4. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs (Robertson) to the Secretary of State1

SUBJECT

  • Proposed Revision of NSC 170/12

The attached letter to you from Mr. Hensel (Tab B)3 requests Department of State concurrence in a proposed revision of sub-paragraph d of Annex A to NSC 170/1, which is the basic NSC policy paper on Korea. Annex A is the sensitive attachment to the Korea policy paper which states the courses of action to be taken to attempt to prevent unilateral action by the Republic of Korea in violation of the Armistice. The sub-paragraph in question charged General Hull with resort to martial law if necessary to enable new leadership [Page 6]to assume power “if Rhee initiates or is about to initiate unilateral action”. General Hull has pointed out that the withdrawal of all but two of his divisions from Korea has removed his capability for taking this action. He has therefore requested that he be relieved of this responsibility.

The proposed revision calls for the United States to select and encourage covertly the development of new leadership and, in the event of unilateral action, to assist such new leadership to assume power without overt United States participation unless it is necessary and promises to be decisive. Tab C shows the exact language of the revision proposed.4

I understand that the CIA staff have drafted a reply which would accept the revision but point out that CIA [1 line of source text not declassified] would have to rely upon appropriate guidance from the Department of State in the selection of south Korean leadership.5

I believe that the proposed revision is acceptable to the Department of State and that you should support it when it comes before the NSC.

Recommendation

That you sign the attached letter to Mr. Hensel, concurring in the proposed revision. (Tab A)6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 795.00/1–1255. Top Secret. Drafted by Robert J. G. McClurkin, initialed by Robertson, and sent through Robert R. Bowie and Robert Murphy, Deputy Under Secretary of State.
  2. For text of NSC 170/1, “U.S. Objectives and Courses of Action in Korea,” approved on November 20, 1953, see Foreign Relations, 1952–1954, vol. XV, Part 2, pp. 1620 1624.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.
  4. Not found attached. Another copy gives the language of the proposed revision as follows:

    “To select and encourage covertly the development of new South Korean leadership prepared to cooperate in maintaining the armistice, and if Rhee initiates or is about to initiate unilateral action, to assist such new leadership to assume power by means not involving overt U.S. participation until and unless U.S. overt support is necessary and promises to be decisive in firmly establishing such new leadership.” (Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 66 D 70, Korea)

  5. A copy of this letter from Allen W. Dulles to Hensel, January 17, was sent for information to Secretary Dulles. (Ibid., Central Files, 795B.00/1–1755)
  6. On January 20, a letter was sent from Under Secretary of State Herbert Hoover, Jr., to Hensel indicating Department of State concurrence in the proposed revision of Annex A to NSC 170/1. (Ibid., 795B.00/1–2055)