251. Memorandum From Richard Smyser and John Froebe of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger, Washington, February 11, 1974.1 2


February 11, 1974

FROM: W.R. SMYSER [WRS initialed]
JOHN A. FROEBE, JR. [JAF initialed]

SUBJECT: U.S. Plans to Expand Relations with North Korea

The U.S. Embassy here has informed the State Department (at the Korean Desk level) that it is prepared to recognize North Korea, but will not do so until after next fall’s U.N. General Assembly. The U.K. does intend, however, within the next few weeks to tell Pyongyang that they can open a trade office in London; the U.K. for its own part does not plan to open one in Pyongyang in the near future. London has informed Seoul of its contemplated move; the ROK reaction was strongly negative.

We are concerned over the potential consequences of the planned U.K. move, particularly since this would come on the heels of Australia’s recognition of North Korea, which will probably take place within the coming month:

  • — Others will be encouraged to follow suit, so as to be among the first and not the last to climb on board. The attached table (Tab A) of Asian and Western European states having diplomatic and consular relations with either or both Koreas makes clear that there are several states in Asia and perhaps half a dozen in Western Europe that would be stimulated to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea. (Tokyo would hopefully do no more than accelerate its expansion of trade and cultural relations with Pyongyang.) Our concern, of course, is that this would happen in the absence of any reciprocal movement from the Communist states toward South Korea. This is likely to be the outcome, given Australia’s intention to go ahead despite the unresponsiveness of the East European states it has approached on this score.
  • — North Korea will be encouraged toward intransigence, which will be particularly important to us as it may affect our upcoming negotiations over the termination of the U.N. Command.
  • — North Korea’s success will add to the Park Government’s problems as it grapples with the recently intensified political criticism at home.

State (EA) does not believe that the U.K. move, any more than Australian recognition of North Korea, will impact adversely on our upcoming negotiations on the UNC. We disagree. While we cannot positively assert that their moves will have a substantial impact, we believe this to be a risk that we should not take.

We believe it would be useful if Under Secretary Sisco would call in the U.K. Ambassador and ask that the U.K. delay any approach to North Korea on a trade office or otherwise expanded relations until after next fall’s UNGA. The U.K. may be somewhat reluctant since it has already informed Seoul of its intended move — although London’s proceeding in this manner seems to be something short of the sort of consultations we might hope for on this problem.


That you ask Under Secretary Sisco to call in the U.K. Ambassador to urge him strongly to delay any approach to North Korea on a trade office or otherwise expanded relations until after next fall’s UNGA.

Approach [HK initialed]

Concurrences: Mr. Solomon

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files, Far East, Box 544, Korea, Volume 7, November 1973–. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Concurred in by Soloman. Kissinger initialed his approval of the recommendation. Attached but not published is the table of states.
  2. Smyser and Froebe recommended that Kissinger ask Sisco to urge the British Ambassador to delay an expansion of relations with North Korea.