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

Cablegram UN692 NEW YORK, 14 November 1946, 1.03 a.m.


Assembly 151.

Your UN[Y]321. [1]

Amendment to Soviet resolution on disarmament and atomic energy.

The following is a summary of views expressed in private

1. The United Kingdom delegation have indicated general support
but have not commented in detail.

2. Canadian delegation have suggested a number of additions to our
draft amendment along the following lines-
(a) Paragraph 1-for 'reduction' read 'regulation and reduction'.

(b) New paragraph 2 recommending to Security Council negotiation
without further delay of special agreements under Article 43.

(c) Paragraph 3 (replacing Soviet paragraph 2) urging expeditious
fulfilment of the Atomic Energy Commission of its terms of
reference (our Assembly 63 [2] paragraph 5(b)).

(d) Paragraph 4. 'A system for the general regulation and
reduction of armaments must be based on an international treaty or
convention on the limitation of armament.' This treaty or
convention would provide two safeguards for complying States
against the hazards of violation and evasion: one, international
responsibility with effective guarantees for the loyal execution
of the treaty or convention, and two, sanctions against States
violating essential provisions of the treaty or convention.

(e) Paragraph 5. 'In order to [provide] complying States with
effective guarantees from loyal execution of the treaty or
convention, it should provide for the establishment of a permanent
international commission of control with the power to carry out
investigations on the spot in the event of reasonable suspicion of
a breach of the treaty or convention and of subsequent
supplementary agreements on the reduction and limitation of
armaments, and to appoint for this purpose special Commission of
enquiry.' It will be noted that this follows almost word for word
Litvinov's proposal to the disarmament conference of 1932. [3]

(f) Paragraph 6. Recommendation to Security Council to formulate
plans for regulation of armament under Article 26.

(g) Paragraph 7. Calling Governments to assist the Security
Council, Military Staff Committee and Atomic Energy Commission,
and continuing substantially as in Soviet paragraph 4.

3. We understand that the Canadians do not propose to take
initiative but prefer United States to move amendment which they
would then support.

4. United States delegation has not yet crystallised its views but
is inclined to prefer the Canadian draft. They favour an amendment
designed to keep control of atomic energy distinct from
disarmament. They would prefer however, a simple reaffirmation of
the terms of reference of the Atomic Energy Commission stressing
the control and safeguards aspects rather than endorsement by the
Assembly of the United States proposals. This latter view which
has been approved by Byrnes is based on the following

(a) Some members of the Commission, e.g. France, might deny that
they 'supported' the United States proposal. The French delegation
in particular have shown extreme reluctance to oppose Soviet,
especially since recent election.

(b) The attempt to secure endorsement of the United States
proposal might be resented by some smaller countries not
represented on the Commission.

(c) The United States proposal has been interpreted in such varied
ways that a long debate would probably ensue which the Soviet
Delegates might use for further attacks on America's good faith.

(d) The USSR and its associates would in any case oppose strongly
and the amendment might secure only a bare 2/3rds majority even if
a slightly larger majority were secured, it would not greatly
strengthen the hands of the United States supporters in the

(e) The United States would prefer matter to come to a head in the
Commission rather than in the Assembly.

5. United States Delegation also attach great importance to the
principle that adequate international safeguards should be
incorporated in the system for general regulation of Armaments as
well as in atomic energy control.

6. In addition the United States delegation have made the
following tentative comments on the Canada draft, paragraph by

1. Stress on 'regulation' as against 'reduction' welcomed.

2. This pinning of responsibility on USSR to co-operate in the
Military Staff Committee is a useful point. Negotiation of Article
43 agreements would assist armament regulation plans. On the other
hand reduction in armaments would affect character of the
agreements. United States view is that planning for agreements and
for regulation of Armaments should proceed concurrently.

3. and 4. These meet the United States requirements discussed in
paragraph 4 and 5 above.

5. USSR might find difficulty in repudiating proposal by Litvinov,
although it was made a long time ago and it could be argued that
circumstances are now different. However, United States regard
investigations after a breach of the treaty is suspected as
inadequate and would prefer machinery through which United States
would be aware of attempts to violate agreement in the formative

6. No comment.

7. Agreeable.

7. We feel that although the Canadian additions would make the
amendment rather complex, they have the merit of covering the
whole field and would give a sound basis on which plans for the
regulation of armaments could be formulated. However, in order to
achieve objective envisaged in your UNY321 while taking into
account United States views stated in paragraph 4 above with which
we agree, we suggest that the following be added to paragraph 3 of
Canadian draft, 'the Assembly is of the opinion that since the
activities in the domain of Atomic energy leading to peaceful and
destructive ends are so intimately inter-related as to be almost
inseparable, the control of atomic energy to ensure its use only
for peaceful purposes, the elimination of atomic weapons from
National armaments, and the provision of effective safeguards to
protect complying States against the hazards of violations and
evasions must be accomplished through a single International
instrument or Treaty designed to carry out these related purposes
8. We are preparing composite draft which subject to your approval
we would propose to move as an Australian amendment. However,
before cabling the text we would be glad of your views on the
various points raised in this telegram. Debate on disarmament is
unlikely before 20th.

1 Dispatched 1 November. it proposed amending the Soviet proposal
on disarmament (conveyed in Document 186) by deleting paragraph 2,
renumbering paragraph 3 as paragraph 2 and including a new
paragraph 3 in which the General Assembly would express agreement
in principle with the proposals submitted to the Atomic Energy
Commission by the U.S. Geer and supported by other govts.

2 Document 187.

3 M. M. Litvinov, U.S.S.R. politician and diplomat. For a full
account of the World Disarmament Conference, see, for example,
Arnold J. Toynbee, Survey of International Affairs 1932, London,
1933, pp.192-300.

[AA:A1838/2, 852/10/4]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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