128 Cablegram from Shaw to Department of External Affairs

New York, 2 May 1968

UN 719. Secret Immediate

Non-Proliferation Treaty: Consultations with British

Following is record of conversation at Australian Mission with Porter1 (Ambassador, British Disarmament Delegation, Geneva) and Hillier-Fry2 and Cromartie3 (British Disarmament Delegation) on 2 May. Officers present with me were Pritchett, Wilson, Cawsey, McKeown and Evans.

2. I told the British that the Australian Government was not yet in a position to take any position concerning signature of the treaty or voting on resolutions. Our interest at this stage was in exploring intentions of our friends concerning explanations, clarifications or interpretations of particular provisions of the treaty which raise difficulties for us. I outlined the major areas of difficulty to use along the general lines presented to the Americans and set out in our telegram No. 714.4

3. British reactions to the various points put to them were as follows.


4. Porter said that the British had not given any thought to making an interpretative statement and he did not think they would want to do so. The treaty consisted of a text, together with certain delicately balanced interpretative material. The last thing they wanted was to have these opened up in the United Nations where action by the Africans, in particular, could have unpredictable consequences. Nor would they want to expose for public discussion in the General Assembly the distance to which non-nuclear countries could go towards developing a nuclear capability without contravening the treaty. Porter thought that the United States and the USSR agreed with the British view which had been communicated to us in London concerning the research and development possible without contravention of the treaty. He thought, however, that if we talked about these things too much we could end with a definition which would be tighter than their own view of the matter.

5. Porter said that the provisions of treaty were explicit and he questioned the need for further interpretation. It was clear that research and development which had a peaceful application was not inhibited by the treaty-Articles 1 and 2 read together with Article 4 made this clear.5


6. Porter said that the United Kingdom had no present intention to speak on Article 3 and would probably only do so if this would follow naturally from the course of debate. They were concerned about possible implications for Euratom. At our suggestion, he undertook to keep in touch with us in the event that the United Kingdom decided to speak on this article. Porter added, however, that he would see no objection to Australia raising its own understanding of the points which were of concern to us in this article.

7. I said that one of the difficulties for Australia raising these points was that we did not wish to appear to be taking a lead in raising questions concerning the treaty but that so far there had been no discussion in the First Committee on any points of substance relating to the treaty. It would be helpful if the United States or United Kingdom or other leading supporters of the treaty could open up a discussion of some of these points of substance and establish some interpretations of critical points.

8. Cromartie said that some of these points had already been publicly discussed in the ENDC. There may be more discussion when a number of Euratom countries speak next week. Porter agreed however that there had so far been no substantive discussion of the treaty in the Assembly and he said that this conversation with us was the first discussion he had had with any other delegation in New York concerning points of substance.

(I) Model Agreement

9. Porter said that they had not considered the desirability of drawing up in the IAEA a model safeguards agreement-he could not see a model agreement working since conditions were different in different cases. Porter stated that individual safeguards agreements would be drawn up by selection from the provisions of the present safeguards document only-this was the maximum. In later discussions however he accepted that the safeguards document would be expanded so as to cover changing technological circumstances. Porter envisaged that safeguards agreements would be of limited duration and would be periodically renegotiated to take up amendments to the safeguards system.

(II) Amendments to IAEA Statute and/or Safeguards System

10. With regard to possible extensions of the existing safeguards system Cromartie distinguished between amendments or extensions of procedures affecting areas currently covered by the safeguards system and extension to cover completely new types of materials. With regard to the former, the British emphasised that the trend was towards simpler and less intrusive safeguards. Porter said that the bias of the treaty was in seeing that safeguards were applied in a way which caused minimum intrusion. The Board of Governors of the IAEA was largely composed of representatives who did not wish to have their peaceful nuclear activities inhibited by unduly obtrusive safeguards. The treaty was designed not to inhibit peaceful activities. This had been a primary interest of a number of countries closely concerned with ENDC discussions (e.g. German[y]) who were now satisfied on this point.

11. Porter pointed out that the procedure for securing the extension of safeguards to new facilities would be a lengthy one-in the first instance a new type of facility would have to come into general usage, there would have to be some feeling among countries that it ought to be included in the safeguards system, a majority would then have to be found to support its inclusion and finally agreements with individual countries would have to be negotiated as old agreements expired.

12. Porter said that countries would not automatically be bound by any amendments. In the first place Australia had a seat on the Board of Governors where Western countries had a strong voice-it was therefore highly likely that proposals which might inhibit a country's peaceful nuclear development would be resisted. Further, any amendment to the safeguards system would only come into operation as it was incorporated into the safeguards agreement between the IAEA and individual countries. In other words, its inclusion would be subject to the negotiating process at the stage when the periodic renewal of a country's safeguards agreement was in progress. It was pointed out to Porter that any negotiations could only take place on the basis of the amended safeguards document.

13. With regard to Australia's concern that there should be no extension of the list of definitions under Article XX of the IAEA Statute, Porter conceded that it was not possible to provide against all possible future contingencies but again friendly countries were likely to remain in the majority on the IAEA Board and could prevent unwelcome things.

(III) Rejection of Inspectors

14. With regard to Australia's concern to retain the right to reject particular IAEA inspectors, Porter said that this was already IAEA practice. (Cromartie added that such a right was included in the safeguards document.) The British saw no problem in this or no reason why we should not repeat our understanding on this matter in our statement in the First Committee.

(IV) Source Material

15. Porter did not see any difficulty with our view that activities in the mining and refining of uranium source material should not be subject to safeguards and to our concern to see ores, minerals, mines and ore treatment plants and refining plants excluded from the safeguards system. He saw no difficulty in our bringing out these understandings in our public statement. They would then be on the public record and could be referred to if any questions about these matters ever arose in future negotiations with the IAEA.

(V) Deposit of Excess Materials

16. Porter said that Article 12 (A) 5 of the IAEA Statute concerning the deposit of excess materials had never been applied and was not mentioned in the safeguards document. It would be a major undertaking now to get it written into that document. Porter said that this provision had died a natural death and it would be far better for us not to raise it. We made the point that the treaty took up the relevant provisions of both the statute and the safeguards system.

(VI) Consistency of Treaty with Safeguards Document

17. Porter said that the treaty provided that the safeguards agreements to be negotiated with the IAEA should be consistent with the IAEA Statute and the safeguards system. At one stage in the negotiations it had been suggested that this reference to the safeguards system should specifically refer to the 1965 safeguards document so that it would be quite clear what obligations countries were being asked to assume. It had been decided, however, not to freeze the safeguards system by reference to that document. The West Germans among others had not favoured this course since they hoped that in the future it would possible for the IAEA to agree on less intrusive safeguards. He emphasised, however, that countries would only be bound by the agreement that they had individually negotiated with the agency.

18. Later in the day, Porter telephoned to say that he had discussed our points with Mr Fred Mulley,6 who was to return to London shortly. The British view remained that 'we had nothing to worry about'. They were quite unwilling to give any assurances in public about a definition of 'manufacture'. As to 'safeguards' Mr Mulley was also unwilling to make any further statement about this in the United Nations, as he considered that the position was already quite clear. The draft treaty had been the subject of difficult negotiations and it was not for the United Kingdom to open up discussion again. All that Mr Mulley would do would be to consider what he might say in the House of Commons in response to some question about the meaning of 'safeguards' within the context of the draft treaty.

19. Porter asked if he wished to follow up this idea with a formulation of the points which might be considered for inclusion in a reply to a question in the House of Commons. I mentioned that we had already given four points regarding 'safeguards' but he wanted us to put this in writing for him.

[NAA: A1838, 680/10/2 part 5]