85 Letter from Tange1 to Hasluck

New Delhi, 17 February 1967

Indian Nuclear Armament

I invite to your attention the existence of pressures on the government in India eventually to manufacture nuclear weapons and, in the meantime, to preserve her right to do so when it is timely and practicable. It is my impression that this trend is not receiving as much attention as it deserves in the formulation of Australian defence and external policies. Because I believe that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by India would be prejudicial to Australian security, and because India is engaged in a programme of diplomatic action likely to obstruct the conclusion of a non-proliferation agreement, I would recommend the closer definition of Australian policy on this matter.

[matter omitted]

  1. The following arguments tend to be used, in total or in part:
    1. Chinese hostility towards India is growing and at the same time China is rapidly increasing its nuclear and conventional strength.
    2. India can have no faith in any tacit United States nuclear umbrella from the time-now calculable-that China develops a nuclear strike capacity against American territory.

[matter omitted]

  1. It is my belief that an Indian policy which seems to be likely to equip India with some nuclear weapons in the long run is prejudicial now to Australian security for three reasons:
    1. We should not assume that such dangerous power would be employed by future Indian Governments with wisdom and restraint: the instability of India's coalescence of social and political forces, combined with the weakening effect on her diplomatic influence of her continuing economic weakness, would be a temptation to use nuclear strength to support the exaggerated view of India's destiny which is held in some quarters.
    2. The chain reaction could be catastrophic if Pakistan, Australia's neighbour Indonesia, South Africa and Japan were, for varying reasons, encouraged to emulate India in acquiring their own nuclear armouries.
    3. India does seem to be actively persuading countries like Indonesia, Japan and other non-aligned non-nuclear powers to join her in her resistance to acceptance of a nuclear non-proliferation agreement.

[matter omitted]

[NAA: A1838, TS919/10/5 part 1]