303. Memorandum of Discussion at the 258th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, September 8, 19551

[Here follow a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and discussion of agenda items 1–5.]

6. Antarctica (NSC 5424/1; Progress Report, dated July 13, 1955, by OCB on NSC 5424/12)

Mr. Anderson 3 briefed the Council and read from the latest Moscow radio broadcast dealing with the plans of the Soviet Government [Page 621] for an expedition to Antarctica in connection with the International Geophysical Year. He also emphasized the Planning Board’s judgment that recent Russian interest in Antarctica and other developments suggested the desirability of a review of U.S. policy toward Antarctica.

Dr. Flemming referred to the point made in the Progress Report that no single office or unit in the Executive Branch had been given responsibility for coordinating Government policies and programs with respect to Antarctica. He wondered, therefore, whether the NSC should refer the problem of organizing such a unit to the Bureau of the Budget and to the President’s Advisory Committee on Government Organization. However, Secretary Hoover pointed out that there was no real conflict or issue among the Government agencies over Antarctica. From the operating point of view this region was preponderantly a Defense Department responsibility, but actually cooperation among all the departments was going ahead so smoothly that Secretary Hoover could perceive no necessity for placing exclusive concern and responsibility for the affairs of Antarctica in any one Government department or agency. The OCB, he believed, was operating very effectively in this field. Dr. Flemming then said he would withdraw his proposal.

Governor Stassen 4 strongly supported the Planning Board’s recommendation for a review of NSC 5424/1, on grounds of what seemed to him the obvious fact that if the Soviets once got a foothold in Antarctica they would never abandon the region. Accordingly, he believed that the U.S. had better set forth its claims in this region before the Soviet expedition arrived.

Secretary Hoover commented that the trouble was that if the U.S. staked out formal claims, the situation in Antarctica might become more confused and worse than it was at present, with so many other friendly governments also making claims in the region.

General Cabell5 stressed the significance of the recent Soviet interest in Antarctica. It was, he said, by no means a mere passing interest or one solely in relation to the Geophysical Year.

The Vice President commented that all these points added up to the advisability of a review of this policy.

The National Security Council: 6

Noted and discussed the reference Progress Report on the subject by the Operations Coordinating Board.
Directed the NSC Planning Board to review the policy on Antarctica contained in NSC 5424/1.

[Here follows the remainder of the memorandum.]

S. Everett Gleason
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Series. Top Secret. Prepared by Gleason on September 15.
  2. Not printed. (Department of State, S/S-OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430; Antarctica— 5424/1)
  3. Dillon Anderson, Special Assistant to the President.
  4. Harold Stassen, Special Assistant to the President for Disarmament.
  5. Lieutenant General Charles P. Cabell, U.S.A.F., Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency.
  6. Paragraphs a–b below constitute NSC Action No. 1437. (Department of State, S/S-NSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95)