132 Cablegram from Shaw to Department of External Affairs

New York, 7 May 1968

UN 744. Secret Immediate

Non-Proliferation Treaty

Your telegram 3851 and 386.2

Following is a record of discussions held today, 6th May, in the Australian Mission with representative of the United States.

2. The Australian delegation was the same as that reported in my telegram 7143 for our first discussion with the United States delegation. At today's meeting the United States were represented by Mr Adrian Fisher, Mr Heckrotte, Mr Huberman and in addition, Mr De Palma4 (Assistant Director, Bureau of International Relations, ACDA, and one of the leaders of the American team in the ENDC).

3. Regarding 'manufacture', Fisher said that his understanding was that the definition I had put to him last week had been suggested by the Australian side in Canberra. He understood that the definition had not necessarily been accepted by the United States side in those discussions. United States reservations related to certain research and development activities involving significant quantities of fissile materials. Fisher thought that the United States would not have any particular difficulty with the Australian definition. The United States felt however, that raising the question of a definition of manufacture in the General Assembly would 'on the whole be unproductive'.

[matter omitted]

6. [matter omitted] He fully recognised the fact that Australia had an interest in 'not having people looking too closely over our shoulders'.

7. Fisher confirmed that the United States had no objection to research work on and production of enriched fissionable materials. This was recognised as a peaceful area. The only reservations the United States had would arise in relation to the diversion of these fissionable materials to weapons or explosive devices production. Fisher also said nothing would stop Australia doing work on high explosive technology including explosions. It might be a waste of money but it would not be in conflict with the treaty. What would not be permissible was directly related to nuclear explosives involving significant quantities of fissionable material.

[matter omitted]

11. Fisher said that while the United States might feel itself a better source of enriched materials, a decision to carry out work on such materials was for individual countries to make. Articles I and II5 had no limiting effect on the development of enrichment processes, save that under the treaty the materials concerned would be under safeguards.

12. Wilson asked whether the enrichment process was one of the areas in which the flow of information would be facilitated under Article IV of the treaty.

13. Fisher replied that he was not sure about this. Information on reactor development would certainly be made available but he was not enthusiastic about exporting information on technology on the U-235 barrier or the centrifuge process. The United States had recently reclassified its information in this field and he would not give an assurance that the United States would be willing to make information on it available to others.

14. Regarding the Netherlands interpretation of Article I ('that assistance by supplying knowledge, materials and equipment cannot be denied to non-nuclear weapon states until it is clearly established that such assistance would be used for the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear devices'), Fisher said that it could not be denied that on the basis of Article IV of the treaty the United States had an obligation to engage in cooperative programmes. He said that the original Article IV, as proposed by Mexico and Nigeria, had said virtually that non-nuclear powers could demand, without right of refusal, any information they desired. However, he could not promise that the present article meant that non-nuclear weapon powers would have the right to obtain any and all information on the nuclear process other than information involving the inside of a nuclear explosive device. Fisher went on to say that if the Russians attempted to expand the prohibitions of Articles I and II 'the United States would defend us'. However, in relation to the provision of information, the United States could not say to a non-nuclear state 'if this is not part of a weapon, it is your' [sic]. Even if the United States did say that, the Soviet Union would not.

15. Asked whether the Netherlands' interpretation referred to above caused the United States any difficulty, Fisher replied that it may be that 'the Netherlands was crowding us'.

[matter omitted]

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