When North Korean forces seized an American intelligence ship, the USS Pueblo, in international waters on 23 January 1968, U.S. officials assumed that the attack had been orchestrated in conjunction with the Soviet Union, Communist China, or both. Based on this assumption, the Johnson administration contacted Soviet leaders and asked them to resolve the matter. But it turned out that Moscow could do little. Newly available documentation shows that North Korea was acting independently in 1968 and did not even inform Soviet or Chinese leaders in advance of the capture of the ship. The U.S. government's failure to recognize that North Korea had been acting on its own meant that a good deal of time was squandered on efforts to prod the Soviet authorities to intervene. The resolution of the prolonged crisis, in December 1968, was feasible only because the Johnson administration managed to accommodate North Korea's rather bizarre demands without yielding on the substance of the matter.

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