514.
- Noted the President’s request that General Hull, upon his return to Washington, make a brief presentation to the National Security Council of the military situation of the United Nations Command in Korea relative to the Communist military situation in North Korea.
Note: NSC 5514, as adopted, approved by the President; and transmitted to the Operations Coordinating Board as the coordinating agency designated by the President. The action in c above, as approved by the President, subsequently transmitted to the Secretary of Defense for appropriate action.
[Here follow agenda items 5 and 6.]
- Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret. Drafted by Gleason on March 11.↩
- Document 24.↩
- Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XV, Part 2, pp. 1620–1624.↩
- See footnote 3, Document 21.↩
- This memorandum enclosed a memorandum from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of Defense, dated March 4, in which the Joint Chiefs expressed their approval of the military aspects of NSC 5514 and recommended that the Secretary concur in its adoption by the NSC. (Department of State, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5514 Series)↩
- Not printed. The minutes of all National Security Council meetings held during the Eisenhower administration are in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, Official Meeting Minutes File.↩
- Dulles visited Bangkok February 23–25 for the first meeting of the Council organized under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, later termed the SEATO Council. Secto 12 from Bangkok, February 23, reported on Dulles’ conversation with Eden concerning Malaya, but made no reference to Korea. (Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 428) Dulles later discussed his conversation with Eden in Bangkok in a telephone conversation with Robertson on March 23. As Dulles remembered it, nothing had been decided concerning the British desire to withdraw troops stationed in Korea. The British wanted troops for the fighting in Malaya and the United States wanted the Commonwealth nations to keep a division in Korea. (Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations)↩
- Paragraphs a–c and the Note that follows constitute NSC Action No. 1352, approved by President Eisenhower on March 12. (Department of State, S/S–NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)↩