Saturday, March 25, 2017

Other Impressive Monuments on the 1917 Arras Battlefield

My spring Western Front battlefield tour is coming up in May and  I'm  including visit to the 1917 Battle of Arras sites. Of course, the most famous of those is Vimy Ridge, with its spectacular Canadian monument. In pulling my notes together I've been reminded that there are other impressive memorials  in the area. Here are seven that are interesting-looking and represent a dramatic aspect of the fighting 100 years ago.

On the opening day of the battle, 9 April 1917 the 9th (Scottish) Division, advanced and took the German positions around Pont du Jour, east of Arras. This Scottish cairn, similar to one for the 9th Division on the Somme battlefield was moved from its original location to make it more accessible.

Nearby, in the sunken lane at Fampoux, is this monument to the Seaforth Highlanders who attacked Roeux 11 April 1917. 

The inscription reads:








1914 – 1918

The Arras Memorial to the Missing in the Faubourg-d'Amiens Cemetery incorporates a monument to the British and Commonwealth aviators of the war. The ARRAS FLYING SERVICES MEMORIAL commemorates almost 1,000 airmen of the Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Air Force, either by attachment from other arms of the forces of the Commonwealth or by original enlistment, who were killed on the whole Western Front and who have no known grave.

The Newfoundland Caribou Monument at Monchy-le-Preu is one of five on the Western Front. The most famous, of course, is at Beaumont-Hamel on the Somme battlefield.

The capture of Monchy-le-Preux is one of the notable achievements of the Battle of Arras. It was finally secured by the Newfoundland Regiment. The initial, and main, assault was made by the 37th Division. It's effort is commemorated in this unique three-figure memorial located on the hill that commanded the approaches. 

One of the fightingest divisions of the British Army was the 63rd Naval Division, which went into the line at Arras on the fifth day of the battle at the village of Gavrelle. There they engaged in desperate house-to-house fighting with the German defenders. When they cleared the village they discovered the enemy had covered any possible avenue of advance with machine guns. The monument is said to express the idea of the Royal Naval Division anchored within the ruins of the village.

To conclude, here's one that as of this writing has yet to be dedicated. This sculpture portrays an New Zealand sapper—note the lemon squeezer hat—under the earth. It will be placed at the museum of the Wellington Quarries in Arras. The vast tunnel system from Arras was in good part dug by the Kiwis.

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Late Arriving: But the Men of the AEF's 40th Division Saw a Lot of Action

Shoulder Patch—40th "Sunshine" Division

The 40th Division of the AEF was composed primarily of National Guardsmen from California  and the nearby western states. It was initially formed up in August 1917 at Camp Kearney in southern California. However, its manpower was depleted by 8,000 men to fill  out other divisions in late 1917. The division was not brought up to full staffing until the summer of 1918, but the training regimen had not been completed when the division was ordered to France. Its most famous member when it departed was comedian Buster Keaton.

The Division Training at Camp Kearney

On 26 July 1918, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, followed by the different units, entrained for overseas duty, the entire 40th Division arriving in France during the month of August 1918, where it became the Sixth Depot Division or replacement division. As a unit, 40th Division saw no active service at the front, but its officers, and men formed parts of the First, Second, Third, Twenty-sixth, Seventy-seventh, and Seventy-ninth Divisions at St. Mihiel and in the Argonne. On 20 September 1918, a few days before [the Meuse-Argonne] drive an order reached the 40th Division Headquarters for 5000 infantry replacements, including officers, to be sent to divisions at the front. Of that number, 2500 were taken from the 159th and 160th Regiments. The 5000 officers and men of the 40th Division became part of the 77th Infantry Division during the Meuse-Argonne drive, and 100 men of Company G , 160th Infantry, were in the famous "Lost Battalion."  

Capt. Holderman

The Lost Battalion group included Capt. Nelson Holderman, who received the Medal of Honor for his part in the action. His road to the Argonne is instructive as to what service around the time of the Great War could involve for a National Guardsman. He had served in Company L [Santa Ana], 7th California Infantry Regiment during the Mexican Border Service and then in the 160th Infantry Regiment, until his company was reassigned in total as Company K, 307th Infantry Regiment.

All units of the National Guard that engaged in active service were present at the two  major offensives, the St . Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne. By 11 November 1918, the 40th Division had processed over 27,000 replacements into the front lines, and ranked seventh among the combat divisions of the A.E.F. in casualties. Of the men who started out with the 40th Division 2,587 were killed in battle, 11,596 were wounded in action, 70 taken prisoner, and 103 died due to other reasons.With the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, the units of the 40th Division returned to California and were discharged at Camp Kearney and the Presidio of San Francisco, their services being no longer required. The last unit of the California National Guard, Company A, 115th Field Signal Battalion, was demobilized 16 July 1919 .

Sources: History of the California National Guard and Naval Militia in World War I
1917-1919, and California and the Lost Battalion.  Thanks to Sgt. Major  Dan Sebby for letting us know about these resources.

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Men in War Reviewed by David F. Beer

Men in War

by Andreas Latzko

BiblioBazaar reprint, 2016. First published in 1917.

What was a man who lay gasping on the road to him? One man more or less. In the rhythmic regularity of the marching column, he had passed by thousands like him, and it had never occurred to his mind, dulled by weariness, that the grey spots thickly strewn over the fields, the heaps lining the roadway like piles of dung in the spring, were human beings struck down by death (p. 117). Men in War is a psychologically penetrating scream against the horrors of World War One. Its six chapters stand alone as short stories or vignettes, each revealing what the war could do in one way or another to its participants. The author well knew what he was writing about: Andreas Latzko was a Hungarian Jew who served as an officer in the Imperial and Royal Wehrmacht of Austria-Hungary. When war between Italy and Austria-Hungary broke out he was sent to the front on the Isonzo River, where he contracted malaria. He was forced to fight on for some time before suffering severe shock during a heavy Italian artillery attack near Gorizia (or Goerz). He then spent eight months in hospital before going to Davos for more convalescence. During this period he wrote Men in War.
Andreas Latzko
Although the author describes background settings and events with evocative clarity, his real subject matter is the human mind and what war can do to it. The opening chapter, for example, describes an officers' hospital behind the front. A group of patients enjoys a warm evening outside by the fountain while in the distance the big guns growl. The conversation turns to what each felt was the worst thing about the war. Suddenly one of them, whose timid wife is visiting him, screams out: "What was the most awful thing? The only awful thing is the going off. You go off to war—and they let you go. That's the awful thing." He continues, "sputtering from his twitching lips with a fury that cast out the words like a seething stream," with a piercing attack on the wives and families who had betrayed them all by cheering them off to war, rather than holding them back at all costs from the horrors. Eventually this "crazy" officer is restrained and taken back to his bed. Evening becomes night, others go back to their wards where they still hear screams from their demented comrade. An old watchman outside clenched his fist, "and sent out a long curve of saliva from between his teeth, and muttered in a disgust that came from the depths of his soul: "Hell!" Suffice it to say (not to be a spoiler), each chapter is centered on a specific event or circumstance that plumbs the depth of psychological and emotional torture brought on by the war. Many subtopics are familiar, such as ignorant or uncaring civilians, hideous and haunting deaths, the conditions of troops versus high-ranking staff, and the homecoming of the mutilated. These and other themes are all used to undergird the powerful emotions of anger, fear, and resentment that carry the book along, such as this from a soldier7 who has had his fill of what he refers to as "man salad."

Men come home with motionless, astonished eyes, still reflecting death. They walk about shyly, like somnambulists in brightly lighted streets. In their ears there still resound the bestial howls of fury that they themselves bellowed into the hurricane of the drumfire so as to keep from bursting from inner stress. They come loaded down, like beasts of burden, with horrors, the astonished looks of bayoneted, dying foes on their conscience-and they don't dare open their mouths… (p. 91).

Austro-Hungarian Amputees
Men in War is not a long book (124 pages in the reprint I have), and the translator has done an excellent job. It reads clearly and easily, without hesitation—but the subject matter gives us considerable pause for reflection and even shock. No wonder Latzko first published it anonymously, and although soon a great success, it was banned for some time by most of the countries involved in the Great War. It is certainly one of the most powerful antiwar books I have ever read.

David F. Beer

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Opinion Analysis: Asleep and unconscious are different from being otherwise unaware, in United States v. Sager, No. 16-0418/NA

CAAF decided the Navy case of United States v. Sager, __ M.J. __, No. 16-0418/NA (CAAFlog case page) (link to slip op.), on  Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Reviewing the text of Article 120(b)(2), as incorporated by Article 120(d), CAAF concludes that the language "asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware" creates three separate theories under which an accused may be convicted. The court reverses the decision of the Navy-Marine Corps CCA that found that the language creates only a single theory of criminal liability, and remands the case for further consideration.

Chief Judge Erdmann writes for the court, joined by all but Judge Stucky who dissents.

Aviation Ordnanceman Airman (E-3) Sager was convicted contrary to his pleas of not guilty, by a general court-martial composed of members with enlisted representation, of one specification of abusive sexual contact in violation of Article 120(d) (2012). That statute criminalizes sexual contact in the same way that Article 120(b) criminalizes sexual acts. The Government charged Sager with two specifications, both related to a sexual encounter between Sager and his roommate. One specification alleged that the roommate was incapable of consenting due to intoxication, while the other alleged that the roommate was asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware. The members acquitted Sager outright of the specification implicating intoxication, but returned findings by exceptions to the specification implicating unawareness:

On appeal, Sager asserted that the specification was unconstitutionally vague because it failed to identify how the roommate was otherwise unaware, and also that the finding is factually and legally insufficient because the evidence indicated that the roommate was either asleep or unconscious. Sager's argument was essentially that the statute's enumeration of asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware creates three separate and distinct theories of criminal liability. The NMCCA, however, rejected this argument, concluding that:

asleep or unconscious are examples of how an individual may be "otherwise unaware" and are not alternate theories of criminal liability.

