January 26, 1968
Telegram from Pyongyang to Bucharest, TOP SECRET, No. 76.018, Urgent
This document was made possible with support from Leon Levy Foundation
On January 26 Aurelian Lazar had a talk with L. Kaoskovcki, Third Secretary of the Polish Embassy, who told our diplomat the following:
1. At the meeting of the NNSC [Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission] in Panmunjeom on January 24, attended by Polish representatives, the North Koreans and the Americans, contrary to their usual hardline and rude postures, exchanged their views in an extremely calm atmosphere, but with resoluteness, which denotes the great caution with which they are handling the situation. The North Koreans refused to discuss the January 21 incident, arguing that it cannot be the subject of the Armistice Commission, given that it was an act of South Korean patriots. As for the capture of the American ship, the North Koreans claim that it [the USS Pueblo] violated their territorial waters and it is therefore its prisoner, together with its entire crew.
2. The Polish representatives at Panmunjeom were surprised at the promptness of the DPRK’s acceptance of the meeting proposed by the Americans to discuss the incidents on January 21 and January 22. According to the Polish diplomat, this fact denotes that the North Koreans, as the instigators of these incidents, anticipated the request for this meeting and had prepared an answer in advance.
3. The Polish diplomat said that he had been informed that from January 10 to January 12 North Korean troops and peasant-worker guards conducted joint military exercises in the south of the DPRK. The senior leadership was satisfied with the outcomes of these exercises. Moreover, he pointed out that during the evenings of January 22 and January 23, several military units and workers’ guards departed from the Pyongyang railway station.
4. On January 22 the North Koreans announced to the Polish Embassy that a military facility would be erected in front of the Embassy and, more exactly, they would start working on an underground facility, which, according to the Polish diplomat, would function as either the entrance or the exit for a great underground bunker in Pyongyang.
5. The Polish representative told A. Lazar that the Polish Embassy was preparing its staff, especially the female personnel, to receive the news of the outbreak of a large-scale military conflict with as little panic as possible.
Signed: N. Popa
The Embassy of Romania in the DPRK summarizes the Polish response to USS Pueblo seizure, North Korean military maneuvers, and the construction of bunkers in Pyongyang.
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