144 Cablegram from Shaw to Department of External Affairs

New York, 19 June 1968

UN 1057. Confidential

Non-Nuclear Weapons States Conference

With further reference to your telegram no. 5451 and as foreshadowed in my telegram no. 1042 of 18 June,2 I had separate discussions today 19th June with United Kingdom and United States representatives concerning the non-proliferation treaty, the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee, and the non-nuclear weapons states conference scheduled for Geneva August/September of this year.

  1. Adrian Fisher, Deputy Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, said that in regard to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the United States processes for signing would be taken very soon indeed. It was not the wish of the administration to have such a matter before the Senate at a time too near the presidential election. By the end of this month of June he hoped that the treaty would be presented by the three sponsoring powers for signature and ratification by other states. They envisage a procedure similar to that taken for the nuclear test ban treaty, when a number of states, including Australia, had signed the treaty on the day on which it had been opened for signature. Fisher thought that messages might soon be sent to a number of capitals asking that as many governments as possible sign and ratify the treaty at an early stage.
  2. Fisher then spoke of the session of the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee, due to commence in Geneva on 17th July. I said that representatives at the non-nuclear weapons states conference would no doubt, in the light of assurances given at the recent General Assembly, expect some progress to be made on some disarmament questions in the ENDC.
  3. Fisher said that the subject on which the United States hoped that there was some prospect of doing business with the USSR related to limitations to be set to the development of offensive ballistic missile systems and anti-ballistic missile systems. In the first place discussions to this end would have to go on in the two capitals most concerned but the ENDC in Geneva would become very restless if they were not kept informed at some point of what was going on. Fisher spoke of some possible agreement about a cut off in the accumulation of fissionable material and even the destruction of some launching sites. He said, however, that the Russians, as the result of their analysis of the present state of balance and counter-balance, might want to be free to accumulate some more fissionable material before accepting a cut-off.
  4. Fisher said that the ENDC might take up a proposal for a comprehensive test ban treaty which the USSR would advance, although it was not quite ready for implementation of a comprehensive treaty.
  5. Another disarmament matter which the ENDC might consider would be the nature of the regime necessary to control atomic explosions for peaceful purposes. This was not a matter for the IAEA but in the first instance for the ENDC.
  6. Turning to the non-nuclear weapons states conference, Fisher said that the United States Administration had not yet formulated its views. What he had to say was based on his own thoughts and recommendations to his government. He would confirm these in Washington next week and let me know further.
  7. Fisher recalled that the United States had spoken strongly in support of the idea of the NNWSC3 and they could not go back on their spoken word. They were not so clear as to what they thought might come out of the conference. He recalled that he had earlier advised me that this conference should be concerned primarily with the implementation of Articles 4 and 5 of the NPT i.e. the application of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. He now revised this opinion and believed that the significance of the conference would be in the activities of other states in promoting their ideas about declarations about the non-use of atomic weapons by the nuclear weapons states. He also thought that the USSR might use the conference for simple continuation of its propaganda to 'ban the bomb'.
  8. As to membership of the conference, it is clear from paragraph 3 of resolution 2346 of the General Assembly of 19th December, 1967, that East Germany could not be invited to the conference. It was equally clear from paragraph 16 of the report of the preparatory committee (Document A/6817 of 19th September, 1967) that Communist China could be included amongst the nuclear weapon states to be invited, without the right to vote. The United States by accepting that report had made it known that it would be prepared for an invitation in those terms to be sent to Communist China. Of course, the Republic of China would be invited in its capacity as a non-nuclear weapon state member of the United Nations, and in those circumstances Peking could hardly be expected to sit down with the nationalists.

[matter omitted]

  1. I suggested to Porter4 that much as we might hope that the conference devote itself to practical matters regarding the peaceful application of atomic power, there would have to be direction from the big powers or from countries who were not interested in forcing those big powers to agree to guarantees which they were not prepared to give. Porter said it would be important for countries like Australia and the Benelux who shared our points of view to be strongly represented at Geneva.

[NAA: A1838, 680/10/2 part 6]