130 Cablegram from Department of External Affairs to Shaw

Canberra, 6 May 1968

385. Secret Priority

Non-Proliferation Treaty

Our following telegram1 contains text of aide-memoire left with Department today by United States Embassy concerning discussion in New York between yourself and Mr Fisher.

  1. In response we have said that we would give careful consideration to American point that discussion of meaning of 'manufacture' in General Assembly would be unhelpful and perhaps damaging from the Australian standpoint. We said that in any case it was not intended that Australian statement should be made in the General Assembly until reply had been received to points put forward by you.
  2. In regard to reference in aide-memoire to the 'apparent misunderstanding' regarding the prohibitions of Articles I and II,2 we have drawn attention to the fact that Australian point is not adequately expressed in the aide-memoire. This point was that under the treaty any research, production or manufacturing process was permissible for which there was a purpose other than the manufacture of an explosive device (whether this device was for peaceful or weapons use). There was no doubt in our minds that the manufacture of an explosive device for peaceful purposes would be banned. We recognised also that there was a 'grey area' in regard to what would be considered as actually manufacturing an explosive device.
  3. In discussion with the American Embassy we have made the point that if Australia is to rely for the interpretation of the meaning of 'manufacture' on the ratification proceedings of the United States Senate it seemed to follow that any Australian ratification should be deferred until after the American ratification.
  4. With regard to the Soviet Union, we have indicated that we would not wish to have discussions with Soviet representatives until after we have received the American reply. We have pointed out, however, that we might well have a political requirement in having our own discussion with the Soviet Union at an appropriate stage.
  5. In regard to the suggestion in the aide-memoire that the Australian delegation should not seek additional interpretation regarding Article III in the General Assembly debate we have expressed doubt whether it would be desirable for us to remain silent on all safeguards questions. Although we would wish to give American views on these questions careful consideration, we might still find it necessary from our own point of view to attempt to clarify in the General Assembly debate the nature and extent of at least some of the obligations which non-nuclear states would assume in this field under the treaty.

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