239. National Intelligence Estimate 42/14.2–73, Washington, June 18, 1973.1 2


18 June 1973



The proposed South Korean initiative is designed to forestall a diplomatic setback at the United Nations this fall. In substance, it would bow to pressure in the UN for a debate with North Korea participating and would anticipate possible change in the UN role. In a more positive sense, it would open a longer range effort to achieve a modus vivendi on the Korean Peninsula based on new understandings among the powers concerned.

If ROK leaders do not proceed with the initiative, and if a further effort is made to postpone a General Assembly debate on Korea, the attempt would probably fail. There would be negative political consequences for the US as well as South Korea.

If the ROKs do proceed as planned, their initiative could lead to an eventual phasing out of the UN role in Korea, but this process need not endanger peace and stability there.

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Prospects for obtaining new, formal international guarantees to keep the peace in Korea would not be good. However, there would be scope for certain more limited moves by the powers that would reflect their interests and would contribute to stability — diplomatic recognition of the two Koreas by the great powers, endorsement of the Korean DMZ as a de facto boundary, and bilateral understandings to limit arms supplies to the peninsula. In the main, however, peace and stability would tend to rest — as it does today — on the interests of the powers in avoiding conflict and in the actions they took on a bilateral basis to limit adventurous or provocative actions by their Korean clients.

If the UN machinery, particularly the UN Command, were phased out before the achievement of some new international undertakings, the ROK Government would become somewhat more demanding in its security relationships with the US. Seoul would want reaffirmation of the bilateral security treaty. It would be less complacent than before when talk of US force reductions in Korea was broached. It might be less receptive to the idea of reducing ROK ground forces. It would be increasingly sensitive to any move to cut promised ROK force modernization outlays, and it might even request new and larger modernization packages.

[Omitted here is the body of the paper.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, OPI 122 (National Intelligence Council), Job 79R01012A, Box 467, NIE 42/14.2–73, Folder 6. Secret. All members of the U.S. Intelligence Board concurred in the estimate except the representatives of the FBI and the Department of Treasury, who abstained because the subject was outside of their jurisdiction. On June 18, Colby sent this NIE to Kissinger, as requested. Colby added, “The analysis in the NIE basically supports the approach advocated by State.” (Ibid.) [secret] On June 19, the Department sent instructions to Habib in telegram 118917 to Seoul. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files, Far East, Box 544, Korea, Volume 6, January 1973–October 1973.)
  2. The estimate assessed implications of South Korea’s diplomatic initiative.