161 Submission from Corkery1 to McMahon2

Canberra, 29 April 1970


NPT Safeguards

This submission seeks your approval for the transmission to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the attached working paper3 giving Australian views as to the implications of the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons for the Agency's safeguards system.

  1. This requirement arises from a resolution of 2nd April of the IAEA's Board of Governors, which invites member states to give their views on NPT safeguards by 1st May. It is the first step in what undoubtedly will be a long process.
  2. The attached paper has been agreed between the Departments of External Affairs and National Development, the Prime Minister's Department and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. It is cautiously phrased, with the objective of presenting general and somewhat tentative views in a manner that would give us room for manoeuvre, depending upon the direction of the discussion in Vienna. It accords in spirit with our departmental interpretation of the statement the Government made on signing the non-proliferation treaty on 27th February last,4 which is that Australia took this step in good faith and will try to secure understandings in regard to its residual grounds for concern with the treaty that will enable us to ratify it in due course.

[matter omitted]

  1. The core of the paper is the recommendation in paragraph 5(c) that treaty safeguards should concentrate on those nuclear materials and facilities from which the illicit manufacture of nuclear explosives would otherwise be a credible operation: this suggestion would limit the scope of safeguards under the treaty but would not detract from their effectiveness. It might attract opposition from the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., which favour the translation of the existing wider-ranging agency safeguards system into the safeguards agreements under the treaty. However, it might gain support from certain near-nuclear nations that share Australia's interests in regard to the nature of treaty safeguards. We hope that it will result in the negotiation of a safeguards system that is effective, acceptable and economical to operate. In any case, the presentation of a paper is, as already mentioned, the first step only in the process of discussion about safeguards. There will therefore be opportunities to adjust our position and posture in the light of developments.

[matter omitted]

[NAA: A1838, 719/10/6 part 10]