United States v. Sager, No. 201400356, slip op. at 7 (N-M. Ct. Crim. App. Dec. 29, 2015) (link to slip op.). From this conclusion the NMCCA then found that evidence of the roommate's degree of intoxication or unconsciousness was relevant, and it affirmed the conviction. CAAF then granted review of two issues questioning both the meaning of the statute and the adequacy of the CCA's review of the evidence:

I. In affirming the abusive sexual contact conviction, the lower court relied on facts of which the members acquitted appellant. Was this error?

II. Article 120(d), UCMJ, prohibits sexual contact on another person when that person is "asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware." Despite these specific statutory terms, the lower court held that "asleep" and "unconscious" do not establish theories of criminal liability, but only the phrase "otherwise unaware" establishes criminal liability. Did the lower court err in its interpretation of Article 120(d), UCMJ?

In today's opinion Chief Judge Erdmann and the majority answer the second issue in the affirmative, finding that the CCA erred in its statutory interpretation, but decline to answer the first issue, remanding it to the CCA for further review. Judge Stucky, however, would affirm the conviction.

Sager's conviction is of Article 120(d), 10 U.S.C. 920(d), which states:

(d)Abusive Sexual Contact.—
Any person subject to this chapter who commits or causes sexual contact upon or by another person, if to do so would violate subsection (b) (sexual assault) had the sexual contact been a sexual act, is guilty of abusive sexual contact and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

The statutory language at issue, however, comes from Article 120(b)(2), 10 U.S.C. 920(b)(2), which states:

(b)Sexual Assault.—Any person subject to this chapter who— . . . (2) commits a sexual act upon another person when the person knows or reasonably should know that the other person is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware that the sexual act is occurring; . . . . . .

is guilty of sexual assault and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Statutory interpretation begins with the plain meaning of the text of the statute, and Chief Judge Erdmann needs look no further than the plain language in this case:

In reviewing the language in question, we note that the words, "asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware," are separated by the disjunctive, "or." "In ordinary use the word 'or' … marks an alternative which generally corresponds to the word 'either.'" Earl T. Crawford, The Construction of Statutes § 188 (1940); see also Reiter v. Sonotone Corp., 442 U.S. 330, 339 (1979) ("Canons of construction ordinarily suggest that terms connected by a disjunctive be given separate meanings, unless the context dictates otherwise; here it does not."). Under the "ordinary meaning" canon of construction, therefore, "asleep," "unconscious," or "otherwise unaware" as set forth in Article 120(b)(2) reflect separate theories of liability. Sager, 2015 CCA LEXIS 571, at *9, 2015 WL 9487926, at *3.

In addition, the phrase "otherwise unaware" is important to the context of the offense. Webster's Third New International Dictionary Unabridged 1598 (2002), defines "[o]therwise" as, "in a different way or manner." Under a plain reading of this language, therefore, the words "otherwise unaware" mean unaware in a manner different from asleep and different from unconsciousness.

Finally, to accept the view that the words "asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware," create only one theory of criminality would be to find that the words "asleep," "unconscious," and "or" are mere surplusage. This we are unwilling to do. See Yates v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1074, 1085 (2015) ("[T]he canon against surplusage is strongest when an interpretation would render superfluous another part of the same statutory scheme.") (internal quotation marks omitted) (citation omitted). We therefore hold that the CCA erred in its interpretation of Article 120(d) when it "conclude[d] that asleep or unconscious are examples of how an individual may be 'otherwise unaware' and are not alternate theories of criminal liability." Sager, 2015 CCA LEXIS 571, at *9, 2015 WL 9487926, at *3.

Slip op. at 6-7 (emphasis added).

Having found that the CCA erred in its statutory interpretation, the majority remands the case for a new legal and factual sufficiency review by the CCA. But Chief Judge Erdmann also advises the CCA to consider Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 185 (1957), which involved alternative charges of first and second degree murder leading to a conviction of second degree murder but no clear verdict on the first degree charge. The Supreme Court found that to be an acquittal on the first degree charge for double jeopardy purposes. The Chief Judge does not explain exactly how Green might apply, but I suspect the majority is concerned about the two alternative theories – that the alleged victim was asleep or unconscious – that the members neither accepted nor explicitly rejected in their findings.

Judge Stucky's dissent begins with a statement that he "agree[s] with the majority's conclusion that 'otherwise' means 'in a different way or manner,' and thus that the United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals misstated the law in saying that 'asleep or unconscious are examples of how an individual may be otherwise unaware.'" Diss. op. at 1. But his dissent also seems to suggest that the three theories are all really part of one bigger theory of criminal liability under the statute. Specifically a footnote explains that:

Faced with broad testimony and three reasons [asleep, unconscious, and otherwise unaware -zds], an astute panel might have selected "otherwise unaware" not as a rejection of the theory that the victim was "asleep" or "unconscious," but rather because "otherwise unaware" is the language that establishes the boundaries of the element as a whole: "unaware" for any reason whatsoever.

Diss. op. at 2 n.1 (emphasis added). Furthermore, analyzing the disjunctive language of the specification in this case, Judge Stucky presents the three theories as mere questions of fact:

Contrary to the military judge's instructions and the worksheet, we have long held that "military criminal practice requires neither unanimous panel members, nor panel agreement on one theory of liability, as long as two-thirds of the panel members agree that the government has proven all the elements of the offense." United States v. Brown, 65 M.J. 356, 359 (C.A.A.F. 2007) (citing United States v. Vidal, 23 M.J. 319, 325 (C.M.A. 1987)). In my opinion, the court members did not have to decide between the two theoriesries set out above. Two-thirds of the members just had to agree that he knew or reasonably should have known.

Similarly, in my opinion, the court members did not have to select one of the three statutory reasons a victim could be unaware of the sexual contact. As amply shown by the facts in this case, the evidence of which reason caused the victim to be unaware will often overlap.

The victim testified that he drank excessively, "passed out," and awoke to Appellant manually stimulating him, before Appellant then performed fellatio as the victim was too intoxicated to respond. For the specification alleging manual stimulation that we remand today, the panel was thus presented with evidence of sleep and unconsciousness, both due to intoxication. Was he just intoxicated, asleep, unconscious, or a combination thereof? The important thing is that the members did not have to agree on the reason. The required two-thirds just had to agree that the victim was unaware of the sexual contact. So even under a correct view of the statute, the CCA could consider any evidence bearing on whether the victim was "unaware," and need not artificially excise from its review the evidence tending to show that the victim was asleep or unconscious.

Diss. op. at 1-2 (emphases added).

Brown involved a conviction of indecent assault (as a lesser included offense of rape) by penetration, the penetration having been accomplished by either fingers, a sex organ, or both. The element in Brown was penetration, and CAAF held that it was not error to instruct the members disjunctively (and without objection by the defense) on different means by which that penetration could be proven. The court reached a similar conclusion in United States v. Vidal, 23 M.J. 319 (C.M.A. 1987), where it held that the findings need not differentiate between whether the accused was either the perpetrator or an aider and abettor:

If one-third of the members are satisfied that the accused personally fired the shot and another third find that he aided someone else in doing so, he can properly be convicted of murder, because two-thirds of the court members are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused, on one theory or another, committed murder at the particular time and place. Likewise, if several persons are acting to overcome a woman's resistance to sexual intercourse, but only one of them actually has such intercourse, the Government can still convict an accused, even though it cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether he personally had intercourse or only helped someone else have intercourse with the unwilling victim.

23 M.J. at 324.

I think the circumstances of Sager are very different from those of Brown and Vidal because Sager involves three distinct, statutorily-enumerated conditions. It strikes me as particularly significant that the conditions of being asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unaware are part of the offense, and not merely part of the definition of general unawareness or of non-consent.

Moreover, because those conditions were presented to the members disjunctively, and because the members returned a conviction based on only one of those conditions, I believe that the appellant was acquitted of the other two conditions (implicating Green, as discussed above). Judge Stucky, however, sees the reference to Green as involving the other specification (involving intoxication) of which Sager was acquitted outright, and he concludes that:

[A]cquittal of one charge carries no logical implications for the other. To the extent that evidence of the victim's intoxication is relevant to both charges, a panel and a reviewing court could permissibly consider that evidence in reviewing Appellant's conviction. That is the import of this Court's reasoning in United States v. Gutierrez, 73 M.J. 172, 176 (C.A.A.F. 2014) [CAAFlog case page], as well as in United States v. Rosario, __ M.J. __ (C.A.A.F. 2017) [(CAAFlog case page)]. Those cases, rather than Green, ought to inform the CCA's review on remand.

Diss op. at 3.

Case Links:
NMCCA opinion
Blog post: CAAF to review the alternative ways to sexually assault someone who is unaware
Appellant's brief
Appellee's (Government) brief
Appellant's reply brief
Blog post: Argument preview
• Oral argument audio
CAAF opinion
Blog post: Opinion analysis

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Reflecting on the Jutland Centennial

Monday, March 20, 2017 11:10 AM

The Battle of Jutland—where my grandfather, Sir John Jellicoe, commanded the British Grand Fleet on 31 May, 1916—was, and has remained, one of the most controversial battles of all time. Britain's expectations of a second Trafalgar were hopelessly unrealistic but fed by a very active press. Britain's navy had basked in its glory for more than one hundred years, thought and acted as if it were invincible and received a rude shock on the day. When an easy-to-understand victory, ready packaged for the national media to exploit was not achieved, the search for scapegoats began. My grandfather became the scapegoat.

