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

Cablegram United Nations 273 NEW YORK, 12 July 1946, 11.19 a.m.


1. Evatt report [1] after reviewing terms of reference and working methods of Committee number 1 stated the following three principles must receive detailed consideration.

First. Whether it is desirable to negotiate international convention dealing solely with outlawing atomic weapons and destruction existing stocks or whether obligation not to make or use such weapons should be included within the framework of the general plan essential part of which should be effective system of controls to ensure atomic energy employed for peaceful purposes only. The opinion of the majority of the Committee favoured the second alternative. The second: general type of international controls and measures necessary for inclusion within the framework of the general plan including in such controls establishment of special international agency vested with executive power to determine and enforce controls and also to promote the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. The third: relationship between organized measures for international control of atomic energy and United Nations Organization particularly the Security Council. As regards the first question, all members of the Subcommittee agreed in principle that at the stage to be determined international agreement not to produce or use atomic weapons for purposes of war should be entered into. It was contended by Soviet representative that such agreement should be entered into immediately but majority (including U.S.A. which alone possesses atomic weapons) were strongly of the opinion (a) that mere convention outlawing use atomic weapons could not be regarded as adequate especially having regard to past experience of inefficacy of certain international pacts.

(b) that atomic weapons could and should be eliminated by direct measures of inspection and control and, (c) that system of control would make proposed convention largely superfluous while ensuring carrying into effect of its disarmament objectives. Convention unaccompanied by controls could not possibly be regarded as sufficient to 'ensure' use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes only. That objective could be achieved only by effective controls and guarantees amounting to a practical physical certainty that atomic bombs would not be used for military purposes because they could not be brought into existence. As between continuous and positive controls (including inspection) and a mere convention to disarm (which at present would apply in fact only against the United States) Assembly by terms of its resolution implied preferred former course. That course was in accordance with assessment of situation made by the majority of the Subcommittee to arrive as rapidly as possible at the stage where atomic weapons can be eliminated effectively and permanently. It is essential to proceed with the detailed preparation of adequate system of international control. United States contention is that effective control can be ensured only by establishment of atomic energy agency with broad powers of ownership managerial control and super-vision leasing, licensing and inspection found strong support. There was also considerable support for view that this agency should, (a) Have power to obtain complete control over or ownership of all uranium thorium or other potential source of atomic energy.

(b) Empowered to conduct investigations and surveys of sources of atomic energy.

(c) Own or rigidly control all facilities for production of U235 plutonium and such other fissionable materials as it determines to be dangerous.

(d) Control such other facilities and activities in the field of atomic energy as would be dangerous in other hands.

(e) Have free and unhindered access to and power to control license and inspect all other facilities which possess utilize or produce materials which are the source of atomic energy.

(f) Have exclusive right of research in the field of atomic explosives.

(g) Foster and promote non-dangerous use and wide distribution of atomic energy for beneficial purposes under licenses or other suitable arrangements that it may establish.

(h) Be authorized to make and issue such rules and regulations and take such action as is necessary to accomplish the purposes assigned to it. It is essential to proceed at once to a more detailed examination of actual control measures and their applications. What next should be considered are specific proposals rather than statements of principle. When this is completed it should be possible to make progress toward resolving the difficult questions of the precise functions and powers of the Atomic energy agency and its precise relationship with the organs of the United Nations, in particular the Security Council.

Subcommittee generally supported the view that system of control should be established by a single treaty which would define obligations to be accepted by member states and at the same time establish control agency and define its form of organisation functions and powers so far as necessary. The same instrument could define the relationship between the agency and various organs of United Nations. Further study was required to define exactly what relationship should be but control agency must be constituted to act without undue delay. Difficult questions of 'sanctions' which atomic energy agency should be authorised to impose, voting procedures within atomic energy agency and division of functions between such agency and the Security Council must be overcome. That could be done only by continuance of frank exchange of views which characterised the work of the Subcommittee. The Soviet suggested that it was unnecessary to confer enforcement powers o[n] atomic energy agency because any necessary enforcement action could be taken by the Security Council, while it was generally recognised that the Security Council must retain its defined executive powers so long as the charter of the United Nations remained in the present form. It was in Evatt's opinion legally and practically impossible for functions of the Security Council to be enlarged in order to include the multifarious and detailed executive decisions involved in administration of treaty providing for control and development of atomic energy. The Security Council had under the charter no executive powers of such a character. Its Executive powers existed only in situations where a threat to the peace breach of the peace or act of aggression had been proved to exist. Urgent problem was to devise means by which power may be given by treaty to atomic energy agency to control and supervise atomic energy development in such a way that neither threats to peace nor breaches of peace nor acts of aggression could be caused by the employment of atomic weapons. In other words objective was to make the control system so effective that plans for violations or evasion whether of a major or minor character might be detected at the earliest stages and prompt measures taken for effective prevention. if however, control system were in any particular case shown to be inadequate or ineffective, machinery of Security Council could be invoked either by a complainant state or if it were so agreed by atomic energy agency whenever special situations mentioned in Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter seemed likely to occur. Evatt endorsed Baruch statement on veto but did not interpret it as a demand for amendment of Charter in relation to voting. When the Security Council is dealing with imposition of sanctions under Chapter VII in point of fact such amendment would be legally impossible without consent of each permanent member. The final solution would be preparation for submission first to the Security Council and eventually to the United Nations of a multilateral treaty embodying four vital subject matters i.e.

(a) An overall plan for international control of atomic energy and its development for peaceful purposes.

(b) The Charter of an international atomic energy agency with wide powers to administer the plan and put it into effect.

(c) Obligations by member states not to use atomic energy for purposes of destruction and, (d) Terms and conditions under which several parts of the plan shall become operative in just and equitable sequence.

The broad principle advocated so strongly by Baruch would be carried into substantial effect provided it were understood from the outset that every party to the atomic energy treaty would be subject to rules of conduct laid down either in the treaty itself or by International control agency established by such treaty. it followed from the same principle of rule of law that no system of veto could possibly be permitted in the procedure of atomic energy agency simply because that would mean a right or privilege to claim a special immunity or exemption from the rules and regulations of conduct, thus subverting the main purposes of the overall plan for such reasons. Each and every nation entering into the atomic energy treaty must be bound by all its obligations.

Binding effect of system of international controls could be evaded either by including in proposed treaty provisions for granting such immunity to one or more nations or by conferring on the Security Council additional function of administering control system. Both were inadmissible and unlikely to secure general acceptance in order to carry out principles of Baruch proposals and mandate given to the atomic energy commission by Assembly. A special international agency for atomic control and development would have to be established by multilateral treaty, such agency being vested with administrative and executive powers and being made responsible to the Signatory nations and also brought into special relationship with the United Nations Organization.

1 i.e. the report indicated in Document 22

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