Created: 4/17/1969

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Intelligence Memorandum





CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Directorate of Intelligence9


Communist Reactions to Certain US Actions

North Korean attack on the USike the seizure of the Pueblo, appears toa unilateral action taken without advanceeither Moscow or Peking. This state ofcondition Soviet and Chinese Communistand reactions to US courses of action inas it did in the Pueblo crisis. Theremajor difference between these twothat complicates the problem ofUS responses that would produce theimpact on North Korea and its In contrast to the Pueblo affair,elements susceptible to negotiation,situation does not lend itself toexchange. Moreover, the possible objectives of

US actions, apart from straightforward retaliation, involve the principles of maintaining the right to use international airspace and deterrence against future such hostilities. Neither principle isapplicable to the North Korean problem particularly in terms of securing specific responses by Pyongyang.

problem of developing meaningfulUS courses of action is also complicated

Hote: This memorandum wae produced solely by CIA It wae prepared by the Office of Currentand coordinated with the Office of national Setimatee and the Office of Strategic Reeearah.

by the assumptions and motivations underlying North Korea's action. The Kim Il-sung regime almost certainly planned this move in advance calculating that the potential advantages in taking this risk far outweighed the dangers of possible US military reprisals. This judgment, and North Korea's evaluation of future US initiatives, probably are stronglyby the Korean's interpretation of the US response to the seizure of the Pueblo. Kim II- ung evidently has persuaded himself that the US is overextended in Vietnam and elsewhere and that North Korea therefore can engage in such deliberate acts of defiance with relative impunity. The North Koreans probably made the decision to attack the reconnaissance aircraft on the assumption that there would either be no US military response or at the mostnited one, in the nature of aretaliatory action.

3. We believe that two main factors contributed to North Korea's complacent appraisal of risks. Kim Il-sung's style of rule has long been characterizedillingness to accept risks andtrong reliance on bluff and intimidation. He has taken pride in his militant "revolutionary" stance and has ridiculed Peking and Moscow for their caution in dealing with US power. ajor theme of North Korean propaganda, particularly since the Pueblo incident, isetermined small nation canmighty imperialist." ore specific motivation for the shootdown probably resides in Kim ll-song's desire to offset the failure of his attempts over the past two years too-called "people's war* in the South and to undermine and disrupt the South Korean government and economy. Kim, moreover, evidently believes his long-term ambitions regarding South Koreaigh level of tension with the US. Periodic provocations, he



hopes, will contribute to the disillusionment of the American public with overseas burdens and bringeduction and eventual withdrawal of US forces from South Korea.

4. In view of these North Korean assumptions and ambitions, it is doubtful that any of the US courses of action considered below would have any decisive or lasting effects, either in achieving stated US objectives or in inducing Pyongyang to modify its long-term policies. Embassy Seoul has suggested that if the US response takes the formilitary threat orimited strike, "the benefits to North Korea will be manifold." ery tough populace will be spurred to greator feats of production and sacrifice, and the disputes within the North Korean leadership that have been hinted at in recent pronouncements may be stilled in the face of tangible external pressure. Such gains for the regime, in tho Embassy's judgment, wouldthe physical losses anticipatedimited US retaliatory strike.

5. Show of force: The North Koreans probably would view actions such as demonstrative air and naval maneuvers in proximity to Northepetition of the US response to the Pueblo seizure. They would be inclined to interpret such demonstrations as indicating US unwillingness to resort to any direct application of force that might carry high risksesumption of major The North Koreans would attempt to extract maximum propaganda advantagehow of force in the Military Armistice Commission forum and elsewhere. It is unlikely, however, that they would feelto challenge this US air and naval presence by direct air or surface action.

6. Military actions not involving combatwould not deter tho North Koreans from increasing


harassment and other forms of pressure in theZone area. In fact, they might view an intensification of such pressure as an effective means of stimulating international concern over the danger of major hostilities, thus bringing heavy pressure to bear on the US to withdraw the show of force. We believe that there is little prospect that this course of action would induce the North Koreans to apologize publicly for the shootdown or undertake to avoid such actions in the future.

7. Military Combat Options:

We believe it is unlikely that any of those actions would accomplish the objectives ofdeterrence or maintenance of the right to use international airspace. The North Koreans would use all the capabilities at their command to inflictlosses on any US strike forces. They wouldwith virulent propaganda attacks and wouldthe limited diplomatic assets available to them to discredit the US action and build pressure for its prompt termination. We do not believe, however, that the North Koreans would undertake major retaliatory military actions against US/South Korean militaryor civilian facilities in the South, although we cannot exclude the possibility that they mightarget of opportunity, suchS naval unit engaged in hostile action against North Korea.

