185 Submission from Cumes to Bowen

Canberra, 20 April 1972


Australian Membership of the Zangger Committee

The purpose of this submission is to seek your approval for Australia to accept an invitation to join the Zangger Committee.

2. The Zangger Committee comprises an informal group of Western 'supplier' countries which has been considering the interpretation and implementation of IAEA safeguards with a view to creating conditions of fair commercial competition so that no country is commercially disadvantage because it takes a more stringent view of its obligations than do others.1 The Committee, which first met in June 1970, takes its name from its Chairman, Dr. Claude Zangger, Director of Switzerland's Federal Office of Energy. The Committee has no secretariat, no membership fees or formal obligations, and meets on an occasional basis two or three times a year, mostly in Vienna but also in other European capitals. The present membership of the Committee is:

Germany (Federal Republic)United Kingdom
ItalyUnited States

3. While the Committee comprises countries party to, and countries not party to, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, a major concern of the Committee has been the analysis of the safeguards obligations under Article III(2) of the Treaty. This Article provides:

'Each State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to provide: (a) source or special fissionable material or (b) equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material, to any non-nuclear weapon State for peaceful purposes, unless the source or special fissionable material shall be subject to the safeguards required by this Article'.

4. The Zangger Committee has been working recently to produce a document which will outline a 'gentleman's agreement' on how safeguards would be applied to exports of items on an agreed 'trigger list' to countries not party to the N.P.T. This agreement will be without prejudice to each member of the Committee making its own decision and requiring, if it wishes, arrangements additional to those specified in the 'gentleman's agreement'.

5. Participation by Australia in the work of the Committee would provide us with an opportunity to influence the establishment of agreed procedures and criteria for the application of safeguards in a way which takes account of Australian circumstances. It would also provide a means by which we could reassure ourselves that Australia is not being disadvantaged by other countries requiring less rigorous safeguards conditions. In the longer term the Committee's work will be an important element in avoiding a situation in which bilateral safeguards could be undermined by commercial competitive pressure. At its last meeting in February this year, which Australia observed, the Committee indicated that it would welcome full participation by Australia (and also by South Africa).

6. The AAEC is strongly in favour of membership of the Zangger Committee. We have been informed that the Minister for National Development favours Australian membership of this Committee.

7. The costs of representation on the Committee should be small since we envisage that this would be handled by our IAEA Resident Representative in Vienna (Ambassador Corkery)2 assisted as required by an AAEC officer expert in safeguards procedures. The Committee's next meeting will be held in Vienna from 3rd to 5th May, 1972.

8. It is recommended that you approve Australia's participation in the work of the Zangger Committee.

[NAA: A1838, 919/10/5 part 35]