Australia and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1945–1974

Documents on Australian Foreign Policy

Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Edited by Wayne Reynolds and David Lee

August 2013

This volume in the Documents on Australian Foreign Policy series draws on unpublished records from the National Archives of Australia to document the negotiation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) from an Australian perspective. Commencing with early post-war efforts to control nuclear energy following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the volumes traces Australia’s changing attitude to the issue of nuclear arms control and disarmament during the Cold War years of the 1950s and 1960s and its ambiguous approach to the acquisition of nuclear weapons in the subsequent negotiation of the NPT. Signed by the Gorton government in 1970 after considerable debate in the policymaking community in Canberra, the treaty was ratified by the Whitlam government in 1973 and has since formed a fundamental plank in Australian attitudes and policies towards international efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.

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