301 Chifley to Evatt

Cablegram A35 CANBERRA, 11 June 1946


1. Reference your United Nations No.171 and Atomic No.6 [1], I am furnishing my provisional personal observations on your cablegram.

It has only been possible to consult the Defence Committee so far, and I shall submit your cablegram and my observations to Cabinet at its meeting on Friday, 14th June, and advise you of the views of Ministers. The following qualifications are made in regard to my observations:-

(i) We have not received information of the results of the meeting in London on Atomic Energy [2] which was held after I left. A copy of the proceedings is in transit.

(ii) In view of the urgency of the matter owing to the early meeting of the Atomic Energy Commission, the observations have been furnished without awaiting the receipt of the documents referred to in your cablegram.

2. The following are my observations on your cablegram:-

(i) The first one relates to procedure. The United States is at present in a monopoly position in regard to atomic energy and, if the Lilienthal Report is being adopted by it, this would indicate a broad and cooperative approach to the problem. It is assumed that you have knowledge that this will be their attitude, and have framed your observations on this understanding. I think it is important that the United States should state their proposals first on this matter to the Atomic Commission, in view of the great responsibilities they carry in the shape of information on the subject and a willingness or otherwise to share it.

(ii) The following observations are made on the recommendations referred to in paragraph 4 of your cablegram:-

(a) It is noted that the vesting in the United Nations of all rights in raw materials, processes, plants, and the products of plants, for the exploitation of all forms of atomic energy, is in accordance with the Lilienthal Report which, as stated, also provides for a system of inspection. In view of the contention that the primary objective of the discovery should be human welfare, the Lilienthal Report places great emphasis on the non- dangerous activities being left to nations or private agencies under the general control and supervision of the United Nations authority. It might be as well to refer to this aspect also.

In regard to 'prompt' action for vesting these matters in the United Nations, this is linked with the disclosure of information referred to later in (b).

(b) This recommendation provides for the disclosure of all information without any reference to stages or the organisation of international safeguards.

It will be noted that the statement of Mr. Attlee and President Truman referred to the relation between disclosure of information and the establishment of enforceable safeguards against its use for destructive purposes. [3] The resolution of the General Assembly also referred to the work proceeding by separate stages with the development of the necessary confidence of the world. [4]

The Lilienthal Report indicates that the proposed plan will take some time to put into operation:-

'The transfer of such facilities to international control; the establishment under international control of similar facilities in other nations; the creation of stockpiles; the gradual building up of groups of men skilled in the various necessary artsthese are changes which from their very nature will require time to bring about, and which can, within not too wide limits, be scheduled and controlled.'

A basic factor is the geographical location of plants so that a strategic balance may be maintained among nations. In this way, protection would be afforded against such eventualities as the failure of the United Nations control, or the seizure by any one State of material and plant in its territory.

In regard to the use of the knowledge for the production of atomic weapons, the report states that, if such knowledge were available to a rival undertaking, it would shorten the time needed for the solution of the practical problems of making atomic weapons Finally, the report states that:-

'In accepting the plan here recommended for international control, the United States will be committed to making available this information at the time, and in the full measure required by the operating necessities. Once the sequence and timing of stages has been fixed by negotiation and agreement between the nations, a minimum rate of disclosure of information will have been fixed by the agreement as well.'

It would appear, therefore, that the release of information has to be based on a plan which will provide the safeguards of control and be the basis of agreement among nations.

(c) This recommendation is concurred in.

(d) This recommendation is concurred in. It is related to the observations on (a) relative to non-dangerous activities connected with the use of atomic energy. [5]

1 Document 284.

2 The 18th Prime Ministers' meeting held on 22 May.

3 See Volume VIII, Document 393.

4 Document 14.

5 On 14 June Cabinet endorsed the above which was contained in a memorandum submitted by Chifley.

[AA:A1838 T184, 720/1, i]