24 Note from Brown1 to Timbs2

Canberra, 7 June 1957

Joint Statement

Mr. Tange rang this morning about Christmas Island.3 His specific question was: 'Did we have any up-to-date information about conclusions being drawn from the present tests, or, if we did not, do we know whether there is any point in Commonwealth machinery where this information was being received'.

  1. He explained that the purpose in his enquiry was that Mr. Casey was receiving from various sources suggestions that Australia might take this initiative or that in relation to nuclear tests at the discussions on disarmament. They felt in External Affairs the need for some place where they could get authoritative and quick advice on what the stage was on United Kingdom thinking. He recalled that, at an earlier stage, the United States had been willing to go some distance in negotiations with the Russians but that the United Kingdom, feeling itself at some disadvantage as to negotiating strength, had hung back. He was wondering, for example, whether they now felt that, being in a stronger negotiating position, it might not be necessary to hang back any longer. He was anxious that no suggestions should be made as to Australian initiative or action which would be embarrassing to the United Kingdom but felt that it was necessary to have some further information about what the United Kingdom [thought] if embarrassment was to be avoided by some method other than silence.
  2. I said I did not think that we were getting anything but that I thought Sir Leslie Martin4 probably received fairly up-to-date information. I did not know whether he got this in a formal way or on a more informal basis. I rather had the impression that some of his most interesting information came in private communications. I said that I would ask you about the matter to see whether you knew anything more than this and if I could find out anything I would get in touch with him again.
  3. Incidentally, Tange said that he had felt the need for Martin to be present at the Defence Committee meetings when scientific matters were before the Committee. Sir Frederick Shedden had always been reluctant to have this but he was proposing to take the matter up with Hicks5 on Hicks' return. I said I entirely agreed with his view that it was [not enough]6 for the Chiefs of Staff7 to report on these matters. He added that they never made any attempt to and generally contented themselves with saying that they did not understand them.

[NAA: A1209, 1957/5688 part 1]