Memorandum by the Officer in Charge of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs (Hulley) to the Director of the Office of North and West Coast Affairs (Mills)


Subject: Antarctica

Pursuant to the policy decision as reported in NSC 21/1 dated August 30, 1949,1 we are now ready to take up with the Chilean Embassy here the appropriate manner of bringing their proposal for an Antarctic modus vivendi,2 as revised by us, before the interested countries for discussion. (Our draft3 has been given informally to the British and has been modified to meet the substance of their comments. Of course, this should not be mentioned to the Chileans.)


It is recommended that you ask the Chilean Counselor, Mr. Rodriguez,4 to come in to discuss this subject. It is suggested that you repeat to him what Mr. Miller said to the Chilean Foreign Minister in October, as follows: that the US has given careful consideration to the Chilean proposal for a modus vivendi for Antarctica; that in present circumstances we believe that this is a most useful approach to the problem; that while we view favorably the substance of the Chilean proposal, we have a number of suggestions which we hope the Chilean Government will study sympathetically and find itself in a position to accept.5

It is suggested that you hand Mr. Rodriguez the text of our draft for a modus vivendi, with the comment that our suggestions are embodied therein and will be clear to him upon comparing it with the original Chilean draft. There is probably no necessity to discuss the differences between the Chilean draft and ours. However, it might be suggested that we will be glad to discuss them with him at any time. It might be pointed out that one change from the Chilean draft is the omission of the subject of whaling, which, as we have said [Page 908] before, we feel is a problem separate from Antarctic territorial questions and appropriately to be handled through the international whaling convention.

Although our draft is intended as a basis of discussion, we hope of course that the Chilean Government will be able to accept the suggestions it embodies. We will welcome the Chilean Government’s informal comments on our draft and we would like informally to have their views as to the appropriate method of bringing the proposal for a modus vivendi to the attention of the other governments concerned. We are inclined to be guided by the Chilean preference in this matter. We see two possible methods: 1) That the Chilean Government present its proposal, which we would hope could be modified in line with our draft, to the governments concerned. We would somewhat prefer this method. 2) If the Chilean Government prefers, we are prepared to give them our draft with a reply to their aide-mémoire of October 7, 1948 (to our Embassy in Santiago),6 giving copies to the other governments concerned and suggesting that the Chilean suggestion as embodied in our text be made the basis for further discussion among the interested countries.

Should Mr. Rodriguez inquire, it is suggested that you tell him that we will be informing the British confidentially of our discussions with Chile on this subject, but that we do not plan to mention it to anyone else for the present.7

B[enjamin] M. H[ulley]
  1. Under reference here is a memorandum of August 29, 1949, by the Secretary of State for the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council, circulated to the Council as NSC 21/1, August 30, 1949; for text, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. i, p. 804.
  2. During 1948 the Chilean Government offered a plan (modus vivendi) under which nations interested in Antarctica would freeze current legal rights and interests for a period of 5 or 10 years and reach an agreement for scientific cooperation. For materials on the Chilean proposal and the United States response thereto, see ibid., 1948, vol. i, Part 2, pp. 962 ff.
  3. See supra.
  4. Mario Rodriguez A., Chilean Minister-Counselor.
  5. During a visit to Chile in October 1949, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Edward G. Miller, Jr., conferred with Chilean Foreign Minister German Riesco on the Antarctic question. For documentation regarding the visit, see Foreign Relations, 1949, vol. i, pp. 793 ff.
  6. In the communication under reference here, not printed, the Chilean Government rejected an American proposal for the internationalization of the Antarctic by trusteeship and condominium. For the text of the communication, see telegram 667, October 8, 1948, from Santiago, Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. i, Part 2, p. 1009.
  7. In a conversation with Chilean Minister-Counselor Rodriguez on January 5, Director Sheldon T. Mills presented a copy of the American draft of the proposed Antarctic modus vivendi (supra) and outlined Department of State views as presented in this memorandum. Caspar D. Green of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs went over the same points in detail in a conversation with Rodriguez on January 9 (memoranda of conversation by Caspar D. Green, January 5 and 9, 1950, 702.022/1–550 and 702.022/1–950).