Last year, 2016, Jutland's centenary year, the battle was in danger of being largely forgotten or at least overshadowed by the memory of the war in the trenches. It's ironic that in an age where maritime power is increasingly important, Britain has largely forgotten her monumental maritime heritage. The consequences of a momentary interruption to sea trade with globalized, interdependent and "just-in-time" economies would be catastrophic. My task was to make sure the battle was not only remembered, but that it was understood more clearly and that the judgement of my grandfather's role could be more established.

History must be passed on to expand horizons and learn what we can from the past. Today's younger generation has decidedly different media consumption habits and engages in an almost diametrically opposite manner to my own generation. The book had to be written, as much as anything, to establish the story but then it also needed to be taken into a digital world. A site, Jutland1916, was launched and site traffic topped out at 5,300 on the day. It will continue to be supported as a way of housing new content with stories of the ships and men who served on them. It is becoming a recognized research tool. An animation explaining the course of the battle was also developed. This was a primary vehicle to help convey a complex story with as much simplicity and in as engaging a way as possible. The 24-minute animation has been translated into German and had 350,000 plays online and will probably be seen by another 500,000 exhibition visitors in the UK, Germany and Denmark. It was even used at the United States Naval War College in 2016 as a precursor to the U.S. Navy's Jutland war game. An event which, though I could not attend personally, I was very proud to have contributed to. A documentary film was produced and has now been re-run on British national TV four or five times and will be shown on the Smithsonian channel in the United States on March 20th. Co-ordination between numerous exhibitions in Europe was encouraged and facilitated. Museum directors who had not known each other until 2015 have now started to use a cooperative model of sharing artifacts, content and ideas.

Layout 1

I'm happy to see the book, Jutland, The Unfinished Battle, hold its own. Robert Massie was kind enough to read early drafts and gave me both the encouragement and advice I needed. The book was a shortlisted nomination for the Mountbatten Award and has, I believe, been accepted as a work that, despite my own connections, avoided bias and told an engaging and clear story of the battle and its aftermath. In its pages was a QR code for readers to find primary source material on the Jutland1916site when they wanted. Given the fundamental role of the United States Navy in 1917 after America had entered the war, I'm equally happy that I will have a chance to talk one-to-one with audiences in the United States about Jutland, my grandfather's friendship with Admiral William Sims, USN and that the Jutland documentary has been taken on by the Smithsonian channel.

Writing "yet another book" on Jutland was a daunting task as I was neither a historian nor a writer by training. Rather, I spent the last forty years of my life in communications and marketing. Given the often-vitriolic debate between the rival camps following the battle's end that seemed to linger on through the century, it wasn't easy to write critically about my grandfather, someone whom I never knew but a person whom I came to greatly admire. I feel now that we accomplished many of the goals that we set out to—certainly the most important: the literature was expanded, major exhibitions launched, national media attention given, old memories preserved and new stories found. What more could one have hoped for?

A schedule of this author's U.S. talks follows.

4/3/2017 New York, NY 11:30 A.M., Naval Order of the U.S., Racquet & Tennis Club, 370 Park Ave., New York, NY 10022
4/4-6/2017 Newport, RI "Echoes of the First World War in the Twenty First Century," U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI
4/9/2017 Leesburg, VA 2:00 P.M., Thomas Balch Library, 208 West Market St., Leesburg, VA 20176
4/10/2017 Annapolis, MD 7:00 P.M., "Maritime Lecture Series.," U.S. Naval Academy, Mitscher Hall, Annapolis, MD 21402
4/11/2017 Washington, D.C. Noon, Ralph Bunche Library, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C ST., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520
4/11/2017 Washington, D.C. 6:30 P.M., University Club-Military History Legion, 1135 16th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036 | Members only.
4/12/2017 Washington, D.C. Noon, "Lunchtime Lecture Series," National Museum of the U.S. Navy Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.
4/14/2017 Laurel, MD 2:00 P.M., "Colloquium Lecture," JHU's Applied Physics Laboratory, 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd., Laurel, MD 20723 | Open to the public.
5/2/2017 Miami, FL 6:30 P.M., Books and Books, 927 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, FL 33139
5/6/2017 Los Angeles, CA Battleship Iowa BB 61, Pacific Battleship Center, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., Berth 87, Los Angeles, CA 90731

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

GAO-17-234, VA Disability Benefits: Additional Planning Would Enhance Efforts to Improve the Timeliness of Appeals Decisions, March 23, 2017

What GAO Found

The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) is taking steps to improve the timeliness of its benefit compensation appeals process, in which veterans who are dissatisfied with claims decisions by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) can appeal first to VBA, and then to the Board of Veterans' Appeals (the Board). VA has taken actions related to increasing staff, reforming the process, and updating information technology (IT), which are consistent with relevant sound planning practices. However, gaps in planning exist, thereby reducing the agency's ability to ensure that these actions will improve the timeliness of disability appeals decisions.

Increase staff: VA determined that staff resources have not sufficiently kept pace with increased pending appeals, and concluded that additional staff are needed, particularly at the Board, to improve timeliness and reduce its appeals inventory. The Board received approval to hire more staff in fiscal year 2017, and expects to need an additional hiring surge beginning in fiscal year 2018. As of October 2016, officials estimated that if the agency does not take any action, such as increasing staff in 2018, veterans may have to wait an average of 8.5 years by fiscal year 2026 to have their appeals resolved.

Consistent with sound workforce planning practices, VA modeled different options for increasing staff levels to support its conclusion that staff increases in conjunction with process change would reduce the appeals inventory sooner. However, contrary to sound practices, VA often used fixed estimates for key variables in its models—such as staff productivity—rather than a range of estimates (sensitivity analysis) to understand the effect variation in these key variables could have on staffing needs. Also, VA's written workforce plans—which cover recruiting, hiring and training—did not include detailed steps, time frames, and mitigation strategies consistent with sound workforce planning practices. For example, while VA has established a center for excellence in hiring to focus on recruitment and hiring the agency has not finalized training or telework plans or otherwise mitigated space constraints that it encountered for hiring staff in fiscal year 2017. Without a timely, detailed workforce plan, VA risks delays in hiring and preparing staff to help manage workloads as soon as possible.

Reform process: VA determined that new evidence—which a veteran can submit at any point during his or her appeal—inefficiently causes an additional round of reviews, and thus delays appeals decisions, and in response it proposed legislation (not enacted) to streamline the process. Consistent with sound practices for process redesign, VA worked with veterans service organizations (VSO) and other key stakeholders in developing the proposal, and continued to update VSOs about the development of its implementation plans.

VA's proposed reform is promising, but there are several gaps in its implementation plans. In particular, VA plans to fully implement appeals process reform at the Board as well as at VBA regional offices across the country while it concurrently manages the existing appeals inventory, a hiring surge, and planned system changes discussed below. However, VA's plans run counter to sound redesign practices that suggest pilot testing the process changes in a more limited fashion before full implementation, in order to manage risks and help ensure successful implementation of significant institutional change. VA officials told GAO that pilot testing—which would require legislation to implement—will prolong a process that is fundamentally broken and delay urgently needed repairs. However, without pilot testing VA may experience challenges and setbacks on a broader scale, which could undermine planned efficiencies and other intended outcomes. In addition, VA has not sufficiently identified how it will monitor progress, evaluate efficiency and effectiveness, identify trouble spots, and otherwise know whether implementation of its proposed process change is on track and meeting expectations. The absence of a robust monitoring plan with success criteria is inconsistent with sound planning practices for redesign and places the agency at risk of not being able to quickly identify and address setbacks. In addition, the timeliness measures that VA currently plans to report to Congress and the public lack transparency because they focus on individual parts of the agency and pieces of the new process rather than overall appeals resolution time from the veterans' perspective. Without a strategy for assessing the proposed new process that includes comprehensive measures, VA, the public, and Congress cannot know the extent to which the proposed process represents an improvement over the old process.

Update technology: VA determined that the computer system supporting its appeals process is outdated, prone to failures, and does not adequately support electronic claims processing. VA proposed a new IT system to reduce delays in appeals to the Board, and better integrate data from other systems. Consistent with sound practices, VA clearly laid out the scope and purpose of IT upgrades, and identified risks and strategies to mitigate them. However, the agency's plan lacks details for how and when its new system will be implemented, as suggested by sound planning practices for implementing new technology. Without a detailed schedule, VA risks not having new systems aligned with potential changes in the appeals process when they are implemented.

Why GAO Did This Study

VA compensates veterans for disabling conditions incurred in or aggravated by military service. Veterans can appeal VBA's decisions on their compensation claims, first to VBA and then to the Board, a separate agency within VA. In fiscal year 2015, more than 427,000 appeals were pending and veterans waited over 3 years on average for decisions. Of this total, about 81,000 were pending at the Board and the average cumulative time veterans waited for a decision by the Board in 2015 was almost 5 years.

This report examines VA's approaches to address challenges it identified as contributing to lengthy appeals processing times, and the extent to which those approaches are consistent with sound planning practices.

