143 Cablegram from Shaw to Department of External Affairs

New York, 18 June 1968

UN 1042. Confidential Immediate

Conference of Non-Nuclear Weapon States

[matter omitted]

  1. The next important stage would be the meeting of the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee, scheduled to commence in Geneva about 15th July. This meeting may be important in revealing whether a further major step in disarmament might be taken. (The hope would be that the meeting would provide background for some agreement between the US and USSR to prevent a competitive race for anti-ballistic missiles systems.)
  2. Between now and September some action might be taken by certain states to sign and ratify the draft nuclear non-proliferation treaty. President Johnson told the General Assembly on 12th June that he would move rapidly to seek the agreement of the United States Senate to signature of the treaty and action is hoped to be completed by the end of July. The background for the meeting of non-nuclear weapon states commencing 29th August will be provided by whatever progress might be made towards signature and ratification of the NPT and in the ENDC.
  3. In the light of the debate in the resumed session of the Twenty-Second General Assembly and of some recent discussions which we have had informally, it seems that this conference of non-nuclear weapon states will be of much more political importance to Australia than we had thought at an earlier stage. With the passage of the Assembly resolution commending the draft non-proliferation treaty and the Security Council security assurances, logic might have required that much of the provisional agenda for the conference as earlier approved by the General Assembly would be rejected as redundant or out of date.
  4. There is every indication however that a number of non-nuclear weapon states will use the conference in Geneva to go back over many of their points of differences and difficulty with the non-proliferation treaty. They show no disposition to devote themselves primarily to technical questions regarding the application of the undertakings in the NPT to assist nonnuclear countries in their scientific and economic development or item 4 of the provisional agenda 'programmes for peaceful uses of nuclear energy'.
  5. The most troublesome of the political problems likely to take up the attention of the Geneva Conference in September relates to the strong urge amongst many non-nuclear countries or so-called 'non-aligneds' to enforce on the nuclear powers further binding obligations not to use their nuclear weapons against non-nuclear powers.1

[matter omitted]

  1. [matter omitted] The whole question of security guarantees and international conventions about nuclear weapons should have been considered fully by the non-nuclear weapon states before they took any decisions about the draft treaty. [matter omitted]
  2. It seems that Yugoslavia is taking a leading role in this kind of thinking. A member of the Yugoslav mission told us today that so far as Yugoslavia was concerned the conference of non-nuclears should deal mainly with security matters. He said that his government thought that the resolution about to be passed in the Security Council was inadequate and something more far-reaching was necessary. The most essential thing was to get guarantees from the three nuclear guarantors that they would not use their nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.
  3. The Yugoslav said that he understood that the USSR would be prepared to agree to the 'Kosygin formula' if the western side would make a reciprocal or balanced gesture. (We understand that the Kosygin formula would involve undertaking not to use nuclear weapons against signatories of the non-proliferation treaty which did not have foreign military bases on their soil.)
  4. He said that in the Yugoslav view it should be possible to devise an extended formula which would enable nuclear powers to undertake not to use nuclear weapons against all signatories to the treaty, whether they had foreign bases on their soil or not. He envisaged a definition with perhaps slightly different provisions for states in different circumstances, e.g. those within and outside security alliances, those with and without foreign military bases on their soil. He said that the Yugoslav Government would be in touch with other governments to this end over the next few months with the aim of having concrete proposals to put before the conference.

[matter omitted]

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