269. National Security Council Report1

NSC 5804/1


General Considerations

1. Antarctica is not readily accessible even during the brief Antarctic “summer”, and much of it has never been seen nor explored. It has no present economic value. It has assumed some strategic importance, particularly in the light of recent technological advances and increased Soviet activity. It has considerable importance for scientific purposes; our understanding of the physical structure of the world and its atmosphere will be materially advanced by data obtainable only in Antarctica. Moreover, Antarctica may have other potential values not now determinable, so that its importance could conceivably increase greatly with additional knowledge and new technical developments.

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2. Previous policy on Antarctica (NSC 5715/1, approved June 29, 19572) provided for diplomatic conversations with the Free World claimant countries for the purpose of (a) making known to them the U.S. intent to advance, at an appropriate time, formal claims to the unclaimed sector of Antarctica and to certain other areas in which the United States has rights derived from discovery, exploration or other activity; and (b) negotiating with them the possible extent of their and U.S. claims, the mutual recognition of claims, and the method of exercising sovereignty. In the absence of arrangements satisfactory to the United States with a particular claimant country, the United States would reserve its rights in the area presently claimed by that country. The United States was to refrain from announcing territorial claims or reservation of rights (a) until International Geophysical Year (IGY) considerations were no longer a major factor and (b) until after further review by the National Security Council; unless a claim by the USSR or other developments made the taking of immediate steps necessary or desirable.

3. The presence in the area of Soviet scientific expeditions in connection with the IGY is cause for concern as to possible further Russian activities. The Australian Foreign Minister has expressed the fear that under the guise of oceanographic research the Russians might arrange military facilities in Antarctica and thus constitute a possible threat to Australia’s security. Soviet expeditionary parties have already established scientific stations and semi-permanent installations in the area presently claimed by Australia, and there is evidence that they intend to remain in Antarctica after the IGY. In addition, prominent in the Soviet program are non-IGY activities, such as ground-controlled aerial photography, mapping, hydrographic charting, basic geology and biology, which were only incidentally a part of U.S. activities during the past season.

4. The seven countries which thus far have made formal claims to territory in the Antarctic region are the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, France, Argentina and Chile. There are two extensive unclaimed sectors: one extending between 90° and 150° West longitude, and the other poleward of the Norwegian claim between 45° East and 20° West longitude. The United States has important potential claims based on discovery, exploration, scientific and other activity, both within the other national claims and in the unclaimed sectors. The Soviet Union has not yet announced a claim, which might rest on the tenuous historical basis of a naval expedition under Von Bellingshausen in 1819–21. However, extensive Soviet activity in the area at the present time might give color to possible Soviet claims. In addition, the USSR has since World War II taken part in [Page 481] pelagic whaling in the area. Neither the United States nor the USSR has recognized the claim of other powers, or made claims of its own. However, the United States, on numerous occasions in diplomatic notes, and publicly, has expressed its policy of reserving all its rights in the area, and the USSR has officially asserted the right to participate in any territorial settlement.3 Japan, the Union of South Africa, and Belgium are participating in the IGY program in Antarctica, but have made no claims. Declaration of a claim by the United States or the USSR or other powers might precipitate additional announcements of claims by countries, such as the Union of South Africa, which have begun to show an increasing interest in the area.

5. In 1948 the United States approached the governments of the claimant countries with the suggestion that the promotion of scientific investigation in Antarctica and the solution of the problem of conflicting claims might be accomplished through some form of internationalization.4 This proposal was not well received by most of the claimant countries, and was not further developed, although it has not been officially withdrawn.

6. At the 1956 session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Indian Delegation sought to have the question of Antarctica placed on the agenda but later withdrew its proposal. It is possible that the Indians will again raise the issue at the next General Assembly. Apparently, the Indian Government believes that the Antarctic may become a ground of further international contention and thus contribute to a continuation of the cold war. If the issue is raised in the General Assembly, a trusteeship arrangement might be proposed as a means of resolving the claims problem. The United Nations, however, could not impose a trusteeship on a part or all of Antarctica in the absence of the agreement of the states directly concerned.

7. There are certain practical disadvantages to direct United Nations involvement in the administration of Antarctica, principal among which are:

Administration by a virtually universal organization such as the United Nations, most of whose members have no direct interest in Antarctica, would not be as efficient as administration by those countries having both experience and substantial interests in Antarctica.
Direct United Nations involvement might produce a kind of political maneuvering that could result in questions related to Antarctica not being decided exclusively on their own merits, but in relation to other considerations and other matters pending before the United [Page 482] Nations. The votes of certain states might, for example, be motivated by considerations quite apart from those relating exclusively to the best policy for Antarctica.
The usual and normal conditions for a United Nations trusteeship are totally absent. There are no permanent inhabitants of Antarctica—only a few isolated posts where the personnel is rotated. Accordingly, there is no problem of dependent peoples, aspirations toward independence, or the need for tutelage which occasionally has arisen for some dependent peoples living in underdeveloped areas of the world. Furthermore, any consideration of a trusteeship for Antarctica would run into such difficult and controversial aspects in the United Nations, as, for example, the naming of one or more countries to act as trustee, the extent of control by the General Assembly, and possible efforts to supervise the administration of the area that would not accord with the realities of the situation.
If it were decided to place Antarctica under a strategic trusteeship, making the Security Council the key UN body, the USSR would have the right to veto, which could be utilized to frustrate the establishment or operation of an equitable international administration in the area.
An effort to place the territory under United Nations administration is likely to produce greater resistance among those states which have asserted claims of sovereignty in Antarctica than would be the case if the administration were restricted to the claimants and only a very few others.