GAO focused mainly on the Board, which experienced an increase in workload of about 20 percent from fiscal year 2014 to 2015. GAO reviewed VA's proposed plans and actions and compared them to sound practices relevant to workforce planning and implementing process redesign and new information technology identified in federal guidance, such as internal control standards, and prior GAO work. GAO also analyzed VA's data for fiscal years 2011-2015 (the most recent available) on appeals decision timeliness and workloads; reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and planning documents; and interviewed VA officials and veterans service organizations.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making five recommendations to VA and one matter for congressional consideration. VA should: apply sensitivity analyses when projecting staff needs, develop a more timely and detailed workforce plan, develop a robust plan for monitoring process reform, develop a strategy for assessing process reform, and create a schedule for IT improvements that takes into account plans for potential process reform. VA concurred in principle with the five recommendations, but believes it has met the intent of those recommendations and does not need to take additional action. GAO disagrees and—while recognizing VA's ongoing efforts—believes further action is needed on all five recommendations to improve VA's ability to successfully implement reforms, as discussed in the report.

VA disagreed with an additional draft recommendation that it incorporate pilot testing of its proposed appeals process into implementation plans and pursue necessary legislative authority. VA cited its perspective that the appeals process is broken and that piloting a new process would result in further delays to veterans appealing their disability decisions. GAO maintains that the benefits of pilot testing—which provides an opportunity to resolve implementation challenges and make refinements to the process on a smaller scale—outweigh the potentially negative consequences of delaying full implementation. Therefore, GAO removed the recommendation and added a matter for congressional consideration stating that Congress should consider requiring that appeals process reform be subject to a pilot test.

For more information, contact Daniel Bertoni at (202) 512-7215 or

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

GAO-17-80, Defense Commissaries: DOD Needs to Improve Business Processes to Ensure Patron Benefits and Achieve Operational Efficiencies, March 23, 2017

What GAO Found

The Department of Defense (DOD) lacks reasonable assurance that it is maintaining its desired savings rate for commissary patrons. The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), which manages the commissaries, has a methodology for calculating the annual savings rate that patrons realize by shopping at commissaries rather than commercial grocery stores. In fiscal year 2015, the most recent data available at the time of our review, DeCA's Board of Directors approved a desired average savings rate of 30 percent based on savings calculated for prior years using the methodology. However, GAO found weaknesses in this methodology. For example, the methodology does not use a random sample of overseas commissaries or account for seasonal and geographic variations in item prices. Because of these weaknesses, DOD's methodology can potentially result in an inaccurate calculation of the actual savings rate that commissary patrons experience. DeCA officials stated that the agency plans to revise the savings methodology to address the limitations GAO identified. Because this effort is underway, it is too early to know whether the revisions will address the limitations GAO identified.

Differences exist between certain business processes used at the commissaries and those of commercial grocery stores.

First, DeCA tracks the sale of products at all commissaries but does not assess the contribution of the sale of each product to a given store's total sales in determining which products to sell. According to DeCA officials, because commissaries are focused on providing a benefit rather than on maximizing profits like commercial grocery stores, commissaries do not always adjust products they carry based on customer demand. DeCA officials said that they would like to be more efficient, but have not developed a plan with achievable objectives, goals, and time frames regarding how to improve product management based on sales and customer demand. Without improving the management of products based on sales and customer demand as is done in commercial grocery stores, DeCA may be missing opportunities to increase sales, leverage efficiencies, and achieve savings in commissary operations. Second, DeCA has not conducted cost-benefit analyses for costs associated with (1) the use of stocking and custodial service contracts as compared with the use of in-house staff and (2) product distribution options across all commissaries. For example, DeCA uses services contracts at most commissaries, totaling about $137 million in fiscal year 2015, even though our analysis suggests that using in-house personnel for stocking may be more cost effective. Commercial grocery stores are generally sensitive to the cost of business operations, competition in their market, and the need to generate a profit. In addition, different product distribution options could result in significant savings impacting the price a commissary patron pays for a product. According to DeCA officials, DOD does not require cost-benefit analyses to compare alternative options for service contracts or for the distribution of products to commissaries. However, without conducting such analyses to guide its decision making on these business processes, DeCA is not positioned to determine whether it is using its resources most efficiently.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD operates 238 commissaries worldwide to provide groceries and household goods at reduced prices as a benefit to military personnel, retirees, and their dependents. Since 2010, Congress appropriated an average $1.4 billion annually to help fund commissary operations.

Senate Report 114-49 included a provision for GAO to review aspects of commissary operations. This report (1) determines the extent to which DOD has assurance it is maintaining its desired savings rate for patrons and (2) identifies differences in business practices between commissary operations and commercial grocery store practices. GAO analyzed data on savings, sales, and costs. GAO also reviewed leading practices relevant for commissary operations; assessed the costs for service contracts and product distribution options; and conducted site visits to a nongeneralizable sample of 12 commissaries based on, among other things, location and sales.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making three recommendations, including that DOD address limitations identified in its savings rate methodology; develop a plan with objectives, goals, and time frames to improve efficiency in product management; and conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses for service contracts and distribution options. DOD concurred with GAO's first two recommendations and partially concurred with the third recommendation. GAO continues to believe the cost-benefit analysis recommendation is valid.

For more information, contact Brian J. Lepore at (202) 512-4523 or

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Friday, March 24, 2017

Witness to History: Roger Fenton’s Photographs of the Crimean War

The Library’s documentary and photojournalism collections reflect just how regularly photographers in each generation have taken up the challenge of providing a visual record of noteworthy events and scenes of the everyday.  This is the first in a series of blog posts that consider major photojournalism and documentary photo collections in the Prints and Photographs Division, expanded from an article in the Nov.-Dec. 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine (LCM).
War is one of the newsworthy events that, from the early years of photography onwards, has spurred ambitious documentary enterprises. In early March, 1855, photographer Roger Fenton embarked on just such a venture on the Crimean peninsula, where British, French, and Turkish forces were battling Russian troops. Fenton’s Crimean War photographs represent one of the earliest systematic attempts to document a war through the medium of photography. In less than four months, (March 8 to June 26, 1855), he produced 360 photographs, of which the Library of Congress has 263 salted paper and albumen prints.
The artist's van. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
The artist’s van. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
The photos highlight the leading figures of the allied armies, camp life of the British soldiers, as well as scenes in and around Balaklava, and on the plateau before Sevastopol. The photographs below give a glimpse of the coverage:
Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Burghersh, C.B. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Burghersh, C.B. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
Military camp. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
Military camp. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
Officer of the 57th Regiment sitting with a sword across his lap at opening to his tent, another officer sitting outside the tent, and a servant stands with a horse in the background. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
Members of the 57th Regiment. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
The sanitary commission. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
The sanitary commission. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
What Fenton didn’t capture were any images of combat or its human consequences. Several explanations have been offered to account for why the photographs show little of the dire conditions and other negative aspects of the war, including rampant disease and lack of food and other supplies, that the newspapers had been highlighting for months.Victorian standards of propriety precluded showing dead bodies. And although Fenton used state-of-the art technology, lengthy exposure time prohibited capturing action scenes, and the work was intricate, at best. Flies, dust and extreme heat challenged Fenton’s efforts to keep the glass photographic plates clean and complicated his work with chemicals that reacted differently in high temperatures and dried much faster in the Crimean climate. Fenton also commented on how the quality of the light affected the times of day he could photograph. Moreover, a portion of that time was taken up with troops requesting to have their pictures taken, causing him to “dread the sight of English officers riding up to my van.” But Fenton’s and others’ intentions in carrying out the photographic documentation may have also played a role in shaping the coverage. Fenton was operating with the support of the British government and with the financial backing of a publisher, Thomas Agnew & Sons, that hoped to temper negative press accounts by issuing sets of photographs for sale.
A Research Focus
Fenton’s photographs have stirred interest not simply as documents of war, but as a focus for understanding matters of photographic intent, practice, and meaning. Perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the photographs that has attracted the most lasting attention was the one that hinted most strongly at the dangers of war and its devastating potential. Fenton called the photo “The Valley of the Shadow of Death.”
The valley of the shadow of death. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
The valley of the shadow of death. Photo by Roger Fenton, 1855. //
Two variants of the photo exist: one showing cannonballs on the side of the road, and the other with the cannonballs seemingly strategically and more dramatically scattered across the road (the Library of Congress has only the latter photo, but the two can be seen together in a blog post from the Harry Ransom Center).
An assertion by Susan Sontag, among others, captured the interest of writer and filmmaker Errol Morris. Sontag maintained that Fenton staged the photograph, artfully scattering cannonballs that had formerly been on the edge of the road. Morris wondered if that was really the sequence of events, and he sought to determine which of the two photographs had been taken first. He recounts his conversations with photo historians as well as his own attempt to recreate the photograph, taking into account patterns of light and shadow. His wide-ranging essay, “Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?” is a tour de force in conveying the lengths to which he went in an effort to establish the factual: precisely when, why and how a photograph was made, while also highlighting the philosophical: how we look at and understand photographs.
From two photographs, so much to question, explore and understand! What questions would you ask of the Roger Fenton photographs?
Learn More

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Secret South Korean Nuclear Weapons Program Created Anxiety in Washington in Mid-1970s

Washington, D.C., March 22, 2017 – President Park Chung-hee reportedly instructed South Korean scientists to build nuclear bombs by 1977, according to a secret report to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University.  The Ford administration accumulated other evidence that raised worries about proliferation and regional instability.

President Gerald R. Ford and South Korean “President for Life” Park Chung-hee at the arrival ceremony for Ford in Seoul on 22 November 1974. Before Ford’s visit, U.S. intelligence had been learning about South Korea’s secret nuclear program. (Photo courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Library)

Today’s posting, the first of two on U.S. policy toward South Korea’s atomic weapons program in the mid-1970s, is based on a wide variety of declassified sources, including records released through mandatory declassification review.  They offer an account of the first stages of what became a successful U.S. effort to keep an ally from engaging in destabilizing proliferation activity in one of the world’s enduring trouble spots.

