281. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Kissinger and the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (Habib), Washington, August 18, 1976, 10:05 a.m.1 2

AUGUST 18, 1976

10:05 a.m.

K: When EA returns from the toilet will you tell them...

H: I have already told them.

K: I want retaliatory action.

H: They understand.

K: What is their definition of retaliatory action.

H: They were told to consider what military actions there could be.

K: Are there fishing boats we could shoot-up or capture.

H: Yes there are fishing boats. There are things that we or the South Koreans could do. There are means of retaliating along the DMZ itself. All of these though are facing two very strong arms of camps along the line. Fishing ships are vulnerable, because there are more South Korean fishing boats. There are not so many military vessels.

K: We cannot have Americans killed. I hope that is clear.

H: I have made that very clear to them. I have impressed on them the seriousness of these and that you want to impress this on them.

K: How could it happen that there were no Americans there.

H: I have many suspicions about that. The account from the Embassy has gaps. For example say when they went there they talked to the North Korean who said O.K. trim the trees. Then he told them to stop. A while later 30 North Koreans came. How much later; why are they not talking about it; where was our action team.

K: Why trim trees there at all.

H: These things go on all the time there. Tourists go there, press go there. Meetings are held there. It is the only spot where the two sides are sort of face to face. It is supposed to be a special demilitarized area. The only things to be carried are small arms but where were our action teams. We have a whole team trained the minute anything looks like it is going to happen. Where were they; why weren’t they called.

K: Are they getting me answers by 12:00.

H: Yes. All the answers and a clear map of the area showing where each incident happened.

K: I may move it up to 11.

[Page 2]

H: I will tell them to hurry up. You may move it to 11:00.

K: O.K.

  1. Source: Department of State, Electronic Reading Room, Transcripts of Kissinger Telephone Conversations. Unclassified.
  2. Kissinger and Habib discussed a North Korean attack on South Korean and U.S. soldiers who were pruning a tree in the demilitarized zone.