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

Cablegram UN922 NEW YORK, 6 December 1946, 11.51 a.m.


Assembly No.347.

1. Disarmament Sub-committee [1] debate commenced 5th December using United States proposal (Assembly 301) [2] as basis for discussion. Spaak was appointed Chairman.

2. First sentence of United States draft, which is substantially the same as paragraph one of Australian draft [3], was accepted without change.

3. On second half of first paragraph Molotov questioned need of reference to 'international treaties and agreements'. He was answered effectively by Connally who referred to Article 26 and again stressed the fact that plans formulated by the Security Council must be submitted to member states for ratification.

4. We pointed out that not only must plans be submitted to member states but all members must have an opportunity of expressing views before a convention be finally drafted. We stressed that Council could not simply prepare a convention and ask for immediate adoption by states not members of the Council.

5. We were supported by Canada who suggested that after consideration of plans by all member states an international conference should be called to draft the necessary conventions which would then be open for ratification.

6. Sub-committee eventually adopted amendment suggested by Spaak to delete words 'pursuant to international treaties and agreements' and adding new sentence at end of paragraph as follows. 'The plans formulated by the Security Council shall be submitted to member states for ratification in accordance with Article 26.' Before accepting this amendment we made it clear that we were doing so on the express understanding that 'ratification' included all the necessary steps up to ratification. China made a similar declaration.

7. The United Kingdom delegation have circulated a revised draft of paragraph 2, amending the last sentence to read as follows.

'The General Assembly further recommends that in the light of such proposals as the Atomic Energy Commission may make within its terms of reference the Security Council expedite consideration and preparation of a draft convention to be submitted to the Assembly for the prohibition of atomic and other weapons of mass destruction and for the establishment of the system of international control and regulation referred to in paragraph 3 hereof.' This will be considered by sub-committee when it resumes 6th December.

1 On 4 December Molotov had stated that 'the rule of unanimity in the Security Council has nothing to do with the work of control commissions', thus modifying the U.S.S.R. position on the subject of the veto; a sub-committee of twenty members, including Australia, was then established with a view to reaching agreement on a commonly accepted draft on disarmament.

2 Proposals on the general regulation and reduction of armaments submitted by the representatives of Australia, Canada, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States, had been referred to the subcommittee; it would also consider proposals from the Soviet Union, Argentina and Egypt relating to the presence of armed forces of U.N. members in foreign territories and the question of information from member governments on their armed forces and armaments.

3 See Document 228.

[AA:A1838/2, 852/10/4]