* * * * *

The United States and South Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program, 1974-1976,
Part I

Edited by William Burr

The Gerald Ford administration worried about a nuclear threat emerging in the Korean peninsula in the mid-1970s – not from the North, but the South, where the General Park Chung-hee dictatorship had plans to produce fissile material for supporting a nuclear weapons capability. The Ford administration first received intelligence about South Korean nuclear developments in the fall of 1974. According to a special report prepared for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, published here by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project for the first time, General Park (father of the recently impeached South Korean president) had told Korean journalists that he had directed scientists to build atomic bombs by 1977 and had also informed an industrial conference that he wanted long-range missiles for retaliation against North Korean provocations. U.S. intelligence originally estimated that the Republic of Korea (ROK) could produce a nuclear device by 1980.

Kissinger learned that the ROK was negotiating with France to purchase a chemical separation plant, which could be used to produce plutonium from spent reactor fuel. According to the special report, If the South went ahead with a weapons program, it would “have a deeply unsettling impact on regional stability” and on U.S. nonproliferation strategy. Preventing a South Korean nuclear breakout would require “early cooperation” with allied nuclear suppliers and some use of U.S. “political leverage.” Intelligence reports about a threat to stability eventually led to difficult and contentious, but ultimately successful, negotiations with Seoul, although serious concerns about South Korean nuclear activities would emerge in the future.

Drawing upon a wide range of declassified sources, today’s posting, the first of two, provides key documents about U.S. detection of the South Korean nuclear program and the initial effort to persuade Seoul to cancel its plans for a plutonium reprocessing plant. Highlights of Part I include:

  • A July 1974 telegram from the U.S. embassy in Seoul, possibly the earlier such report, conveying the “visceral feeling” at the embassy, “based only on growing independence of Korean attitude toward defense matters and increasing doubts about [the] durability of U.S. commitments, that most senior ROK defense planners desire to obtain capability eventually to produce nuclear weapons.”
  • A March 1975 State Department message to the U.S. Embassy in Seoul affirming that because a South Korean nuclear capability would have “a destabilizing impact,” the U.S.’s “basic objective is to discourage ROK effort in this area and to inhibit to the fullest possible extent any ROK development of a nuclear explosive capability or a delivery system.”
  • Ambassador to Seoul Richard Sneider’s advice, a few weeks later, that the U.S. government avoid “pussy-footing” and take an “direct, early, and firm” approach against the ROK nuclear program.
  • An 8 September 1975 meeting between Sneider and Acting Foreign Minister Lho Shing-yong, who rejected the U.S. demand to cancel the reprocessing plant. Reviewing the recent history of Korea’s nuclear energy program, Lho declared that the proposed facility was strictly for “study and research purposes” and that even Japan was doing the “same thing” without evening signing the NPT.
  • An October 1975 meeting in which Deputy Secretary of State Robert Ingersoll discussed the reprocessing plant with South Korean Ambassador Hahm. After the latter argued that the plant was too small to produce weapons material, Ingersoll observed that if it operated without interruption for a year it could produce 20 kilograms of plutonium (the equivalent of about 3 “Fat Man” implosion bombs). Hahm conceded that point was “devastating,” and further acknowledged that if Washington was insistent on cancellation it “might be necessary” for Seoul to do so.

Choe Hyung Sup, South Korea’s Minister of Science and Technology, briefing President Park at the construction site for the Daeduk Science Complex in the Taejon area. Denying that South Korea was pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, Choe played a major role in negotiations with Washington that enabled Seoul to back away from the acquisition of reprocessing technology. (Photo courtesy of Yong Sup)

In late 2016 and early 2017, the growing apprehension over North Korea’s nuclear-missile capabilities generated discussion in South Korea and elsewhere over whether Seoul might undertake a nuclear weapons program to better deter threats from the North. Indeed, South Korean sources suggest that it would only take six-to-nine months for Seoul to fashion a testable nuclear device.[1] During the presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald J. Trump startled many by taking a relaxed approach to a possible South Korean or even a Japanese nuclear weapons project. Yet, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has traveled to East Asia to reaffirm traditional security arrangements and U.S. missile defense plans for South Korea are already under way. Complicating matters, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has raised the possibility of a nuclear weapons option for Japan as a response to North Korea’s advancement in nuclear-missile delivery capabilities. Such a development could produce new dangers, including further proliferation in the region, from South Korea to Taiwan. As South Korea was an early signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it would require extraordinary developments, such as the nuclearization of Japan or the collapse of U.S. security commitments, for it to upend the NPT system. To keep the recent developments and concerns in perspective, it is worth looking closely at the events of the mid-1970s when Washington cooperated with its Canadian and French allies to prevent the Park military dictatorship from purchasing sensitive nuclear technology.

South Korean interest in nuclear weapons dates back to the 1950s. Strong anti-nuclear sentiment did not exist in part because of the perception that the A-bomb had had a decisive impact on the defeat of Japan, which had subjected Korea to a decades-long harsh colonial occupation. President Syngman Rhee was personally interested in a South Korean nuclear capability and in the late 1950s supported funding for nuclear energy research with a weapons program as a long-range goal.[2] Student protests toppled the authoritarian Rhee government in April 1960 but after a military junta took power the next month, General Park Chung-hee quickly rose to the top, becoming elected president in 1962, eventually declaring himself “president for life” while suppressing domestic opposition. While pushing forward industrial development, Park maintained a close relationship with Washington, which was cemented by the deployment of South Korean troops to fight in South Vietnam through the course of the war.

U.S. documentation on the Seoul-Washington interactions is relatively abundant, but South Korean records concerning the inside story of Park’s decisions on a nuclear weapons capability may not exist; questions linger over what happened to Park’s papers after his 1979 dinner party assassination. Nevertheless, South Korean researchers have made progress through interviews with former officials; in a recent publication Se Young Jang identified “a major catalyst of Park’s decision:” the Nixon administration’s decision in early 1970 to withdraw a U.S. Army division, amounting to 20,000 troops out of 63,000. Park strongly objected; that along with Washington’s cautious approach toward crises with North Korea (1968 and 1969) made him skeptical about the credibility of U.S. security guarantees. According to Jang, “What mattered to [Park] was that the U.S. government might abandon South Korea if it was necessary for the sake of Washington’s broader strategic interests.” It was in the context of significant apprehension about the long-term reliability of U.S. security guarantees that Park launched his audacious and highly secret 890 Project in the early 1970s. The collapse of South Vietnam in the spring of 1975 heightened concerns in Seoul about U.S. reliability and may well have increased Park’s resolve to pursue the nuclear option.[3]

Park kept his secret for several years, but by the fall of 1974 Seoul’s efforts to buy sensitive nuclear technology enabled U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers to start connecting the dots.[4] In January 1975, the intelligence community produced a (still) classified report that concluded that the Park regime had undertaken a program to produce nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Within weeks, Washington was planning a secret diplomatic campaign to induce Seoul to change course. Whatever Kissinger’s expectations may have been, South Korean officials put up a tough initial resistance to U.S. demands, strongly arguing that their nuclear program was entirely for peaceful purposes and that South Korea was just as entitled as Japan was to operate reprocessing technology.

The Korean issue was diplomatically tricky because when Washington learned about the reprocessing sale nuclear exporters had not agreed to ground rules for the application of IAEA safeguards to sensitive exports. Such rules did not exist until the fall of 1975. The French had reached the agreement with Seoul on the reprocessing facility before the May 1974 Indian nuclear test, but they became increasingly aware of the risks of going forward in the months that followed. Moreover, in light of the publicity over their role in facilitating the Indian test by selling a virtually unsafeguarded reactor years earlier, the Canadians were highly supportive of the U.S. position against the export of reprocessing equipment. Closely coordinated by Kissinger with Canadian and French ambassadors in Washington, the quiet diplomatic offensive against the proposed reprocessing plant was an early test of the emerging consensus among nuclear exporters against the sale of sensitive technologies.

On the flight heading toward Seoul on 22 November 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger speaks with William Henkel, director of the White House Advance Office. Press Secretary Ron Nessen is seated across from them. (Photo courtesy of Gerald R. Ford Library)

One important constraint on the 890 Project was that the Park regime ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in April 1975, partly under Canadian pressure (as a condition for a reactor sale).[5] That effectively committed the ROK to peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to compliance with international safeguards. It is possible that Park and his subordinates expected to develop a weapons capability sub rosa by taking steps toward building a bomb, such as producing fissionable materials and testing conventional implosion technology. That is now called “nuclear latency,” but U.S. officials had once characterized it as “nuclear pregnancy,”[6] It would have been difficult for South Korea to produce plutonium without IAEA inspectors noticing it, but perhaps Park thought that he could bluff his way through. Any final steps toward weaponization, however, would have required the renunciation of the NPT, which in itself would have produced a U.S.-Korean and broader regional crisis.

This collection draws on a number of sources:

  • Declassified telegrams on-line at the National Archives “Access to Archival Databases” (AAD)
  • Formerly classified telegrams that are listed on the AAD that were declassified through requests to NARA or the Department of State (in the latter case, when the microfilmed copies are in P-reels held by the Department)
  • declassified collection of paper copies of “Nodis” [No Distribution”] telegrams for 1975, opened up at NARA at the request of the National Security Archive,
  • other State Department collections at the National Archives
  • documents from Digital National Security Archive collections, Korea, 1969-2000, and Korea II, 1969-2010, edited by Robert Wampler
  • an important document (Number 6) from the Web Site of the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project.

