317. Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom) to the Secretary of State 1

SUBJECT

  • Progress Report on NSC 5424/1 (Antarctica)

The Progress Report covers the period January 12, 1956 through August 8, 1956. It summarizes the principal developments in the Antarctic and finds our present policy to be adequate for the period under review.

Two developments of significance have occurred since August 8 cut-off date.

(1)
(2)
The Indian Government withdrew at the last minute the item on Antarctica which they proposed for inscription on the agenda of the present General Assembly. Under this item the Indians had in mind obtaining a United Nations proclamation-type resolution under which member governments would affirm their intention to use the Antarctic for peaceful purposes only, having in mind particularly the possible use of Antarctic regions as sites for nuclear experiment. In withdrawing the item Mr. Krishna Menon explained that his Government was doing so in order to have time to prepare the item better and to persuade other governments of its importance. It may be assumed, therefore, that the Indians may well re-introduce the subject at a subsequent meeting of the General Assembly. [Page 653] Hence, while the problem referred to in paragraph 8 of the Progress Report has lost its immediacy, it remains as a problem which is likely to arise in the future.

The portion of the Report of most direct interest to the Department of State is the section contained under paragraph 3 (c) having to do with the negotiation of an agreement among the United States and free-world claimants to territory in the Antarctic. Events during the period under review have not made necessary any formal agreement to maintain existing cooperative relationships in the region. With respect to relations between the UK, Argentina and Chile, which have conflicting claims in the Antarctic, these three Governments on November 21, 1956 renewed their annual agreement not to send warships into the area during the current Antarctic season except for the customary movements. This should minimize the most likely source of friction among the free nations in the region.

Recommendation: That at an appropriate opportunity during the course of consideration of the Report you mention the action taken by the Indians in withdrawing their agenda item.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/S–NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 5424 Series, Memoranda. Secret. Drafted by William G. Bowdler of the Office of Inter-American Regional Political Affairs. Cleared by EUR, FE, IO, and L.