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Historical documents

132 Cablegram From Department of External Affairs to Embassy in Washington

Cablegram, Canberra, 28 April 1952


Your telegram 563.[1]

Tripartite Security Treaty.

1. Following is substance of statement to be made by the Minister following deposit of instruments of ratification.

1. It is not a military alliance of the old type but purely defensive agreement designed to give a formal character to those understandings of mutual support which have so long existed between 3 pacific neighbours.

2. It is squarely within the framework of the United Nations.

3. The precise action to be taken by each party in the event of an armed attack is not specified. There is no obligation on Australia (New Zealand) to make any immediate formal declaration of war; the United States for its part could not constitutionally accept such a binding obligation.

4. The obligations though not specified are none the less real, a duty to consult whenever a threat develops, a duty to act to meet the common danger if an armed attack occurs.

5. It is not so much the wording which matters as the determination of the parties to resist aggression and through self-help and mutual aid to be prepared.

6. We have given much thought to the way in which the Council should be organised and the scope of its work - important that thorough preparation should be made for the first meeting of the Council.

7. The Treaty will not in any way weaken or diminish the close ties of kinship and co-operation which bind Australia to other members of the British Commonwealth. Hope is rather that to our intimate association with the British Commonwealth we may add an equally intimate association with our Pacific ally the United States of America.

1 23 April. Spender informed Casey that he proposed to issue on 28 April a brief statement drawing to attention the coming into force of the tripartite Security Treaty and sought in advance the text of any statement which Casey proposed to make.

[NAA : A1838, TS532/11]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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