800.014 Antarctic/7–948: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Douglas) to the Secretary of State


3089. Shuckburgh [of] Foreign Office1 told us for background July 9 that immediately (Department’s instructions, 285, July 1 re Antarctic settlement2) prior June 25 Foreign Office had decided British Government should tell Argentine and Chilean Governments informally that if they would agree submit Antarctic claims to International Court, British Government would not press its claims to certain of disputed areas. He said South Shetlands and South Orkneys [Page 993] were areas Foreign Office contemplated trying to hold, yielding elsewhere. Matter had reached Cabinet level for approval but was withdrawn when Foreign Office learned of Department’s proposals of June 25.

He referred to Foreign Office’s telegram of July 2 to British Embassy Washington instructing it inform Department urgently that (1) Foreign Office welcomed Department’s proposals in general but considered Antarctica should not be placed under UN because of opportunities for trouble-making which would be afforded Russia, and (2) that Foreign Office would be prepared place all British-claimed Antarctica south of 60 degrees south latitude under Eight-Power control but that reservations would have to be made re all of South Shetland Islands except Elephant and Clarence Island groups. He mentioned that there had been insufficient time obtain Cabinet approval Foreign Office’s telegram of July 2.

He said he had heard nothing from British Embassy on this subject since July 2 and hoped there had been time for Department to reconsider UN aspect of matter before we informed Argentine Government.

He said British anxious find way of settling this dispute with Argentina and Chile in view of prospective repeated loss of prestige for Britain over this situation in future.

  1. Charles A. E. Shuckburgh, Head of the South American Department, British Foreign Office.
  2. Not printed, but see footnote 1, p. 987.