225 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram UN730 NEW YORK, 18 November 1946, 11.01 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE SECRET

Assembly 185.

VETO.

Having regard to the instructions in paragraph 1 of your UNY.1028 [1] we attempted to assess prospects of success. Canada, New Zealand, Belgium and Netherlands who are our most reliable supporters agreed with our own estimate that French proposal for postponement was certain to be adopted by a large majority and that any opposition to it would be misunderstood and create an impression that our only purpose was to attack the Great Powers without giving them a chance to respond while if we insisted on vote on our own resolution' at this stage it would be defeated as we would [have] lost some of our supporters. The accuracy of this estimate is shown by the fact that the French resolution was adopted by 29 to 6.

2. We therefore decided in view of the second paragraph of your UNY.1028 not to press to a vote but in further statement in reply to debate stressed that postponement was only a matter of days for the convenience of the Committee and that our resolution was not prejudiced. We also stressed that the outcome of the whole debate must be an expression of General Assembly opinion. Nothing could be substituted for the opinion of the majority of the Assembly itself. Moreover, whatever was said on methods, the Assembly should also declare a central principle that process of peaceful settlement which the Council was obliged to follow under Chapter VI must not be interrupted or hindered by the single vote of one permanent member.

3. At a moment when the vote on the French proposal was being taken, Gromyko made a blunt declaration against postponement and made it plain that the Soviet was unlikely to admit any variation of its past interpretation of the Veto. If this statement had been made earlier we might have been able to turn it into account but the best we could do was to make a declaration ourselves explaining abstention from vote, reserving our right to bring the matter before the Committee at any session and saying that in view of the disappointing Soviet response the sooner the Committee pressed to a decision the better. Only the Soviet group voted against postponement but five including Australian abstained.

4. We learn that the Big Five talks to-day produced a discouraging response from Molotov who indicated that the only suggestion with which he agreed was that the Big Five should consult among themselves regarding the use of the Veto. We suggest for your consideration that unless there is a radical change in outlook we should take early opportunity to take lead in bring[ing] the item back to the Committee and pressing for a decision. We shall have to choose the moment carefully to ensure fullest support.

5. Our resolution was formally moved on the opening day of the debate and has since been prominently before the Committee.

1 The number on the file copy has been altered by hand to '367', presumably a reference to Document 223.

2 See Document 172, paragraph 7.

[AA:A1838/2, 852/10/5, i]