202 Extract from Whitlam's Address at UN General Assembly

New York, 30 September 1974

[matter omitted]

Our first aim must be to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty and work for its acceptance everywhere. Real and rapid progress can best be made through this treaty. We should build on what we have. We have not time to start all over again. Six years after it was concluded and more than four years after it came into force, some states have still to ratify the treaty, or to make clear their renunciation of nuclear weapons development. Certainly we understand the difficulties the treaty presents to some nations. We understand their reservations. We acknowledge discriminatory aspects of the treaty as it now stands, we would hope that the forthcoming review conference will remove some of these difficulties, but the conference will be more successful and meaningful if more nations ratify the treaty and work within its framework to improve it and apply it.

Secondly, we should make a comprehensive treaty to ban nuclear weapons testing an urgent priority. The treaties which have been concluded and resolutions which have been adopted are important achievements, but they have not gone far enough towards stopping the nuclear arms race. They are only steps towards universal and comprehensive agreement on nuclear weapons testing. We must complete the journey.

Thirdly we need effective international arrangements to govern and control nuclear experiments for peaceful purposes. We all recognise the promise which scientific collaboration on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy holds for economic development in the interests of all mankind. But the world cannot afford the risks which lie in the prospect where increasing numbers of countries possess nuclear devices-even if they profess to have them for peaceful purposes only. We cannot shrug off nuclear explosions which present us with such a threat, particularly those conducted outside existing safeguards and without international inspection. Australia seeks support for an international arrangement by which all states could gain access to nuclear explosive services under agreed and secure international controls for peaceful purposes. We urge all nuclear states to cooperate in establishing such a service, preferably under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency. I join with the Foreign Minister of Canada in this call.

Another approach to the goal of disarmament worth serious exploration is the concept of peace zones. They are of course no substitute for comprehensive disarmament and no substitute for an effective non-proliferation treaty. Australia, however, takes a particular interest in the agreements and proposals embodying this concept, because most of them affect our continent and our region directly. The Antarctic Treaty, the Indian Ocean Peace Zone, the ASEAN Declaration, the Treaty of Tlatelolco, and the proposal by Iran for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East all move in the right direction. They command Australia's broad support since they assert the dangers inherent in an uncontrolled, unregulated use of our planet for the deployment of nuclear weapons, they seek to limit the development, emplacement and use of nuclear weapons in the areas and environments they cover, they all express growing anxiety about the spread of nuclear weapons, they all seek paths towards reducing tensions among the nuclear powers. For the Australian Government, these initiatives not only represent ends in themselves but, we believe serve to stimulate progress on other important measures intended to bring to fulfilment the hopes of mankind to live in security, free from the threat of nuclear war.

[matter omitted]

[NAA: A1838, 919/10/5 part 44]