Many of the most important documents on the U.S.-South Korean nuclear controversy have been declassified, but records of some important U.S.-ROK meetings remain partly or entirely closed, although they are under declassification review. This includes some key discussions with Korean and French diplomats during December 1975 and January 1975, as well as the record of a meeting between Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger and President Park in August 1975, for which the discussion of nuclear issues remains partly classified. The intelligence community’s January 1975 report about the ROK nuclear program is entirely classified.  The CIA has denied a National Security Archive request for the latter and it is still under appeal at the Agency.

Part II of this collection will document the final stages of the U.S.-South Korean controversy over nuclear reprocessing, demonstrating how Seoul climbed down from its determination to uphold the reprocessing contract and pursued interest in nuclear research through a program of cooperation with Washington.  


1. Early Suspicions

Document 1: U.S. Embassy in Republic of Korea telegram 4957 to Department of State, “Korean Accession to NPT,” 30 July 1974, Confidential 

Source: Record Group 59, Department of State Records [RG 59), Access to Archival Databases [AAD]

Conversations with South Korean diplomats and a newspaper editorial, among other sources, led outgoing Ambassador Philip Habib to report a “visceral feeling” at the embassy, “based only on growing independence of Korean attitude toward defense matters and increasing doubts about [the] durability of U.S. commitments, that most senior ROK defense planners desire to obtain capability eventually to produce nuclear weapons.” One of the sources was an official at the Foreign Ministry’s Treaties Office, who disclosed that the Korean CIA and the Ministry of National Defense opposed ratification of the NPT.

The conversations cited by Habib and his “visceral feeling” may have helped trigger, or reinforce, an investigation by the Embassy’s CIA station, spearheaded by junior officer Richard P. Lawless, who later discovered that the Blue House (the presidential mansion) lodged an office for the secret weapons project [More information on Lawless will be published in Part II of this posting]. [7]

Document 2: U.S. Mission to IAEA, Vienna, telegram 7090 to Department of State, “Korean Accession to the NPT,” 13 August 1974, Confidential

Source: RG 59, AAD

Commenting on the Seoul Embassy’s report, staffers at the U.S. Mission to the IAEA shared the concern about South Korea’s nuclear weapons interests. Not only was Seoul seeking to move into nuclear power production in a “big way,” South Korean experts were exploring reprocessing technologies available in Western Europe “with a view to considering construction of a plant in Korea.” The mission recommended that any U.S. government review of the problem of nuclear proliferation should “address the problem of ROK-type fence straddlers” and carry out the program of “active diplomacy” that Secretary Kissinger had recently discussed.

Document 3: U.S. Embassy in Republic of Korea telegram 7328 to Department of State, “Canadian Nuclear Reactor Program in Korea,” 4 November 1974, Secret

Source: RG 59, AAD

Canada’s ambassador to the ROK J.A. [James Alexander] Stiles shared information with his U.S. counterpart, Richard Sneider, on the ongoing Canadian-Korean negotiations for the sale of two nuclear reactors, CANDU 3 and 4, for generating electrical power. Stiles observed that the Koreas were “anxious” to purchase a research reactor, but the Canadians were “reluctant” to do so because that could raise the risk of a “diversion” of plutonium for military purposes. In his comments to the State Department, Sneider suggested that Washington could use its influence to ensure that Ottawa did not sell a research reactor. Meanwhile, the U.S. embassy was preparing an overall assessment of the ROK nuclear program.

Document 4: Winston Lord, director, Policy Planning Staff, and Martin Packman, deputy director, Office of Intelligence and Research, “Second Alert Report,” 20 November 1974, Secret, enclosing “Alert Report for the Secretary.”

Source: RG 59, Records of the Policy Planning Staff, Director's Files (Winston Lord), 1969-1977, box 348, November 1974 

While Kissinger was traveling with President Ford for meetings in Japan, South Korea, and finally the Vladivostok Summit with Soviet leaders, one of his chief aides, Winston Lord co-signed an “alert report” on South Korea’s secret nuclear weapons program. It is likely that during the days or weeks before the CIA station had reached its conclusion that the Park regime had initiated a secret nuclear program, although the chronology of events is uncertain. Whether this was the first report on the topic that Kissinger had seen is unclear; Ford and Kissinger met with President Park during 22-23 November and it possible that the CIA had already included items about South Korean nuclear activities in the President’s Daily Brief (if it did, the information was not included in the recent CIA release of PDBs).

The report’s authors intended it as a model for an alert report system to flag issues that could become more pressing in six to nine months. According to the report on South Korea, General Park Chung-hee told Korean journalists that he had directed scientists to build atomic bombs by 1977; he had also informed an industrial conference that he wanted long-range missiles for retaliation against North Korean provocations. U.S. intelligence had collected information that ROK was negotiating with the French to purchase a chemical separation plant for producing plutonium from spent reactor fuel.

If South Korea violated international safeguards, it could produce nuclear weapons by 1980, an outcome that would “have a deeply unsettling impact on regional stability” and on U.S. nonproliferation strategy generally. Preventing a South Korean nuclear breakout would require “early cooperation” with allied nuclear suppliers and some use of U.S. “political leverage.”

Document 5: U.S. Embassy Paris telegram 28641 to Department of State, “French Views on Coordination of Nuclear Export Policy,” 29 November 1974, Secret 

Source: RG 59, AAD

During the fall and winter of 1974-1975, State Department and other U.S. government officials held talks with the Soviets, French, British, Canadians, West Germans, and the Japanese on the possibility of a conference of nuclear exporters to regulate exports of sensitive nuclear technology to non-nuclear weapons states. Initially, the French were reluctant to accept U.S. concepts for what became the Nuclear Suppliers Group, but the talks were friendly and a compromise was eventually reached. On the South Korean situation, an important moment occurred when French diplomat Xavier de Nazelle told ACDA director Fred IklĂ© that they were negotiating the sale of reprocessing plants to Pakistan and the ROK. That was the “first confirmation that the [U.S.] Embassy has received of these deals.” According to another Foreign Ministry official, the talks with Seoul were in an early stage; IAEA safeguards would be required, but they would only cover the reprocessing plant.

Document 6: U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 8023 to Department of State, “ROK Plans to Develop Nuclear Weapons and Missiles,” 2 December 1974, Secret, excised copy attached to W. R. Smyser and David Elliott to Secretary Kissinger, “Development of U.S. Policy Toward South Korean Development of Nuclear Weapons,” 28 February 1975, Secret

Source: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, National Security Adviser Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 9, Korea (4), copy from South Korean Nuclear History Collection, Nuclear Proliferation International History Project.

As it had promised, the U.S. embassy in Seoul assembled the sensitive information that it had collected and sent it in a highly classified “NODIS” telegram to the State Department. Apparently State Department officials saw this message as so sensitive that either they did not log it in, or they removed it from, the telegram databases that eventually became available on the National Archives Web site. According to the embassy, the evidence supported the “strong presumption that the Korean government had decided to proceed with the initial phases of a nuclear weapons development program.” Most of the details are excised from this release, even the fact that Seoul had been negotiating with Paris to purchase a reprocessing facility. At the National Security Archive’s request, this document is undergoing a new declassification review.

Document 7: Director of Central Intelligence, National Intelligence Officers, “Status of Work in Progress,” 10 January 1975, Secret, Excised copy, Extract

Source: CIA Research Tool (CREST), National Archives, now on-line at CIA Web Site.

To assess the intelligence on the South Korean nuclear program, the U.S. Intelligence Board commissioned an interagency study on “Potential for South Korean Nuclear Development.” The report, dated 24 January 1975, remains classified, but its conclusion, that South Korea could have a nuclear weapons capability and missile delivery systems within ten years, is cited in the next document. The editors of the State Department’s Foreign Relations of the United States series tried to include the report’s conclusions in the volume on Documents on East and Southeast Asia, 1973-1976., but the CIA would not declassify it for that purpose. The report is currently under mandatory declassification review appeal at the CIA.

Document 8: U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 1239 to Department of State, “Non-proliferation Treaty,” 26 February 1975, Confidential

Source: RG 59, AAD, mandatory declassification review (MDR) release by NARA

Ambassador Richard Sneider continued to press the South Korean government to ratify the NPT. South Korean officials were more responsive than during the summer, while a Canadian diplomat had informed the embassy that President Park had made a decision to ratify, with official cabinet approval planned for April. According to the Canadians, Park had made the decision “largely because of Canadian pressure in connection with the CANDU reactor sale.”

2. Phase One: Identifying the Problem and Shaping a Strategy

Document 9: State Department telegram 048673 to U.S. Embassy Seoul, “ROK Plans to Develop Nuclear Weapons and Missiles,” 4 March 1975, Secret

Source: RG 58, AAD: MDR release by State Department from P-reels

Given the sensitivity and import of the Korean nuclear problem, the State Department coordinated a message to the Embassy with officials at various offices, including Deputy National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and the CIA’s John M. Brasted (an intelligence veteran since 1945). The State Department informed the Embassy in Seoul that it shared its concerns about the ROK’s nuclear ambitions and that an interagency intelligence study had concluded that South Korea could have nuclear weapons and a missile delivery capability within 10 years. Because such a capability would have such a destabilizing impact in the region, “our basic objective is to discourage ROK effort in this area and to inhibit to the fullest possible extent any ROK development of a nuclear explosive capability or a delivery system.” To do so, the U.S. would work to prevent the delivery of sensitive technology to the ROK through unilateral and ongoing multilateral efforts with other nuclear suppliers. In this connection, the sale of CANDU reactors to the ROK was a problem because they “present fewer obstacles for diversion of plutonium bearing fuel rods than do the more common light water reactors.” Moreover, Washington would encourage the ROK to ratify the NPT (which it did the following month) and find ways to enhance its surveillance of ROK’s nuclear energy activities.

