126 Aide-Memoire from United States Government1 to Australian Government

New York, 1 May 1968

Top Secret

Delegation's Instructions—Commentary

The Embassy on April 24 observed numerous press reports of the Australian Government's decision to support a nuclear non-proliferation treaty in principle. The Age reported:

'Federal Cabinet is understood to have instructed Australia's delegation to the UN to indicate support of the treaty in principle, provided the treaty can be shown to be fully effective and provided completely satisfactory guarantees of protection against nuclear attack can be achieved.'2

The Embassy's query to the Information and Cultural Relations Branch of the Department of External Affairs elicited the information that substantially similar wording had been authorised on April 23 to be used with press representatives inquiring about the position of the Australian Government with respect to the Nonproliferation Treaty Draft.

This information was reported by the Embassy to the Department of State which instructed the Embassy to convey the following to the Australian Government:

The United States Government fully appreciates the reasonableness of the Australian Government's intention to give the Nonproliferation Treaty careful study. However, the United States Government believes that the question of Nonproliferation Treaty security assurances is one of primary concern to non-aligned non-nuclear states and not to military allies of the United States, who are already covered by the nuclear protection of the U.S. Australia is an especially close ally of the United States, having joined with the United States in two security treaties-the ANZUS Pact and the SEATO Pact. These alliance commitments are stronger than any we could give to non-allied states in conjunction with the Nonproliferation Treaty. The strength of our security commitments pursuant to treaties of alliance is based not only on the treaties themselves but on a history and tradition of close political and military collaboration. The United States and Australia have fought together as allies in World War II and Korea, and are now fighting together in Vietnam. The sacrifices which the United States is sustaining in Vietnam testify to the seriousness with which the United States views its commitments.
Accordingly, security assurances in the Nonproliferation Treaty context are primarily designed for non-nuclear signatories of the Treaty which are not allied to a nuclear power. We therefore do not believe our Allies, particularly one with whom we have had such a close political and military relationship as Australia, should have reason to question the extent of the assurances which the United States is able to give non-aligned, non-nuclear countries.
The United States Government wishes to stress that the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty will in no way affect the continuing security commitments of the United States under existing treaties of mutual security.

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