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

Cablegram UN959 NEW YORK, 8 December 1946, 10.04 p.m.


Assembly 378. Disarmament.

1. Sub-Committee continued debate on paragraph 3 of United States draft (Assembly 301) [1], and Soviet amendment. [2]

2. Discussion centred mainly on interpretation of the phrase 'within the framework of the Security Council'. [3] Molotov was not present and Vyshinsky appeared to be acting under instructions to make no concessions. He repeatedly referred to Molotov's statement on 4th December that 'the decision on reduction of armaments should be taken by means of a resolution of the Security Council', and that the Control Commissions would 'work in accordance with these rules drawn up for them by the Security Council'. He argued- (a) That Articles 24 and 26 gave the Security Council primary responsibility for disarmament and that the Council could not surrender that responsibility.

(b) That Article 2(B) of the Assembly Resolution of 24th January establishing the Atomic Energy Commission [4] meant that the Security Council would issue directions to the Control Commissions.

(c) That the Control Commissions would be subsidiary organs of the Security Council.

3. We pointed out that the U.S.S.R. had already agreed that the control system must be established by International Convention and insisted that the resolution must clearly state that the powers of the Control Commissions will be derived from and defined in the Convention.

4. This position was supported by Canada, United States of America, China, India, France and the United Kingdom, and Shawcross proposed the following redraft of paragraph 3-

'To ensure the adoption of measures for the reduction of armaments and prohibition of the use of atomic energy for military purposes and other major weapons adaptable for mass destruction here shall be established by means of a Convention or Conventions as mentioned in paragraph 2, within the framework of the Security Council who bear the main responsibility for international peace and security but acting independently of that body in the discharge of the functions assigned to them by such Convention or Conventions, a system of international control operating on the basis of a special provision which should provide for the establishment of special organs of inspection for which purpose there shall be formed (a) A Commission for carrying out the Convention or Conventions in regard to the reduction of armaments, including the operation of any necessary system of control and inspection.

(b) A Commission or Commissions for carrying out the Convention in regard to the prohibition of the use of atomic energy for warlike purposes and its control and supervision for peaceful purposes and in regard to the prohibition of other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.

The Commission referred to in paragraph 3(b) shall be entitled as occasion may require to add to the list of prohibited weapons.'

5. This is much less objectionable than the original Soviet draft, but still retains the phrase 'within the framework of the Security Council', which is still dangerous, even with the United Kingdom additions. The United Kingdom draft also leaves much too vague the functions of the proposed Commissions. We suggested that a small Drafting Committee might be appointed to formulate a resolution in logical order as follows- (a) General principles for formulation of system of disarmament.

(b) Prohibition of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction and recommendation on type of control suited to special problem of atomic energy.

(c) Regulation and reduction of armaments other than weapons of mass destruction.

6. Vyshinsky said that if Sub-Committee could have an opportunity of studying the United Kingdom amendment it might not be necessary to appoint a Drafting Committee, and it was decided to defer reference to Drafting Group until after next meeting of Sub- Committee.

1 See Document 281, note 2.

2 See Document 283, note 3.

3 The Soviet Union had insisted that responsibility for establishing and regulating a system of disarmament should lie with the Security Council, not with a control commission established under international convention.

4 See Volume IX, Document 47, and note 3 thereto.

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

Category: International relations

Topic: History