120 Cablegram from Mission to the United Nations to Department of External Affairs

New York, 19 April 1968

UN 641. Confidential Priority

Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

The past week has seen considerable activity in New York by both the major nuclear powers in support of their efforts to secure endorsement of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The United States have been conducting far-ranging consultation with groups as well as with key individual delegations. The USSR has been similarly engaged. At this stage the Americans say that their consultation so far have revealed that the extent of real opposition to the treaty appears to be less than they might have anticipated. Our Eastern European contacts are also voicing optimism that a majority of the Assembly will be found to favour endorsement of the treaty.

2. The United States and the USSR have apparently reached agreement on the lines of a draft resolution to be presented to the Assembly. The Canadians tell us that one idea being discussed is that a group of non-nuclear weapon powers should be sought to sponsor the draft resolution. We are informed that as it stands at present the nuclear powers text refers to the Assembly endorsing the treaty but stops short of calling on member states to sign the treaty. It is hoped that by deliberately refraining from calling on members to sign the treaty it might be possible to gain more support for the resolution. The Canadians have their own suggestions for a draft resolution which they would prefer to see watered down somewhat further. Their text, which they are discussing with the United States, would include vague language expressing the hope that the treaty would soon be open for signature.

3. Supporters of the treaty are now taking the line that a draft resolution will be put to the vote at the resumed session and that efforts to postpone discussion to the twenty-third regular session will not be successful. The major nuclear powers recognise that there may be a group of perhaps twenty or so abstentions. They hope that India may be induced to go no further than an abstention. The Pakistanis here appear to be under some pressure to go along with the treaty. Brazil may vote against a draft resolution endorsing the treaty but now appear to be in some danger of being isolated in this extreme position. The USSR have apparently told the Americans that they can obtain favourable votes from the Arabs (though the Hungarians say that Arab support is conditional on Israeli support). Little seems known of Israeli intentions. We hear that Belgium has been making noises but is expected to go along with a resolution. While not too happy with the draft, Spain may do likewise. Italy may prove more difficult and is expected to revive some of the proposals which it had raised at Geneva. The Romanians are also expected to prove difficult. The West German attitude will be a key factor. The East Europeans are deeply suspicious of West German intentions and suspect that the Germans will seek to induce others to raise procedural and other difficulties. There has also been some American suspicion that the French might try to influence French Africans against rapid action on this treaty, but so far there seems to be no evidence to support this.1

[NAA: A1838, 680/10/2 part 4]