98 Minute from Booker to Pritchett1

Canberra, 23 November 1967

Top Secret Austeo

Australian Nuclear Capability

[matter omitted]

3. If we are to look ten years ahead we should perhaps examine possible sources of danger other than Communist expansion. Within ten years Japan will have the nuclear and missile technology to acquire nuclear weapons and delivery systems at very short notice. It may be a little rash to assume that Japan will continue to remain devoted to peaceful policies.

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5. In dealing with your worst case, […] my feeling is that you may, again thinking ten years ahead, overestimate the 'improbability' of an American withdrawal from the Asian mainland. After all American nuclear strategy does not require the holding of positions outside the American continent and this will become increasingly true in view of prospective technological developments.

6. This does not mean, however, that America's 'nuclear commitment to Asia' would be withdrawn.

[matter omitted]

9. In applying all this to the particular case of Australia, it might be said that one of Australia's strongest interests is in the ability of the United States to protect itself from nuclear attack. It may be taken that it is unlikely that they would be able to do so in any absolute attack from the Soviet Union. But in regard to smaller nuclear powers, the problem is presumably much simpler. The recent announcement by the United States Government that it is installing an antimissile defence system against the possibility of Chinese attack is relevant in this connection.2 If the United States is invulnerable to Chinese attack, it is more likely that Australia would get American support if it were itself threatened by China. The same of course applies to China's closer neighbours.

[matter omitted]

[NAA: A1838, TS919/10/5 part 1]