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

Cablegram United Nations 251 NEW YORK, 5 July 1946, 8.33 p.m.


Atomic 17 (1) Under the chairmanship of Dr. Evatt, Sub-Committee No.1 of the Working Committee [1] has been holding almost daily meetings in conformity with Assembly instructions to use the utmost despatch.

Taking advantage of the smaller numbers and dispensing with translation, the Sub-Committee has made a useful survey of the main problems and to-day narrowed discussion down to the proposed international control measures and relationship between proposed authority and the United Nations, particularly the Security Council.

(2) In response to the Chairman's request, the United States presented a further memorandum in elaboration of their paper summarised. in our telegram in clear on July 2nd. [2] The United States has reached the conclusion that the central principle of international control must be effective dominion over all fissionable materials and that a single authority should both foster beneficial use and prevent misuse. They believe that the authority should have such powers as to assure its complete ownership of all source material actually produced and to that end should be empowered to search out new deposits. They do not suggest international title to source materials while they are still in the ground but control over mining and processing to assure international ownership of all stocks produced. The international authority should also own and operate all primary production facilities for manufacture of fissionable materials with possible licensing of plants to produce non-dangerous quantities. The authority should have title to all fissionable materials and final control over their use, leasing them for use by others under safe conditions. The authority would determine the dividing line between safe and dangerous activities from time to time and dangerous activities should be carried out to the greatest extent possible through direct operation by the authority. Generally, the American thought is that the difficulties regarding inspection systems will be lessened if the extent of control and ownership is increased. They believe the authority should have the sole right to conduct research on atomic explosives but for the present they leave open the question whether the international authority itself can manufacture and create stock piles of atomic weapons. To foster beneficial uses of atomic energy they propose that the authority should conduct scientific research itself and assist others to carry on such work under appropriate conditions. Since they intend that the authority should own and operate all reactors producing dangerous amounts of fissionable material, it follows that the authority itself may become a producer of power and they envisage that power so produced could be turned over or sold to existing or future power systems for final distribution. The authority may also lease to others denatured fissionable material in sufficient quantities to permit the operation of atomic power plants without hazard to the peace. Similarly, units may be leased for the production of isotopes.

(3) The Soviet representative asked numerous questions at to-day's meeting to elucidate the American proposals and although he again revived his proposal for the immediate conclusion of a convention prohibiting atomic weapons, it is apparent that the Soviet does envisage some form of international control. Several exchanges took place regarding the Soviet demand for immediate scrapping of atomic weapons and the Chairman pointed out firmly that renunciation of atomic weapons and exchange of information would be effective only when there was some assurance of control and inspection. Other-wise there would be no guarantee that solemn promises were not being broken. Reference was also made to the United States' liberality in offering to surrender existing monopoly under certain conditions and the impossibility of satisfying American public opinion with anything less than those conditions.

(4) Dr. Evatt also spoke briefly on the relationship between the proposed international authority and the United Nations and promised to circulate a working paper on this subject. He pointed out that the Security Council's powers were set out clearly in Chapters VI and VII of the Charter and were designed to bring force against an aggressor no matter what weapons were used. The Security Council's jurisdiction could not be affected in any way by the creation of an international atomic authority but the Security Council's jurisdiction only applied in the circumstances described in the Charter and applied to aggression of all kinds and not to aggression with atomic weapons. The Security Council did not have exclusive powers for peace and security and its powers were not wide enough to cover all aspects of the control of atomic energy (e.g. its use for industrial purposes). Therefore, the atomic authority could not be a subsidiary organ of the Security Council for the powers of any subsidiary organ were limited to the powers of the parent body. There must be a treaty establishing an international authority and describing its powers and functions and type of organisation.

(5) The Sub-Committee adjourned to Monday afternoon when the United States will also present working paper on relationships. So far, the greatest formative influences in the Commission's work have been the United States and Australia and their various suggestions are gaining ground.

1 i.e. the Atomic Energy Working Committee appointed by the Atomic Energy Commission.

2 See Document 6.

[AA:A1838 T184, 720/1, i]