Document 10: U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 1637 to Department of State, “ROK Plans to Develop Nuclear Weapons and Missiles,” 12 March 1975, Secret, excised copy 

Source: Source: RG 59, AAD, MDR release by State Department from P-reels

Ambassador Sneider agreed with the Department’s basic approach except that he believed that an even more “explicit” course of action would be necessary. Given the ROK’s determination to reach its nuclear goals and the “depth” of U.S. concerns, Sneider advised against “pussy-footing” and recommended a “direct, early, and firm” approach. Ambassador Sneider agreed with the Department’s basic approach except that he believed that an even more “explicit” course of action would be necessary. Given the ROK’s determination to reach its nuclear goals and the “depth” of U.S. concerns, Sneider advised against “pussy-footing” and recommended a “direct, early, and firm” approach.

Document 11: State Department telegram 0135879 to U.S. Embassy Seoul, “Korean Reprocessing,” 11 June 1975, Secret

Source: RG 59, AAD

The Department informed the Embassy that it was handling the reprocessing issue in two phases: the first was “nailing down the rights in our agreements.” Once Washington had spoken with the Canadians and the French, it could make known its “substantive concerns” about the reprocessing deal.

Document 12: U.S. Embassy London telegram 09224 to State Department, “Nuclear Export Policy: Bilateral with Canada,” 17 June 1975, Secret

Source: RG 59, AAD, MDR release by NARA 

During a meeting of nuclear suppliers in London, where ground rules for export policy were under consideration, Canadian diplomats discussed sensitive cases, including the South Korean, where they “shared U.S. concern.” As part of their negotiations with the ROK over the CANDU reactor sale, the Canadians said they “were insisting on incorporating ‘mutual consent’ provision regarding reprocessing” in connection with the nuclear fuel used in the reactor.

Document 13: U.S. Embassy London telegram 09295 to State Department, “Nuclear Export Policy: Bilateral with France,” 18 June 1975, Secret

Source: RG 59, AAD, MDR release by NARA 

The French made no objections to the U.S. approach. During the course of talks to establish the Nuclear Suppliers Group, State Department officials informed the French that they would try to discourage the ROK from acquiring a reprocessing capability. In reply, Bertrand Goldschmidt, France’s representative to the IAEA’s Board of Governors, observed that “there wasn’t much money in reprocessing sales and that France would not object to Korean cancellation of the deal if St. Gobain was reimbursed for termination costs.”

Document 14: U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 4902 to Department of State, “Canadian/ROK Talks on Nuclear Energy,” 3 July 1975, Confidential

Source: RG 59, AAD

During talks with Canada’s Minister of External Affairs Alan MacEachen, President Park denied that the ROK sought nuclear weapons. Apparently during an earlier conversation with Trade Minister Alistair Gillespie, Park had linked the possible withdrawal of the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” to a need for nuclear weapons.

Document 15: U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 5016 to Department of State, “Canadian/ROK Talks on Nuclear Energy,” 8 July 1975, Secret 

Source: RG 59, AAD

Washington did not need to ask Ottawa to raise questions about the reprocessing deal because the Canadian parliament was already putting pressure on Canadian diplomats to do so. When Canadian Ambassador Stiles asked a senior Korean official for an explanation of the reprocessing deal he was told that it would process spent fuel from U.S.-supplied reactors. Sneider informed Stiles that Washington had not agreed to any such arrangement. With no response from Seoul to the U.S. query about reprocessing under the U.S.-ROK nuclear agreement, and with the Canadians in the “front running,” Sneider saw an opportunity to “press” the ROK to cancel the contract with the French.

Document 16: John Marcum to Brent Scowcroft, 24 July 1975, enclosing Jan M. Lodal and David Elliott memorandum to Secretary Kissinger, “Approach to South Korea on Reprocessing,” 24 July 1975, Secret, Excised copy

Source: National Security Archive, Don Oberdorfer Papers, box 2, South Korean Nuclear Weapons Program, original at Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

Earlier in July, State Department officials sent Kissinger an action memorandum (see attachment to document 17) that received no traction at the White House level; NSC staffers Lodal and Elliott perceived it as a “lengthy advocacy memorandum” that did not “deal with the basic problem of the ROK's perceived need for long term nuclear guarantees and our inability to provide them” or the “problem of French involvement and consistency with our non-proliferation policy.” As Lodal and Elliott noted, those were difficult problems; for example, even if Washington stopped the reprocessing deal, “the basic incentives for ROK nuclear weapons development will remain.” Moreover, Nuclear Supplier Group politics presented complex issues: the French and the West Germans were pushing for less stringent controls over reprocessing exports “than we would impose on South Korea.”

Lodal and Elliott, however, made no recommendation and instead provided Kissinger with two options, for which they identified pros and cons: bilateral pressure to cancel the reprocessing contract or relying on Seoul’s NPT commitments and IAEA safeguards.

Document 17: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Philip Habib, Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs George Vest, and Policy Planning Staff Director Winston Lord through the Deputy Secretary of State (Ingersoll) to the Secretary of State, “Approach to South Korean on Reprocessing,” circa 4 August 1975, Secret

Source: RG 59, Records of Policy Planning Staff, Directors Files 1969-1977 (Winston Lord), box 368, WL Sensitive Non-China ‘75

Kissinger had not made up his mind whether to oppose the French-Korean deal and top State Department officials wondered whether he “may have felt that our proposed approach [in the early July memorandum] entailed applying undue pressure on an already uncertain ally.” They did not believe that because “the resolution of the nuclear issue involved is a key factor in ensuring both the stability of the region and our relationship with the ROK.” To make the point even clearer they revised the proposed instructions to Ambassador Sneider in which he would “convey our serious concerns about Korea’s moving in [the] direction” of establishing an independent reprocessing capability.

State Department officials saw a “good possibility that the ROK can be influenced to abandon its present plans for a national reprocessing capability.” For example, key allies with Korean interests were cooperative: the French would have no problem with cancellation as long as they received “a reasonable financial compensation” and the Canadians “have broached their reprocessing concerns” and “strongly support a parallel US approach.” Moreover, Washington was in the process of nailing down its interpretation of the nuclear cooperation agreement with Seoul: that the United States had a “veto over reprocessing of spent fuel from U.S. reactors supplied to Korea.” Within a few weeks, Seoul had accepted the U.S. interpretation, which would have the effect of limiting the supply of spent fuel available for producing plutonium.

3. Phase Two: Diplomatic Pressure

Document 18: State Department telegram 195214 to U.S. Embassy Seoul, “ROK Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plans,” 16 August 1975, Secret, Excised copy

Source: Digital National Security Archive

Kissinger signed off on the State Department recommendation (Document 16); facilitating the decision was that the French and the Canadians accepted U.S. thinking about the necessity to cancel the reprocessing deal, the U.S. Congress was treating cancellation as a condition for Export-Import banks loans to finance reactor sales to the ROK, and Seoul was in agreement with the U.S. interpretation of the nuclear cooperation agreement. Accordingly, the State Department advised the embassy that it was “timely to execute [the] second phase of [the] approach.” The ambassador was to convey “serious concern” about South Korea’s plans to develop a reprocessing facility. Even a pilot plant could have “destabilizing” implications for the region. Noting that it was “expensive, complicated, and risky” to build a national plant, the U.S. government was willing to support talks for a multinational reprocessing facility if other countries in the region, such as Japan, agreed that it was commercially necessary. Sneider could also warn the ROK that Congress would reject Eximbank loans to underwrite nuclear reactors for the ROK should the latter go ahead with it reprocessing plans.

Document 19: U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 6495 to Department of State, “ROK Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plans,” 23 August 1975, Secret

Source: Digital National Security Archive

Meeting with Minister of Science and Technology Choe Hyung Sup, Ambassador Sneider explained that, in the interests of continued U.S.-Korean nuclear cooperation, Washington wanted Seoul to cancel its plans to acquire a reprocessing plant. Choe “expressed surprise” at the request and told Sneider that Seoul was interested in the plant as a “learning tool,” not for its production capabilities. The minister promised to provide information on the French plant. Several days later, Sneider delivered the same message to the acting foreign minister, No Sin-yong.

Document 20: U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 6608 to Department of State, “ROK Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plans,” 26 August 1975, Secret

Source: Digital National Security Archive

Showing “some resentment,” top officials from the Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute explained why they sought reprocessing technology: to help provide training in fuel element fabrication for ROK nuclear scientists. The reprocessing laboratory was a “training facility, not a production or pilot plant.” They are “not willing to accept anything less than a laboratory of kind purchased from France.” Having been trained in the United States, Korean nuclear scientists spoke English, not French, and preferred a “close relationship” with the U.S. so they could provide assurances that they were not “cheating.” Further, they questioned “whether the U.S. can impose a policy on Korea which forbids Korea entry into a legitimate business aspect of nuclear power.”

Document 21: State Department telegram 213134 to U.S. Embassy London, 8 September 1975, Secret, forwarding U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 6989 to Department of State, “Nuclear Reprocessing Plant,” 8 September 1975, Secret, Excised copy

Source: RG 59, AAD, MDR release by NARA

Meeting with Ambassador Sneider, Acting Foreign Minister Lho Shing-yong rejected the U.S. demand. Reviewing the recent history of Korea’s nuclear energy program, outlined in a subsequent embassy message, Lho argued that Washington had “failed to respond” to queries by the ROK about reprocessing. He also declared that the proposed facility was strictly for “study and research purposes” and that even Japan was doing the “same thing” even though it had not yet signed the NPT. Cancelling the contract was “impossible” if Seoul was to “maintain credibility” with France. Sneider replied that the ROK was “now jeopardizing” the U.S. loan for the Kori II reactor and “possible future support for Korean nuclear energy program.”

