112 Cablegram from Embassy in Washington to Department of External Affairs

Canberra, 15 March 1968

1117. Secret

Non-Proliferation Treaty

Our telegram 11151.

Following is the text of the US 'interpretations' of the non-proliferation treaty.


  1. The treaty deals only with what is prohibited, not with what is permitted.
  2. It prohibits transfer to any recipient whatsoever of 'nuclear weapons' or control over them, meaning bombs and warheads. It also prohibits the transfer of other nuclear explosive devices because a nuclear explosive device intended for peaceful purposes can be used as a weapon or can be easily adapted for such use.
  3. It does not deal with, and therefore does not prohibit, transfer of nuclear delivery vehicles or delivery systems, or control over them to any recipient, so long as such transfer does not involve bombs or warheads.
  4. It does not deal with allied consultations and planning on nuclear defence so long as no transfer of nuclear weapons or control over them results.
  5. It does not deal with arrangements for development of nuclear weapons within allied territory as these do not involve any transfer of nuclear weapons or control over them unless and until a decision were made to go to war, at which time the treaty would no longer be controlling.
  6. It does not deal with the problem of European unity, and would not bar succession by a new federated European state to the nuclear status of one of its former components. A new federated European state would have to control all of its external security functions including defence and all foreign policy matters relating to external security, but would not have to be so centralized as to assume all governmental functions. While not dealing with succession by such a federated state, the treaty would bar transfer of nuclear weapons (including ownership) or control over them to any recipient, including a multilateral entity.

[NAA: A1838, 680/10/2 part 2]