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11 Australian Delegation, United Nations, to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram United Nations 251 NEW YORK, 5 July 1946, 8.33 p.m.


Atomic 17
(1) Under the chairmanship of Dr. Evatt, Sub-Committee No.1 of the
Working Committee [1] has been holding almost daily meetings in
conformity with Assembly instructions to use the utmost despatch.

Taking advantage of the smaller numbers and dispensing with
translation, the Sub-Committee has made a useful survey of the
main problems and to-day narrowed discussion down to the proposed
international control measures and relationship between proposed
authority and the United Nations, particularly the Security

(2) In response to the Chairman's request, the United States
presented a further memorandum in elaboration of their paper
summarised. in our telegram in clear on July 2nd. [2] The United
States has reached the conclusion that the central principle of
international control must be effective dominion over all
fissionable materials and that a single authority should both
foster beneficial use and prevent misuse. They believe that the
authority should have such powers as to assure its complete
ownership of all source material actually produced and to that end
should be empowered to search out new deposits. They do not
suggest international title to source materials while they are
still in the ground but control over mining and processing to
assure international ownership of all stocks produced. The
international authority should also own and operate all primary
production facilities for manufacture of fissionable materials
with possible licensing of plants to produce non-dangerous
quantities. The authority should have title to all fissionable
materials and final control over their use, leasing them for use
by others under safe conditions. The authority would determine the
dividing line between safe and dangerous activities from time to
time and dangerous activities should be carried out to the
greatest extent possible through direct operation by the
authority. Generally, the American thought is that the
difficulties regarding inspection systems will be lessened if the
extent of control and ownership is increased. They believe the
authority should have the sole right to conduct research on atomic
explosives but for the present they leave open the question
whether the international authority itself can manufacture and
create stock piles of atomic weapons. To foster beneficial uses of
atomic energy they propose that the authority should conduct
scientific research itself and assist others to carry on such work
under appropriate conditions. Since they intend that the authority
should own and operate all reactors producing dangerous amounts of
fissionable material, it follows that the authority itself may
become a producer of power and they envisage that power so
produced could be turned over or sold to existing or future power
systems for final distribution. The authority may also lease to
others denatured fissionable material in sufficient quantities to
permit the operation of atomic power plants without hazard to the
peace. Similarly, units may be leased for the production of

(3) The Soviet representative asked numerous questions at to-day's
meeting to elucidate the American proposals and although he again
revived his proposal for the immediate conclusion of a convention
prohibiting atomic weapons, it is apparent that the Soviet does
envisage some form of international control. Several exchanges
took place regarding the Soviet demand for immediate scrapping of
atomic weapons and the Chairman pointed out firmly that
renunciation of atomic weapons and exchange of information would
be effective only when there was some assurance of control and
inspection. Other-wise there would be no guarantee that solemn
promises were not being broken. Reference was also made to the
United States' liberality in offering to surrender existing
monopoly under certain conditions and the impossibility of
satisfying American public opinion with anything less than those

(4) Dr. Evatt also spoke briefly on the relationship between the
proposed international authority and the United Nations and
promised to circulate a working paper on this subject. He pointed
out that the Security Council's powers were set out clearly in
Chapters VI and VII of the Charter and were designed to bring
force against an aggressor no matter what weapons were used. The
Security Council's jurisdiction could not be affected in any way
by the creation of an international atomic authority but the
Security Council's jurisdiction only applied in the circumstances
described in the Charter and applied to aggression of all kinds
and not to aggression with atomic weapons. The Security Council
did not have exclusive powers for peace and security and its
powers were not wide enough to cover all aspects of the control of
atomic energy (e.g. its use for industrial purposes). Therefore,
the atomic authority could not be a subsidiary organ of the
Security Council for the powers of any subsidiary organ were
limited to the powers of the parent body. There must be a treaty
establishing an international authority and describing its powers
and functions and type of organisation.

(5) The Sub-Committee adjourned to Monday afternoon when the
United States will also present working paper on relationships. So
far, the greatest formative influences in the Commission's work
have been the United States and Australia and their various
suggestions are gaining ground.

1 i.e. the Atomic Energy Working Committee appointed by the Atomic
Energy Commission.

2 See Document 6.

[AA:A1838 T184, 720/1, i]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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