Document 22: U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 74642 to Department of State, “ROK Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plant,” 30 September 1975, Secret

 Source: RG 59, AAD

In this long message, Sneider reviewed recent meetings with senior Korean officials who had taken an “unequivocally negative” response to the U.S. proposal. Sneider tried to make the case that U.S. objections were non-discriminatory and that Washington had offered “constructive carrots” for future cooperation, but he made no headway. For example, given that the Japanese were buying a much larger reprocessing plant from the French, they wondered why Washington was “singling out” Korea. Choe Hyung Sop argued that U.S. push for cancellation meant that Washington did not “trust” ROK. Sneider concluded that trust was a “critical issue” and that the “differential treatment” between Korea and Japan “clearly sticks in Korea’s craw.” Washington might need to “exert maximum leverage … in [a] direct confrontation with President Park.”

Document 23: State Department telegram 238186 to U.S. Embassy Seoul, “Washington Visit of MOST Atomic Energy Bureau,” 6 October 1975, Secret

Source: RG 59, AAD

While the Ford administration was considering the next step, Lee Young White, a senior official at the Ministry of Science and Technology was in Washington. While restating the ROK case for the reprocessing plant, Lee mentioned that Seoul had been in touch with the Japanese about the possibility of a regional reprocessing facility, but that Tokyo’s interest had “cooled” when a new minister of science had come into office. When speaking with Lee, the acting assistant secretary of state for oceans, environment, and science (OES), Myron Kratzer, emphasized the U.S.’s general concern about the spread of national reprocessing facilities as well as particular concerns about the Korean project. When Lee asserted that the reprocessing facility would have IAEA safeguards and would be “open to U.S. inspectors,” Kratzer declared that the basic U.S. concern was not the efficacy of safeguards but a “plutonium facility physically present” in South Korea.

4. Strengthened Pressure and Korean Defiance

Document 24: State Department telegram 240692 to U.S. Embassy Seoul, “Deputy Secretary Ingersoll’s Meeting with Ambassador Hahm of Korea,” 9 October 1975, Secret

Source: RG 59, AAD 

As Seoul had not made a final response to U.S. demands, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Ingersoll tried to “reinforce” the U.S. position during a meeting with Ambassador Hahm Pyong Choon Both sides made familiar arguments, with U.S. officials arguing against the Korean reprocessing plant on economic and technical grounds; they further noted, contrary to Hahm’s assertion that the plant was too small to produce weapons material, that if it operated without interruption for a year it could produce 20 kilograms of plutonium (the equivalent of about 3 “Fat Man” implosion bombs). To Hahm’s argument that the reprocessing plant could be brought into a multinational scheme at the beginning, State Department officials responded that studies for a multinational plant should be made without prejudice to location and that a small plant could produce no useful knowledge for the necessary regional studies. When Hahm argued that U.S. policy discriminated in favor of Japan because it had made no objection to Japanese reprocessing plans, State Department officials countered that Japan had made its plans years earlier when studies of the potential for reprocessing were more optimistic, that Japan had a much bigger nuclear program, and that locating a reprocessing plant in the Korean peninsula was strategically very different. 

During the conversation, Hahm conceded that the point about plutonium production was “devastating,” and further acknowledged that if Washington was insistent on cancellation that it “might be necessary” for Seoul to do so.

Document 25: U.S. Embassy Seoul telegram 8278 to Department of State, “ROKG Rejects Our Representations on Nuclear Reprocessing,” 24 October 1975, Secret

Source: RG 59, AAD

Reprising the role that he played on 8 September, Acting Foreign Minister Lho Shing-yong informed Sneider that his government “had decided that it would be impossible to cancel [the] French contract at this stage.” After Lho made his points about Japan, “study purposes only,” and undue U.S. suspicion, Sneider expressed deep disappointment. As for the comparison with Japan, Sneider pointed to the “real differences:” Japan “was not on the DMZ,” while with Korea Washington had to take into account Chinese, Soviet, and North Korean reactions. Lho believed that Washington would “find a way” to work with the ROK in nuclear energy, but Sneider had “serious doubts.”

5. “Renewed Urgency”

Document 26: Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Philip Habib and Policy Planning Staff director Winston Lord through the Deputy Secretary of State (Ingersoll) to the Secretary of State, “Korean Reprocessing – the Next Step,” with attached study, “Korean Reprocessing: Issues and Options,” 18 November 1975, Secret

Source: RG 59, Records of Policy Planning Staff, Directors Files 1969-1977 (Winston Lord), box 369, Nov 16-30, 1975

Worried that Seoul would move forward with Paris in carrying out the reprocessing contract and even purchase reactors from France, Kissinger’s advisers saw “renewed urgency” in trying to solve the problem. They saw several basic options, including a moratorium on accepting the plant under “special constraints,” but the option the State Department bureaus favored was strengthened opposition accompanied by seeking help from Canada and France. The Canadians would be asked to “take a complementary approach” in trying to dissuade Seoul from going ahead with the contract while Washington requested Paris to avoid “early implementation” of the contract. Seeing an “element of bluff” in the ROK position, Habib and Lord favored maintaining “our pressure in order to force the Koreans to fully face up to the risks of their present course of action.”

If opposition failed, a moratorium was available as a fall-back: it would be a “face-saving way” for Park to “back down, while buying us time to engage the ROKG in a dialogue on its future nuclear energy needs.” The report included two moratorium options, but if all else failed, the “minimum results” would be “deferring or constraining” a reprocessing facility through inspections and safeguards.

Document 27: State Department telegram 280819 to U.S. Embassy Tokyo and U.S. Embassy Seoul, “Japanese Embassy Approach on ROK Nuclear Reprocessing Facility,” 27 November 1975

Source: RG 59, AAD, MDR release by NARA 

With U.S. concern about the French deal reaching the press, the Government of Japan became aware of the Seoul-Washington talks and approached the State Department for background. For a briefing, political counselor Mitsuro Donowaki met with James Goodby, deputy director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs. While Goodby avoided some sensitive details, including the Canadian role in the matter, he conveyed the basic U.S. concern about the reprocessing deal: the pilot plant’s capacity to produce enough plutonium that it “could be …. significant for weapons purposes.” He further noted that Japan “should be aware” that South Korea was “very conscious” of Japan’s reprocessing facility and believed that Washington was discriminating against Seoul its treatment of the French-Korea deal. That aspect, Goodby observed, “highlights our mutual interest with Japan in supporting a multinational regional alternative.”

Apparently taken aback by the briefing, Donowaki “said if there was real possibility of ROK developing nuclear weapons this would pose serious problem for Japan.” He asked how long the negotiations would take, but Goodby could only say, correctly, that the talks were continuing. He emphasized that Seoul’s interest in a “national reprocessing plant points up need for serious discussions between US and Japan” on that subject.

Document 28: State Department telegram 283167 to U.S. Delegation, “Korean Reprocessing,” 2 December 1975, Secret

Source: RG 59, Nodis Telegrams 1975, box 6

On 2 December, while traveling with President Ford in China, Kissinger decided in favor of “strengthened opposition” through an initial approach to the Prime Minister and “if necessary” President Park. Kissinger wanted to see how that developed before making decisions on a moratorium option.

*Thanks to Robert Wampler and Gregory Graves for their helpful suggestions.


[1]. Robert Einhorn and Duyeon Kim, “Will South Korea Go Nuclear,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; Lee Byong-Chul, “Preventing a Nuclear South Korea,” 38 North. For a different perspective, see James Van Der Velde, “Go Ahead. Let Japan and South Korea Go Nuclear,” The National Interest. For six to nine months, see Lee Young-Wan, “6 Months to Produce Fissile Materials, 6-9 Months to Develop a Detonation Device ... South Korea Could Arm Itself With a Nuclear Weapon in 1.5 Years,” The Chosun Ilbo (19 February 2016), [Korean]; English translation by Raymond Ha, Nonproliferation Education Policy Center, information courtesy of Gregory Graves. For an estimate of 18 months see Matthew McKinzie, “East Asian Nuclearization: Is Trump Wrong?” Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (4 May, 2016)

[2]. Don-Won Kim, “Imaginary Savior: The Image of the Nuclear Bomb in Korea, 1945-1960,”
Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan 19 (2009): 105-118.

[3], Se Young Jan, “The Evolution of US Extended Deterrence and South Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions,” Journal of Strategic Studies 39 (2016): 502-520. See also Lyong Choi, “The First Nuclear Crisis in the Korean Peninsula, 1975–76,” Cold War History 14 (2014): 71-90, which traces Park’s decision to his uncertainty about U.S. guarantees after the April 1975 collapse of South Vietnam. For the context of South Korean nuclear decision-making, see Kim Seong-Jun, “Technology Transfer behind a Diplomatic Struggle: Reappraisal of South Korea's Nuclear Fuel Project in the 1970s,” Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan 19 (2009): 184-193. An essay by Gregory Graves (George Washington University), "Park's Play: International Diplomacy and South Korea's Attempt to 'Go Nuclear,'" Journal of American East Asian Relations (forthcoming), is an important contribution to knowledge of this episode.

[4]. For a useful early account, see Don Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History Revised and Updated (New York: Basic Books, 2001), 68-72.

[5]. Choi, “The First Nuclear Crisis in the Korean Peninsula, 1975–76,” 21.

* * *

Naval Search Engine

Total Pageviews

Find-A-Grave Link

Search 62.2 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search: