Date of Award

Spring 1986

Document Type



Political Science & International Relations

First Advisor

Robert Swartout

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Baker

Third Advisor

Rodney Frey


On 23 January 1968, the U.S.S. Pueblo, a United States Navy intelligence collection ship operating off the eastern shore of Wonsan, North Korea, was challenged, fired upon, and subsequently seized by a flotilla of North Korean naval ships. The Pueblo—with its crew bound, blindfolded, and guarded at gun point—was towed to Wonsan Harbor. The ship's crew, numbering eighty-three men, was detained in North Korea for eleven months until a diplomatic solution resolving the crisis was reached between the governments of the United States and North Korea. This thesis will examine the Pueblo incident within the context of an international setting. It is, to my knowledge, the first time a comprehensive, scholarly approach has been used to examine the affair. To be sure, there are books, articles, reports, and congressional hearings that deal with the crisis, but each is limited in its usefulness. Hopefully, this thesis will be thorough without being redundant. The subject matter is interesting and pertinent. The Pueblo incident is a good case study for examining the complexities often found in international relations. The thesis is arranged into five chapters. The first chapter introduces the subject of intelligence. Here, ve shall learn what intelligence is. We will also examine the philosophy of intelligence and study the process through which intelligence is collected, produced, and then disseminated. The chapter ends with a brief look at the major members of the United States intelligence community. Chapter Two focuses specifically on the Pueblo. Since the Pueblo was a non-combatant surface surveillance platform, the chapter introduces the Pueblo by way of a brief history of the Auxiliary General Technical Research (AGTR) program and the Auxiliary General Environmental Research (AGER) program. We will then focus upon the operations of the U.S.S. Banner in order to gain some knowledge concerning AGER operations in Asia. Finally, turning to the Pueblo, the chapter explores, first, the mission of the Pueblo and, second, some intelligence failures associated with the patrol. Chapter Three focuses on North Korea. A general description of the Pueblo* s capture is presented, followed by an analysis of Pyongyang's propaganda campaign. Then we take up the question of motives. What was the motive behind the North Korean action? This chapter attempts to shed some light on that question. The fourth chapter looks to America. Because North Korea caused the crisis by its seizure of the vessel, the United States was placed in the position of being defensive. It could only react. The chapter examines the manner in which the United States reacted; it also analyzes the factors that served to delineate what the United States response would be. As we all know, events and crises do not occur in a vacuum. The Pueblo affair became much more than just a confrontation between the United States and North Korea. Chapter Five acknowledges this fact. It examines the impact of the affair upon the countries in Northeast Asia namely, the U.S.S.R., the People's Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea. The concluding chapter offers an overall evaluation of the affair. Here we look at both the long and short-term ramifications of the crisis. As we shall see Pyongyang's seizure of the vessel was not entirely beneficial to North Korea nor was the loss exceptionally detrimental to the United States. The crisis was much more complex than simplistic notions might lead U3 to believe. It was truly an international affair.