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

Cablegram United Nations 273 NEW YORK, 12 July 1946, 11.19 a.m.


1. Evatt report [1] after reviewing terms of reference and working
methods of Committee number 1 stated the following three
principles must receive detailed consideration.

First. Whether it is desirable to negotiate international
convention dealing solely with outlawing atomic weapons and
destruction existing stocks or whether obligation not to make or
use such weapons should be included within the framework of the
general plan essential part of which should be effective system of
controls to ensure atomic energy employed for peaceful purposes
only. The opinion of the majority of the Committee favoured the
second alternative. The second: general type of international
controls and measures necessary for inclusion within the framework
of the general plan including in such controls establishment of
special international agency vested with executive power to
determine and enforce controls and also to promote the development
of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. The third: relationship
between organized measures for international control of atomic
energy and United Nations Organization particularly the Security
Council. As regards the first question, all members of the
Subcommittee agreed in principle that at the stage to be
determined international agreement not to produce or use atomic
weapons for purposes of war should be entered into. It was
contended by Soviet representative that such agreement should be
entered into immediately but majority (including U.S.A. which
alone possesses atomic weapons) were strongly of the opinion
(a) that mere convention outlawing use atomic weapons could not be
regarded as adequate especially having regard to past experience
of inefficacy of certain international pacts.

(b) that atomic weapons could and should be eliminated by direct
measures of inspection and control and,
(c) that system of control would make proposed convention largely
superfluous while ensuring carrying into effect of its disarmament
objectives. Convention unaccompanied by controls could not
possibly be regarded as sufficient to 'ensure' use of atomic
energy for peaceful purposes only. That objective could be
achieved only by effective controls and guarantees amounting to a
practical physical certainty that atomic bombs would not be used
for military purposes because they could not be brought into
existence. As between continuous and positive controls (including
inspection) and a mere convention to disarm (which at present
would apply in fact only against the United States) Assembly by
terms of its resolution implied preferred former course. That
course was in accordance with assessment of situation made by the
majority of the Subcommittee to arrive as rapidly as possible at
the stage where atomic weapons can be eliminated effectively and
permanently. It is essential to proceed with the detailed
preparation of adequate system of international control. United
States contention is that effective control can be ensured only by
establishment of atomic energy agency with broad powers of
ownership managerial control and super-vision leasing, licensing
and inspection found strong support. There was also considerable
support for view that this agency should,
(a) Have power to obtain complete control over or ownership of all
uranium thorium or other potential source of atomic energy.

(b) Empowered to conduct investigations and surveys of sources of
atomic energy.

(c) Own or rigidly control all facilities for production of U235
plutonium and such other fissionable materials as it determines to
be dangerous.

(d) Control such other facilities and activities in the field of
atomic energy as would be dangerous in other hands.

(e) Have free and unhindered access to and power to control
license and inspect all other facilities which possess utilize or
produce materials which are the source of atomic energy.

(f) Have exclusive right of research in the field of atomic

(g) Foster and promote non-dangerous use and wide distribution of
atomic energy for beneficial purposes under licenses or other
suitable arrangements that it may establish.

(h) Be authorized to make and issue such rules and regulations and
take such action as is necessary to accomplish the purposes
assigned to it. It is essential to proceed at once to a more
detailed examination of actual control measures and their
applications. What next should be considered are specific
proposals rather than statements of principle. When this is
completed it should be possible to make progress toward resolving
the difficult questions of the precise functions and powers of the
Atomic energy agency and its precise relationship with the organs
of the United Nations, in particular the Security Council.

Subcommittee generally supported the view that system of control
should be established by a single treaty which would define
obligations to be accepted by member states and at the same time
establish control agency and define its form of organisation
functions and powers so far as necessary. The same instrument
could define the relationship between the agency and various
organs of United Nations. Further study was required to define
exactly what relationship should be but control agency must be
constituted to act without undue delay. Difficult questions of
'sanctions' which atomic energy agency should be authorised to
impose, voting procedures within atomic energy agency and division
of functions between such agency and the Security Council must be
overcome. That could be done only by continuance of frank exchange
of views which characterised the work of the Subcommittee. The
Soviet suggested that it was unnecessary to confer enforcement
powers o[n] atomic energy agency because any necessary enforcement
action could be taken by the Security Council, while it was
generally recognised that the Security Council must retain its
defined executive powers so long as the charter of the United
Nations remained in the present form. It was in Evatt's opinion
legally and practically impossible for functions of the Security
Council to be enlarged in order to include the multifarious and
detailed executive decisions involved in administration of treaty
providing for control and development of atomic energy. The
Security Council had under the charter no executive powers of such
a character. Its Executive powers existed only in situations where
a threat to the peace breach of the peace or act of aggression had
been proved to exist. Urgent problem was to devise means by which
power may be given by treaty to atomic energy agency to control
and supervise atomic energy development in such a way that neither
threats to peace nor breaches of peace nor acts of aggression
could be caused by the employment of atomic weapons. In other
words objective was to make the control system so effective that
plans for violations or evasion whether of a major or minor
character might be detected at the earliest stages and prompt
measures taken for effective prevention. if however, control
system were in any particular case shown to be inadequate or
ineffective, machinery of Security Council could be invoked either
by a complainant state or if it were so agreed by atomic energy
agency whenever special situations mentioned in Chapter VII of the
United Nations Charter seemed likely to occur. Evatt endorsed
Baruch statement on veto but did not interpret it as a demand for
amendment of Charter in relation to voting. When the Security
Council is dealing with imposition of sanctions under Chapter VII
in point of fact such amendment would be legally impossible
without consent of each permanent member. The final solution would
be preparation for submission first to the Security Council and
eventually to the United Nations of a multilateral treaty
embodying four vital subject matters i.e.

(a) An overall plan for international control of atomic energy and
its development for peaceful purposes.

(b) The Charter of an international atomic energy agency with wide
powers to administer the plan and put it into effect.

(c) Obligations by member states not to use atomic energy for
purposes of destruction and,
(d) Terms and conditions under which several parts of the plan
shall become operative in just and equitable sequence.

The broad principle advocated so strongly by Baruch would be
carried into substantial effect provided it were understood from
the outset that every party to the atomic energy treaty would be
subject to rules of conduct laid down either in the treaty itself
or by International control agency established by such treaty. it
followed from the same principle of rule of law that no system of
veto could possibly be permitted in the procedure of atomic energy
agency simply because that would mean a right or privilege to
claim a special immunity or exemption from the rules and
regulations of conduct, thus subverting the main purposes of the
overall plan for such reasons. Each and every nation entering into
the atomic energy treaty must be bound by all its obligations.

Binding effect of system of international controls could be evaded
either by including in proposed treaty provisions for granting
such immunity to one or more nations or by conferring on the
Security Council additional function of administering control
system. Both were inadmissible and unlikely to secure general
acceptance in order to carry out principles of Baruch proposals
and mandate given to the atomic energy commission by Assembly. A
special international agency for atomic control and development
would have to be established by multilateral treaty, such agency
being vested with administrative and executive powers and being
made responsible to the Signatory nations and also brought into
special relationship with the United Nations Organization.

1 i.e. the report indicated in Document 22

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