318. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Wilcox) to the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Rubottom)1


  • Progress Report on NSC 5424/1 (Antarctica)

Although IO does not consider that the Progress Report on Antarctica prepared by ARA dated December 4 presents fully the UN aspect of this matter, it is prepared to concur on the understanding that it will have an early opportunity to set forth its views in connection with the Department’s presently contemplated basic review of US policy on Antarctica.

Although the Indians withdrew their item on Antarctica from the provisional agenda of the present GA session, we anticipate that further efforts will be made to raise this item at the 12th GA and we [Page 654] do not believe that we can exclude the possibility that this item might be inscribed. Inasmuch as UN consideration of Antarctica may have an important bearing on the future course of US action in that area, IO considers that present US policy objectives in Antarctica should be reviewed in light of this possible eventuality. We believe it likely that UN consideration of Antarctica will inevitably tend to focus attention upon the political aspects of the Antarctica problem. On the one hand, such a development could tend to make it increasingly difficult for the US to depart from its present reserved position and begin the implementation of a national claims policy. On the other hand, UN consideration might tend to reinforce and give moral support to the US policy of reserving its position on national claims and would leave the US free to explore once again, if it should decide to do so, a policy of internationalization along lines taken in 1948 as perhaps offering the best means of limiting the activities of our more probable enemies in that region and of resolving the conflicting claims issue.

In considering our position on this item for the present or 11th GA session, it became apparent that some more precise indication as to the future course of US action in the Antarctic region was needed in order to insure that US handling of this question in the UN would neither tend to predetermine nor tend to run counter to whatever course of action the US might eventually wish to adopt. As matters presently stand, there is no indication that the US is contemplating the adoption of a policy calling for the announcement of official territorial claims in the Antarctic; on the other hand, the US has neither reaffirmed nor rejected publicly or to the seven friendly power claimants to territory in the Antarctica the position it took in 1948 favoring the establishment of an international regime in Antarctica.

  1. Source: Department of State, UNP Files: Lot 62 D 170, Antarctic General Correspondence, Book I. Drafted by David Bane; copy sent to Bowdler.