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187 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram United Nations 591 NEW YORK, 31 October 1946, 7.42 p.m.


Assembly 63.

The introduction of the Soviet resolution [1] on regulation of armaments (see Assembly 53 [2]) the United States reply [3] (see Assembly 59) and the various statements which have been made by other Delegations on the Atomic Energy Control makes ...

imperative a consideration of Australian objectives in connection with disarmament and the relationship between the general problem and the work of the Atomic Energy Commission.

2. It is apparent from the terms of the Soviet resolution, and the challenge issued by Molotov to other Delegations to express their attitude, that the U.S.S.R. intend to make this a leading issue.

The resolution appears to be an attempt to secure support both in the Assembly and from World opinion [for] the Soviet draft convention outlawing atomic weapons, and to undermine the Baruch plan for enforceable safeguards. The resolution also attacks the Australian-American proposals by its assumption that the Security Council should be the body to provide for the practical achievement of atomic energy control as well as of general reduction of armaments. The significance and danger of this manoeuvre may not however be evident to Delegations unfamiliar with the tactics adopted by the U.S.S.R. in the Atomic Energy Commission. It seems desirable that we should be prepared to take the initiative when the Soviet resolution comes up for debate.

3. Our broad objectives would appear to be:-

(a) To secure from the Assembly a reaffirmation of the position inherent in the resolution of 17th January [4] that the control of atomic energy is not merely a disarmament problem but should also include consideration of development for peaceful purposes.

This is essential in order to maintain the predominant position of the Assembly in relation to atomic energy.

(b) To secure confirmation of the terms of reference already given to the commission. The factors of 'control' and 'safeguards' must be re-emphasised.

(c) To ensure that any recommendation to the Security Council in relation to the Military Staff Committee doesn't imply a waiver by the Assembly of its right to consider the general principles governing disarmament and the regulation of armaments.

4. We have already urged in our opening statement that the Security Council and Military Staff Committee make an early beginning with the formulation of plans. This may help to counter the suggestion that the U.S.S.R. are the sole champions of general disarmament, but elaborating our views on general regulation of armaments we should not lose sight of principles which we are advocating in the Atomic Energy Commission.

5. In order to give as little material as possible for Soviet propaganda we feel that it would be advisable to work by way of amendment to the Soviet resolution. This might be along the following fines- (a) No change in paragraph 1.

(b) Paragraph 2 omit all words after 'primary objective' and insert 'the expeditious fulfilment by the Atomic Energy Commission of its terms of reference as set forth in the General Assembly resolution of 17th January, 1946'.

(c) Paragraph 3 to read 'The General Assembly recommends' to the Security Council that it proceed, with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee, to formulate plans for the establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments. Such plans should be coordinated with the recommendations which are made from time to time by the Atomic Energy Commission and should pay due regard to the need for adequate safeguards to protect complying states against the hazards of violation and evasion.' 6. The possibility of some such amendment has been considered at a low level by the United States, United Kingdom and Canadian Delegations and subject to further soundings of the position we feel that the formula we have suggested would receive support.

Austin's statement in his opening speech that Baruch's policy is the policy of the President and the Secretary of State and that there must be safeguards in any system for the regulation of armaments tends to confirm this impression.

7. We might at the same time suggest the appointment of sub- committee to draw up statement on general principles of disarmament for submission during current session.

8. We would appreciate the earliest possible guidance on the general issues and your views on terms of the amendment if course we have suggested recommends itself to you.'

1 Document 186.

2 Dispatched 30 October. In it the Australian delegation had proposed, among other things, to defend in the General Assembly the Baruch plan for enforceable safeguards in the development of atomic energy (see Volume IX, Document 312) against Molotov's charge that the plan was contrary to the U.N. Charter.

3 Senator Warren Austin, addressing tile General Assembly in plenary session on 30 October, had supported the placing of Molotov's proposal on the Assembly agenda, emphasising that the United States advocated effective safeguards by way of inspection and other means to 'protect complying States against the hazards of violation and evasion' in regard to both general disarmament and the development of atomic energy.

4 Presumably General Assembly Resolution 1 (1) of 24 January; see Volume IX, Document 47, and note 3 thereto.

5 The External Affairs Dept approved the suggested amendment in a cable of 2 November.

[AA:A1838/2, 852/10/4]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013

Category: International relations

Topic: History