32 Cablegram from Beale1 to Menzies and Casey

Washington, 14 April 1958

485. Top Secret Immediate

Disarmament

In view of the public confusion which exists here concerning the cessation of nuclear tests2 and the political importance of the subject in Australia, I took the opportunity at my interview with Dulles today to seek clarification of the United States attitude.

  1. I asked whether there was any possibility that the United States Government might reach a position where it would be prepared to agree to the cessation of nuclear testing in isolation from the disarmament problem as a whole. Dulles said that he would not wish to get so committed against this that it would be politically impossible for the United States Government to do so, but there were two prior conditions which would have to be met. First was that Congress would have to approve amendment of the atomic energy act to allow for sharing with the United Kingdom of all the results of United States testing and research; and secondly the United States would have to be satisfied that the current series of tests gave them what they needed to know.
  2. With regard to the first factor Dulles said that the United Kingdom Government had strongly urged the United States not to agree to cessation of tests unless the results of United States testing could be made available to it. He had been fairly hopeful that Congress would amend the McMahon Act to allow this but some difficulties had emerged. He himself would testify before Congress on Thursday and would do his best to win acceptance for the desired amendments.

[matter omitted]

China

  1. I took the opportunity of mentioning the Australian Government's concern that the problem of China might receive inadequate consideration in disarmament discussions. Dulles said that even if a direct agreement was not made with China he hoped that a level would be set for Chinese forces and if it were exceeded the United States would regard itself as being absolved from the agreement. However he made it clear that the United States would not allow the fact that they did not recognise Communist Chinese regime to prevent negotiations with them on any matters in which negotiations seemed worthwhile. He said he appreciated Australia's concern on this matter.
  2. If an agreement were reached to abolish testing the United States would certainly want to have inspection sites in Communist Chinese territory. Dulles mentioned that the Killian Committee3 had recommended to this effect. If this were not done it might be possible for the Russians simply to transfer their testing to China. It was probable therefore that China would have to be brought into any agreement on tests.

[NAA: A1838, TS852/10/4/2]