129 Cablegram from Shaw to Department of External Affairs

New York, 4 May 1968

UN 736. Secret Priority

Non-Proliferation Treaty

In pursuance of the suggestion in paragraph 4 of your telegram 373 of 1st May 1968,1 that the delegation might seek the opportunity to raise certain implications of the draft nonproliferation treaty which were of concern to Australia in discussions with other delegations, we have had some informal discussions as reported below.

[matter omitted]


  1. In discussions with Pritchett, Ambassador Eschauzier2 said that the treaty was extremely important to NATO and European countries and they were anxious that it command wide support. He thought the United Nations the wrong place for us to raise our worries about the treaty. The United Nations could not help us on safeguards matters. We should be unlikely to find anybody interested or competent to take up our points. These were matters for exploration in the IAEA, not the United Nations.
  2. It would not be sensible to try and draw up a single model agreement. This was not practicable in the view of the different situations in different countries. Apart from this it would be ill advised to try to rush the development of the safeguards to operate under the treaty. These were now the subject of consultation and examination in Vienna and the new system was clearly not going to be easy to devise.
  3. In the first place it would be necessary substantially to reduce the scope of the IAEA safeguards system, which was more far reaching than the non-proliferation treaty would require. Indeed, were it not for Article III B1 of the IAEA Statute (requiring the IAEA to conduct its activities ... in conformity with policies of the United Nations ... (and) any international agreements entered into pursuant to such policies), the IAEA would be in great difficulties in adapting to the non-proliferation treaty. Secondly, the non-proliferation treaty already placed very great restraints on nations and it was not to be expected that they would accept a ponderous safeguards system.
  4. The whole intent was to develop safeguards that would be light and non-intrusive. There would be loopholes, but these were unlikely to be significant, and in any case the safeguards would not be the only indicators of a country's intentions. However, the development of the safeguards system could not be expected in a short time. It would come gradually.
  5. Eschauzier agreed that a country ratifying the treaty would not know precisely what safeguards obligations it was undertaking, but asked whether Australia really considered this a stumbling block. It was not true that we should be signing a 'blank cheque'. From existing safeguards systems and consultations in Vienna we should be able to inform ourselves quite closely about requirements. Then there was the negotiating process under Article III. This surely offered us ample scope to protect our interests, especially as we were members of the Board. The agency's obligations under the statute and as defined in the safeguards system gave a party adequate grounds to resist significant disabilities. The ultimate possibility of a deadlock with the IAEA existed but was so remote and theoretical as not to be assessed a significant risk in practical terms.
  6. Eschauzier said that he could not conceive of IAEA extending safeguards over mining etc., though this was the arrangement in Euratom.
  7. He said that Article V3 was most important and he intended to speak in committee on it.

[matter omitted]

[NAA: A1838, 680/10/2 part 5]