8. Pyongyang's initial reaction probably would be to play for time in which to assess the nature of US intentions. They would seek to engage the US in protracted talks in the MAC, partlyevice to forestall further and more dangerous US reprisals and partly to exploit that forum for attractingsympathy and support.

clues as to North Korea'sto US combat options are provided byin the weeks immediately followingseizure. Thereignificant declineharassment activities in the DMZthe late spring apturedthe large North Korean infiltration teamon South Korea's east coast lasttestifiedajor seaborneoriginally scheduled forfter the seizure of the Pueblo in


reactions to US moves short ofactions would probably be similar toafter tho Pueblo incident, whenwas aimed at limiting the scale of USand providing strong verbal support towhile keeping clear of involvement in Moscow would probably react to USsome purposefully visible militarythe upper end of the nonconbat scale, inbecause it could not be certain the US did

not intend to apply direct force. We believe the USSR would be extremely careful, however, to avoid involvement with US reconnaissance aircraft and would limit itself toS naval show of force in the Sea of Japan. If Moscowthat this was the extent of the US reaction, it would probably be satisfied to confine its responsetream of propaganda abuse.

reaction to US combat actionscourse, be stronger. The nature and extentreaction would depend largely on what typethe US made and especially on whether orSoviets felt itne-shot action or one

eries of moves which would ultimately threaten the existence of the North Korean regime. Thewould probably be skeptical of any USthat no further actions were contemplated, but their desire to avoid involvement would probably induce them toait-and-see attitude.




US actions included the sinking ofKorean patrol craft or the downing of anoutside Korean territory, Moscow could beto denounce the US and press for Unitedactions condemning the US and demandingterminate such actions. Moscow might alsoto announce through Red Star or somemedium the increased combat readiness ofEastern forces and to make much of the factUS actions occurred in proximity to Soviet This would be calculated to impress on the

US the seriousness of Moscow's concern and to deterfurther US actions.

in force across the DMZ orthat threatened to lead to majordoubtless calltronger Sovietwould probably feel it necessary toand air units in the Sea of Japan andincrease its military readiness. might well provide equipment to Northa crash basisemonstration of theirto the mutual assistance treaty. probably would accompany such measures

with counsels of restraint to the North Koreans,tho effectiveness of Soviet influence would be questionable.

action of longer duration, such asblockade or raining of ports, would createpossibilityS-Sovietwould certainly feel such actions soits borders would callignificantof military preparedness and strengtharea. The Soviets would probablymoveshallenge to themselves as wellthe Koreans. We think Moscow wouldilitary confrontation, but in viewSoviet presence in the area, tho riskor accidental US-Soviet clashes wouldeven if the Russians made no attempta blockade directly.


reaction to noncombatprobably would closely follow the linesChina's cautious treatment of the Pueblo affair.

In view of the strained relations between Peking and Pyongyang, the Chinese would have littleto provide moreoutine verbalof support for North Korea and denunciation of the US. Noncombat US actions probably would be interpreted by Peking as confirming its over-all view of US policy, particularly its conviction that the US is unwilling to face the risks of majorescalation in either Korea or Vietnam.

16. US combat type actions would reinforce Peking's extreme caution. The Chinese loaders almost certainly would not feol bound by their treaty with North Korea toilitary response and they probably would even be reluctant to provide more than token military assistance. There is no reason to believe that the Chinese would be any less determined toirect military confrontation with the US in thisthan they were in the Pueblo crisis. Peking, of course, would be alert to exploit any signs of North Korean dissatisfaction with Moscow's reaction and support and an opening of this kind mightin more generous material assistance than the Chinese would otherwise be disposed to provide.

North Vietnam

17. The Hanoi leaders probably would have ambivalent feelings regarding the implications of US actions in Korea. Hanoi radio quickly praised the North Koreans for their "glorious achievement" in downing the US aircraft. The North Vietnamese probably wouldoncombat response as further evidence for their long-cherishedthat the US is overextended in Vietnam and cannotider conflict. They would also hope that the Korean incident would further fuel the fires of American public discontent with the Vietnam war. On the other hand, Hanoi is very sensitive to the danger that North Koreanmightigorous US militarythat would have the effect of deflecting public attention from the Vietnam struggle and enable the us administration tooremilitary and negotiating posture.




jCRET Sensil

South Korea

Seoul government probably wouldthe same frustration and uneasinessactions that marked its reaction tohandling of the Pueblo crisis. Any publicof this dissatisfaction, however, wouldby Seoul's recognition that one ofmajor objectives is to shake Southin US protection and to drive aSouth Korea and the US. Combat-typethe other hand, would be warmly welcomedas evidenceajor change in the UStoward North Korean pressure andKorea might press the US to go beyondand undertake atimitedassault across tho DMZ aimed at inflicting

a highly damaging military and political defeat.

General World Reaction

As in the case of the Pueblo, the great majority of nations and governments will regard this aircraft incident as largely irrelevant to their interests and security. They will discern no major international principle which requires them to become involved in any significant way. Their main preoccupation will be the danger of some chain of events that might lead to abetween the US and the USSR.

Most American allies in West Europe would be prepared to provide public support for any US diplomatic initiatives, on the ground that the North Koreans had violated international law, but they would be alarmed at any move toward military retaliation for what they regardelatively minor episode in the cold war. They would avoid association with the use or the threat of force and might try to bring pressure to bear on the US if they judged such US action to be imminent.

In general, Latin American opinion would follow that of Western Europe. Most of thesewould be willing to support the US upoint, but to them, the shoot-down and its possible


consequences would seem remote from their interests and security. Most nations in Africa and in non-Communist Asia would tend tolague-on-both houses attitude, and their double-standard neutralism would tend to make them view US reprisalsorm of "colonial* pressure. Nationalist China. South Vietnam and Thailand, of course, would voico support for the US in varying degrees of firmness. Japan would be extremely sensitive to any use of homeland or Okinawan bases as staging areas for US ratalla-tory action.

rs IS)

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