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Digital Archive International History Declassified

June 24, 1975

MEMORANDUM FOR GENERAL SCOWCROFT FROM W.R. SMYSER, “DEFENSE OF THE NORTHWEST UNC-CONTROLLED ISLANDS IN KOREA"

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    Richard Smyser writes to General Brent Scowcroft about the defense of the five islands off the northwest coast of Korea and whether or not the defense of these islands is bound to the U.S.-South Korea Mutual Defense Treaty.
    "Memorandum for General Scowcroft from W.R. Smyser, “Defense of the Northwest UNC-Controlled Islands in Korea"," June 24, 1975, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, National Security Adviser Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 9, Korea (7). Obtained for NKIDP by Charles Kraus. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114037
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MEMORANDUM4333

NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL

SECRETGDSACTION

June 24, 1975

MEMORANDUM FOR:GENERAL SCOWCROFT

FROM: W.R. SMYSER

SUBJECT:Defense of the Northwest UNC-Controlled
Islands in Korea

Heightened concern about North Korea's intentions in the wake of the Indochina collapse has underscored the vulnerability of the five islands of£ the northwest coast of Korea. President Park, in a letter of May 12 to ROK Defense Minister Suh, instructed the Minister to work out jointly with General Stilwell a coordinated plan for the defense of the islands in case of large- scale surprise attack by the enemy. Minister Suh, in a subsequent letter to General Stilwell of May l3 requested that a clear-cut policy on the defense of the islands be established as soon as possible. Minister Suh specifically requested that the plans provide for the contingency employment of U.S. air and naval forces in the defense of the islands (see Tab B).

The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the MDT and thus whether or not to engage in joint planning. (A year ago when the ROK unilaterally reinforced the island garrison. whether or not to engage in joint planning. (A year ago when the ROK unilaterally reinforced the island. If we assume that joint planning is now appropriate and necessary, The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  th der thee MDT and thus whether or not to engage in joint planning. (A year ago when the RO K der th unilaterally reinforced the island garrison. unilaterally reinforced the island garrisoccc

Ambassador Sneider and General Stilwell have both recommended that we engage in joint planning regarding the islands The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  th der thee MDT and thus whether or not to engage in joint planning. (A year ago when the RO K der th unilaterally reinforced the island garrison. unilaterally reinforced the island garrisoccc The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  th der thee MDT and thus whether or not to engage in joint planning. (A year ago when the RO K der th unilaterally reinforced the island garrison. unilaterally reinforced the islan

State/Defense Position

A joint State/Defense message attached at Tab A reaffirms that the islands fit the definition of territory under ROK administrative control and therefore come under the MDT. The message authorizes CINCUNC to discuss planning for the defense of the islands with a view toward reaching uncle r standing that (a) the ROK will not act precipitously and unilaterally and CINCUNC will exercise opcon [operational control] of ROK forces; and (b) in the event of an attack on the islands, CINCUNC will immediately commit ROK forces but these commitments must not jeopardize the capability to defend the R OK as a whole. The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  th der thee MDT and thus whether or not to engage in joint planning. (A year ago when the RO K der th unilaterally reinforced the island garrison. unilaterally reinforced the island garrisoccc The issue is whether or not we shoul           

Our View

The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  th der thee MDT and thus whether or not to engage in joint planning. (A year ago when the RO K der th unilaterally reinforced the island garrison. unilaterally reinforced the island garrisoccc The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  th der thee MDT and thus whether The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  th der thee MDT and thus whether or not to engage in joint planning. (A year ago when the RO K der th unilaterally reinforced the island garrison. unilaterally reinforced the island garrisoccc The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  The issue is whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  th der thee Except for this addition, we recommend approval of the joint State I Defense message. Joint planning will remove the element of ambiguity regarding our commitment, will reassure the ROK, and once Pyongyang hears of it may constrain DPRK adventures. By asserting CINCUNC opcon, we will also be better able to control ROK response and to head off any precipitous:: ROK effort whether or not we should affirm that the islands indeed fall under the de  th der thee MDT and thus whether or not to engage in joint planning. (A year ago when the RO K der th unilaterally reinforced the island garrison. unilaterally reinforced the island garrisoccc The issue

Recommendation

That you approve the joint Defense/State cable at Tab A with our recommend addition.

Approve _____Disapprove ____



Approve without our addition ____________