253. National Security Decision Memorandum 251, Washington, March 29, 1974.1 2


March 29, 1974

National Security Decision Memorandum 251

TO: The Secretary of Defense
The Deputy Secretary of State
Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

SUBJECT: Termination of the U.N. Command in Korea

The President has reviewed the response to NSSM 190 and agency comments thereon, and has made the following decisions:

1. Negotiating Packages

To maintain and improve ROK security the United States should seek:

  • — Substitution of U.S. and ROK military commanders for the Commander-in-Chief United Nations Command as our side’s signatory to the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement. The ROK and North Korean representatives should then become the principal members of the Military Armistice Commission.
  • — Tacit acceptance by the other side of a continued U.S. force presence in South Korea for at least the short term, in return for a Shanghai-type communiqué committing ourselves to reduce and ultimately withdraw U.S. forces as the security situation on the Peninsula is stabilized.
  • — A non-aggression pact between the two Koreas.
  • U.N. Security Council endorsement of the agreed-upon package of substitute security arrangements.
  • — Avoidance of other changes in the Armistice Agreement.

2. Negotiating Strategy

A two-track negotiating strategy should be pursued, with the Seoul-Pyongyang track being primary. In the second track, the U.S. should [Page 2] make parallel approaches to the major powers involved — the PRC, Soviet Union, and Japan. Specifically, we should:

  • — Consult with the ROK before making proposals to any of the major powers. We should also seek ROK agreement to transfer operational control of ROK forces from CINCUNC, upon its termination, to a new U.S.-ROK combined command under a senior U.S. military officer.
  • — Keep the Soviets generally informed but discourage any spoiling role or direct Soviet involvement.
  • — After contacts with the PRC, inform other members of the UNC Liaison Group, as well as allies which contributed forces to the UNC.
  • — Keep Japan continuously informed. In addition, (a) seek an explicit agreement from the Japanese Government which would extend the secret 1961 Kishi Minute to the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty following termination of the UNC, but (b) not seek any extension in Japan of third country basing rights under the U.N. Status of Forces Agreement following termination of the UNC.

The minimum objective of the United States in this negotiating approach is to place ourselves by early summer in a defensible position for possible debate of the Korean issue in the U.N. General Assembly this coming fall.

3. U.S. Force Presence in South Korea

There should be no substantial changes in the level or missions of our forces in the ROK during the period of transition to new security arrangements following termination of the UNC.

Henry A. Kissinger

cc: Director of Central Intelligence
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H–246, NSDMs, NSDM 251. Top Secret; Sensitive. Copies were sent to the Director of Central Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  2. Kissinger issued NSDM 251 concerning the termination of the UN Command in Korea.