322. Memorandum for the Files, by the Officer in Charge of River Plate Affairs (Watrous)1


At the request of Ambassador McClintock (S/P), an interagency meeting was held on March 22 to discuss preparation of a position paper on the Antarctic for discussion by the NSC Planning Board on April 5. Present were:

  • State
    • Amb. McClintock, S/P
    • Mr. Crowley, BNA 2
    • Mr. Bane, UNP
    • Mr. Hewitt, L/UNA3
    • Miss Whiteman, L/ARA 4
    • Mr. Watrous, OSA
  • Defense
    • Mr. Ernst5
    • Mr. Zander
  • CIA
    • 2 Representatives

Ambassador McClintock opened the meeting by outlining the actions required by the Secretary’s request for an NSC review of the United States Antarctic policy, and asked Mr. Watrous to comment on events leading up to State’s letter of March 11 to Defense. The Ambassador then asked if Defense had arrived at a position.

Mr. Ernst replied in the negative, adding that because of the forthcoming NSC Planning Board Meeting, Defense had felt that the question should be referred to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said that several considerations had to be taken into account, such as the strategic importance of the Drake Passage, the presence or absence of minerals, and post-IGY activity. In response to Ambassador McClintock’s question about expenses in connection with any U.S. claim, Mr. Ernst indicated that Defense, because of a tighter budget and the low priority accorded the Antarctic vis-à-vis combatant forces, would be reluctant to defray much of the cost.

Mr. Ernst also said that Defense is interested in being able to move freely about Antarctica, and is wondering what effect a U.S. claim would have on other claims; should this result in the creation of walls around the several claims, he said, our making a claim would be contra-productive. In this light, he felt that some form of [Page 660] pooling, or condominium, might be explored, possibly on Australian initiative. The Indian proposal in the UN was also touched on briefly.

In reply to a question about the validity of claims, Miss Whiteman stated that to have a better claim a nation must have done more than other nations, and that no two claims were really equal.

Ambassador McClintock gave his opinion that we were actually faced with a diplomatic problem: to get the Russians out of Antarctica. He wondered whether a claim on our part would accomplish this.

The CIA representative said that in his judgement it was doubtful, and that it appeared that the Soviets were moving in the direction of remaining. He then reviewed the USSR’s recent position on Antarctica, with emphasis on its scientific and economic interests.

Ambassador McClintock then suggested, and it was agreed, that during the week ending March 29 papers should be drawn up on several aspects of the problem, and that after these had been exchanged and considered, another meeting should be held on April 2, at 3 p.m. In brief, papers were to be prepared as follows:

  • Defense: Strategic Considerations.
  • CIA: Probable Russian Reactions.
  • Amb. McClintock: NSC Summary.
  • Mr. Bane: UN Considerations.
  • Mr. Watrous: Positions of Other Claimants.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 101.2/3–2557. Secret.
  2. Edwin D. Crowley, a member of the Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs since May 1, 1955.
  3. Warren E. Hewitt, Attorney-Adviser in the Department of State.
  4. Marjorie M. Whiteman, Assistant Legal Adviser for Inter-American Affairs.
  5. Presumably Roger Ernst of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.