8. Recent widespread publicity in the press of the United States and many other countries regarding Antarctica, accentuated by the leak of certain tentative British proposals for internationalization, have given urgency to the need to reconsider U.S. policy on Antarctica. It would be unfortunate if other countries, friendly or unfriendly, were to come forward publicly with proposals which might complicate the problem of arriving at a solution favorable to U.S. interests. It would be desirable to reach prior agreement with at least the claimant countries as to the broad basis of an Antarctic settlement; and it would be useful for any proposals advanced by the United States to be of such a character that they could be made public in the near future without conflicting with the scientific activities carried on during the IGY.

9. As yet there is no common policy on Antarctica among the claimant countries and the United States. New Zealand and the United Kingdom favor some sort of internationalization. Australia, Argentina and Chile are reluctant to renounce sovereignty. It would be desirable to bring the positions of the claimant countries into line with U.S. policy prior to any formal public U.S. proposal.

10. The United States has a long history of discovery and exploration in Antarctica, commencing in the early part of the 19th century and continuing up to the present. On the basis of these activities, the United States has consistently reserved its rights in Antarctica, although [Page 483] it has refrained from making a formal claim to any specific territory. At the same time, the United States has never recognized the claims of other countries.

11. In the light of the foregoing, one possible course of action for the United States to pursue in protecting its rights and interests in Antarctica would be to assert specific territorial claims of sovereignty in Antarctica.5 Future circumstances might render this course of action advisable, but at present it has the following disadvantages:

If only the unclaimed area were claimed by the United States, no difficulties would arise with other claimant countries, but presumably any such claim would not be recognized by the USSR. The unclaimed area is a relatively small portion of Antarctica, and difficult of access by sea. Moreover, it is now reported that two-thirds of Marie Byrd Land may be below sea level.
If the United States were to make specific territorial claims in sectors already claimed by other countries, a number of practical difficulties might arise. The United States could logically support territorial claims in most if not all of the sectors now claimed by other countries. If this were done there might be a series of disagreeable controversies with a number of friendly countries. Furthermore, it would be difficult to define precisely the geographic limits of such claims by lines of latitude and longitude.
If the United States were to make specific claims throughout Antarctica, the result might be an apparent downgrading of U.S. rights in areas not claimed. The United States might be deemed to have less rights in other areas of Antarctica if it claimed superior rights in certain specific areas.
The problem of administering and defending U.S. sovereign soil in Antarctica might become complicated and expensive if the United States had a number of scattered claims over all the territory.
The assertion of U.S. claims might accentuate rivalries in Antarctica, and might provoke unwelcome initiatives by the USSR. Competition for the area would be intensified and costly.
In view of the general, though unofficial, understanding that political activities in Antarctica should be held in abeyance for the duration of the IGY, there might be much sentiment against positive action by the United States in Antarctica before 1959 if such action were identified with the assertion of territorial claims.
An attempt by the United States to extend its sovereignty over large portions of Antarctica might not be so well received in world opinion as a broader policy aimed at international cooperation.
The assertion of territorial claims does not appear to be necessary in order to achieve the basic objectives of U.S. policy, and might even be detrimental to these objectives.

12. As an alternative to the unilateral assertion of claims by the United States, the conclusion of a multilateral treaty—which would include provision for an Antarctica organization—among the countries having direct and substantial interests in Antarctica, including the USSR,6 might be a more effective method of achieving basic U.S. objectives. Such a treaty need not require any participating country to renounce whatever claims of sovereignty it may have asserted or to recognize all or any part of any other country’s claims. It could specifically provide that such claims would remain unaffected while the treaty is in force. In other words, the legal status quo in Antarctica would be frozen for the duration of the treaty, and the treaty would provide that no activities after the commencement or for the duration of the treaty would have any effect on such status quo. Accordingly, if at any time the treaty were terminated, the United States would remain in full possession of all of its basic historic rights in Antarctica. Cooperation in administrative matters could be carried out through an Antarctica organization in such a way as to minimize political difficulties. The proposed treaty would be deposited with the United Nations; periodic reports would be submitted to the Secretary General of the United Nations, and close working relationship established with specialized agencies of the United Nations. Such an arrangement, if effectively implemented, would:

Provide a firm and favorable foundation for a continuation of the productive international cooperation in the field of scientific activity which has thus far distinguished the IGY.
Provide an agreed basis for the peaceful and orderly administration of Antarctica during years to come.
Provide for effective measures to ensure that Antarctica be used for peaceful purposes only.
Lessen the possibility of that continent’s becoming the scene of international discord.

