Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs (Hulley)

Participants: Mr. Rodriguez A., Minister Counselor, Chilean Embassy
Mr. Owen—NWC1
Mr. Hulley—BNA
Mr. Hilliker—BNA

Mr. Rodriguez asked to come in to talk about the question of an Antarctic modus vivendi and the Soviet memorandum concerning Antarctica of June 9. [8?]2

Mr. Rodriguez had with him the Spanish text of a draft press release which he said the Chilean Foreign Office planned to release very shortly.3 Mr. Owen translated the announcement into English. I asked Mr. Rodriguez if he had seen the Argentine reply to the Soviet note along these lines.4 He replied that he had not. As his [Page 918] own Impression and emphasizing that he had no official information, Mr. Rodriguez said he thought that the replies would be quite similar because of the custom of consultation on this question by Chile and Argentina. I thanked him for making the announcement available to us in advance.

Mr. Rodriguez then said that the Chilean Antarctic Commission had been studying our revision of the original Chilean draft of a modus vivendi declaration on the Antarctica and had come up with a new draft which included certain changes from ours “more of form than of substance”. In as much as this draft was in Spanish, he mentioned the following points of difference:

The Chilean Government feels strongly on the desirability of including the paragraph on “fishing” (presumably including Whaling). Mr. Rodriguez pointed out, however, that the aim was to prevent the imposition of taxes or other levies on fishing activities in the area and would, therefore, not duplicate the terms of the Washington Whaling Convention which dealt more with the question of conservation.
The Chilean Government wished the International Commission contemplated under the modus vivendi declaration to be a consultative or advisory body with restricted powers.
It should be emphasized that any agreement should leave Chilean sovereignty in the Antarctic unimpaired. Mr. Rodriguez said that Chilean public opinion would not permit any other course.
The agreement should be valid for eight years and renewable from year to year thereafter unless one of the signatories wished other-wise. The chairmanship would rotate among the eight countries each year.

Mr. Rodriguez noted that the draft agreement as a whole was modeled on an agreement of 1908 among Russia, Germany, Denmark and Sweden for the maintenance of the status quo in the Baltic.

The Chilean Government would prefer that the seat of the Consultative Commission be in Chile or alternatively in the United States but “nowhere else”.

Mr. Rodriguez said that the procedure of presenting the draft agreement to the other countries could be left for later discussion. He confirmed my understanding, however, that the Chileans would somewhat prefer that the proposal be circulated by the United States, making clear that it was the result of Chilean initiative.

I expressed appreciation of the Chilean effort and said we would study the draft with the other interested Divisions of the Department. I remarked that the result would probably be something put forward [Page 919] as the basis for discussion, even though not exactly what we might want.5

  1. George H. Owen of the Office of North and West Coast Affairs, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
  2. Ante, p. 911.
  3. In a declaration made public on September 12, 1950, the Chilean Government took note of the Soviet communication of June 8 to the United States and six other countries regarding the Antarctic, reiterated the traditional Chilean policy that only Chile and Argentina had rights in the “American Antarctic,” and asserted that the claim to territory in the Antarctic by the USSR had no basis in fact and was inadmissible. The text of the Chilean declaration, as it appeared in the Santiago newspaper La Nacion, was transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 259, September 12, from Santiago, not printed (702.022/9–1250).
  4. In a note of August 25, 1950, the text of which was released for publication on August 30, the Argentine Government replied to the Soviet memorandum of June 8. The Argentine note asserted that the “Argentine Antarctic” and neighboring archipelagoes were Argentine national territory not subject to any general regime which might be set up for the Antarctic continent, that the “Argentine Antarctic” forms part of the “South American Antarctic” which belongs exclusively to the jurisdiction of Argentina and Chile, and that the claim of the USSR was unacceptable. The text of the Argentine note was transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 301, August 30, from Buenos Aires, not printed (702.022/8–3050).
  5. The Chilean redraft of the proposed Antarctic modus vivendi under discussion in this memorandum of conversation is attached (in Spanish and English translation) to the source text. The American draft of the proposed modus vivendi to which it responded is printed ante, p. 905. In mid-October 1950 officers of the Department of State had prepared a new draft of the modus vivendi responding to the Chilean redraft discussed here. The new American draft was submitted to the British Embassy on October 26, and in mid-November and early December the British Embassy transmitted to the Department of State a series of suggestions and comments on the draft from the Foreign Office.