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Thursday, 1 August 1946

At present the veto power relates solely to a particular method of voting in reaching decisions of the Security Council on matters of substance as distinct from procedure. If any one of the five permanent members of the Security Council chooses to do so it can block a decision of the agreed majority (seven) of the eleven council members. Thus the socalled " veto " can only be exercised in the course of voting in the body of the Security Council by a permanent member in order to prevent a vote by seven members of the Council from becoming effective. It is erroneous to apply the term " right of veto " to decisions of the United Nations generally because it is only in relation to one of its organs that the right has been conferred. The right applies solely to the special circumstances of the operations of the Security Council and the possession of such a right in the Council does not give any claim to a similar veto in respect of the operation of any other international authority.

To some extent the recommendations of this commission will require review by the Security Council. In such review the veto may be exercisable according to the circumstances. In this commission itself no veto is exercisable unless we decide to introduce it, which is not contemplated. When the Assembly of the United Nations deals with the welfare aspects of atomic energy, no veto is exercisable. If in the end an international convention establishes a world atomic authority, the day to day administrative decisions of that body may or may not be subject to the veto system of voting. That is a matter for the consideration of this commission when it is reviewing the problem as awhole.

However, I think I should add that in my view nothing has been disclosed regarding the nature of atomic energy or of the possible functions of the proposed international authority on atomic energy to indicate why any particular nation or nations should be accorded the right of veto over the decisions of the agreed majority of the authority. Some lesser powers have important supplies of some materials; one large nation, the United States, has highly developed plants and very special technological knowledge; a number of other nations, large, middle-sized and small, have brilliant scientists; but none of these facts seems to me an argument for applying the special voting rule of the Security Council to the decisions of anew international authority. We should in any event, take this matter of the veto up only in conjunction with the general plan.

Functions of the International Authority.

The precise functions of the international authority will ofcourse need to be defined.

The authority should own, distribute and account for all fissionable material obtained from mines or used in plants. It should have responsible officers in every plant or mine capable of producing fissionable materials in appreciable quantities, and should undertake or procure a strict accounting of and access to all fissionable materials used in nondangerous operation. One of its functions should be to ensure equitable distribution of raw materials to all licensed users.

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