115 Burton to Kennedy [1]

Memorandum CANBERRA, 21 January 1948

TOP SECRET

As a result of approaches by oversea Governments with a view to obtaining arms and warlike stores from Australia, careful consideration has been given to the policy which should be adopted in regard to such requests. [2]

2. New situations have arisen, particularly in the Indian sub- continent [3], which make it imperative that no arms or warlike stores should be permitted to leave Australia, unless the circumstances are fully investigated beforehand by the Department for External Affairs in the light of political conditions existing at the time. In this manner the application of the Government decision at the beginning of the Netherlands-Indonesian dispute to prohibit the sale of warlike stores to foreign Governments unless with the prior permission of this Department win be extended to all oversea Governments, whether members of the British Commonwealth or not.

3. It is desired that reference should be made to this Department, not only in the case of material for which application may be made direct to any Government instrumentality by any representative or agent of an oversea Government, but Aso in the case of any material which may be in private hands as a result of normal commercial arrangements (e.g. explosives, small arms and munitions) or as a result of disposals purchases (e.g. ex service aircraft, vehicles or personal military equipment).

4. A definition of warlike equipment and stores is annexed. It will be appreciated if you will apply strictly this definition and refer to this Department any doubtful matters in connection with the supply of goods to any troubled area.

5. Attention is drawn to the fact that this document is classified as 'Top Secret'. It is accordingly requested that its circulation should be restricted as far as possible and that adequate arrangements should be made for its safekeeping.

1 Also sent to Departments of Defence, Treasury, Navy, Amy, Air, Commerce and Agriculture, Supply and Shipping, Munitions, the Disposals Commission, Civil Aviation and Postwar Reconstruction.

2 External Affairs had consulted Defence about a draft of this memorandum and the matter had be. examined by the Defence Committee. See Shedden's submission to Chifley, dated 15 January 1948, which recommended that the Defence Commitee's observations be forwarded to External Affairs as . statement of Service views without comment. Chifley concurred.

3 India and Pakistan were in dispute over the accession of Kashmir to India.

[AA:A1068/7, DL47/7/7]