255. National Intelligence Analytical Memorandum 14.2–1–74, Washington, July 15, 1974.1 2



North Korea’s military strategy remains primarily defensive although its military buildup over the past several years has given the armed forces a significant offensive capability. North Korean strategy appears designed to maintain a military balance on the peninsula while providing flexibility to conduct a wide range of offensive as well as defensive operations.
The strategy provides for strong forward defenses on both coasts and along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and for distributing rather than concentrating firepower. Optimal use of North Korean forces for offensive purposes accordingly would require major redeployments of ground forces. An all-out offensive from present deployment probably would occur only if P’yongyang discerned a breakdown in South Korean internal stability or if a South Korean attack had failed. Intelligence sources can provide some warning that the North Koreans are making preparations for an attack and could probably detect preparations for any all-out offensive in time to provide at least a few hours warning.
The western islands will continue to be a special source of friction. The risk of an incident involving air or naval forces in the area remains, but any clash is not likely to lead to a major conflict.
The South Korean armed forces now appear strong enough to withstand a North Korean attack without the help of US ground forces, but would require US air and naval assistance and substantial logistical support. North Korea would also need substantial logistical support from its allies in any prolonged conflict.

[Omitted here is the body of the paper.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, OPI 122 (National Intelligence Council), Job 79R01012A, Box 480, NIAM 14.2–1–74, Folder 3. Top Secret. The memorandum was prepared by the CIA and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, and the National Security Agency. Concurred in by members from the CIA, INR, DIA, NSA; representatives from the AEC, FBI, and the Department of Treasury abstained. Representatives of the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force also participated.
  2. The memorandum assessed North Korea’s military and strategic intentions.