13. The designation of responsibilities within the Executive Branch for Antarctic matters depends to a large degree on the extent and direction in which the U.S. interest evolves. Current activities in Antarctica are being carried on under the direction of the Department of Defense acting as Executive Agent. The Department of the Interior is the agency in the Government normally concerned with the civil administration of areas under the jurisdiction of the United States. Some areas, however, are administered by other agencies; for example, the Canal Zone is supervised by the Secretary of the Army, and [Page 485] several islands in the Pacific, such as the Bonins, are administered by the Navy. The United States also acts for the UN in the administration of the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands.


14. Orderly progress toward a peaceful solution of the problem of Antarctica which would:

Prevent the use of Antarctica for military purposes.
Provide for freedom of scientific investigation throughout Antarctica by citizens, organizations and governments of all countries.
Guarantee freedom of access to Antarctica by citizens and organizations of all countries, under established uniform rules.
Establish uniform and non-preferential rules applicable to all countries and their nationals for any possible development of economic resources in the future.
In general, provide for an orderly joint administration of Antarctica7 by the countries directly concerned, on a non-preferential basis for all countries, and for peaceful purposes only.
Provide such relationship or association with the United Nations as would advance the preceding objectives.

Major Policy Guidance8

15. Attempt by secret advance consultation with the Free World claimant countries:

To reach agreement on the broad basis for an Antarctica organization9 which would have the objectives stated in paragraph 14 and would include the USSR.
To prepare the way for cooperative arrangements between the United States and any or all of the present claimant or other interested powers, in the event of failure to achieve such an Antarctica organization which includes the USSR.
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16. Consult as appropriate with countries other than the claimant countries, and with selected international organizations, for the purpose of avoiding an adverse reaction by them to the proposed Antarctica organization.

17. If the consultations under paragraph 15 result in general acceptance of the concept of an Antarctica organization, invite interested governments, including the USSR, to an international conference to conclude an agreement to accomplish the objectives in paragraph 14 and to set up the proposed Antarctica organization. At the same time state that while the United States has basic, historic rights in Antarctica, including the right to make a territorial claim or claims, the United States is refraining from making claims in the hope of reaching a constructive international solution, which will leave existing claims and rights unaffected while the proposed agreement is in force.

18. In the event of failure to achieve an acceptable Antarctica organization which includes the USSR, seek to achieve cooperative Antarctic arrangements (e.g., condominium, joint administration) between the United States and any or all of the claimant powers.

19. If required at any time for the protection of U.S. interests, claim the unclaimed area of Antarctica and reserve U.S. rights in the areas claimed by other powers or make claims in such areas as deemed appropriate.

20. In view of the scientific nature of IGY cooperation and the strength of Free World claims based on the pre-IGY period, support the principle that activities represented as participation in the Antarctic IGY program do not constitute a legal basis for the assertion of Antarctic claims.

21. a. Implement the current program reducing Antarctic activities in the post-IGY period to a minimum to support U.S. interests and to provide for a continuing U.S. presence in Antarctica.

b. If and when an Antarctica organization is established, to which the United States is a party, review the number of stations to be maintained by the United States in Antarctica.

c. In connection with such cooperative arrangements with other countries as may be worked out pending the establishment of an Antarctica organization, explore the possibility of effecting economies through joint operation.

22. As part of the program referred to in paragraph 21–a above, continue small-scale reconnaissance mapping and geologic studies in areas of maximum U.S. interest in the Antarctic.

23. The Department of Defense should continue as the Executive Agent of the United States Government through Fiscal Year 1959 in supporting scientific and other expeditions to Antarctica. The agency [Page 487] to administer any territory which the United States might claim or to participate in any joint administration which may be established in Antarctica should be designated at a later date.

Financial Appendix


Estimated Cost of the Proposed Policies

1. It is assumed that in the post-IGY period Ellsworth and Little America stations would be deactivated and that Wilkes Station would either be turned over to Australia or else deactivated. It is also assumed that the following network of bases would be retained:

McMurdo Sound

Cape Hallett



The annual cost of such a program is estimated as follows:

(Millions of Dollars)
Scientific costs 1.8
Direct support costs 5.8
Indirect support costs 7.3

2. Direct costs include all those expenses incurred as a direct result of the establishment and operation of the Antarctic bases. Examples of direct costs include transportation equipment, buildings, petroleum products used ashore, communications equipment, special clothing, and similar items required to establish and make a base operable. They also include costs of special equipment required by ships and aircraft for Antarctic operations, as well as the repair of damage incurred in such operations. Indirect costs include pay and subsistence of military personnel, fuel, routine maintenance of ships and aircraft, and other supporting costs, which have, in the past, been borne by the armed services.

3. In addition to the above costs, the first year of the program would require additional expenses incident to the expansion of the McMurdo Sound base to accommodate scientific facilities comparable to those at Little America. It is estimated that these additional first year direct costs would amount to .6 million dollars.

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4. The responsibilities of the Department of State with respect to Antarctica encompass the usual activities of the Department in any matter having an international impact. Neither the workload nor the cost resulting from these responsibilities can be segregated readily from the costs of other diplomatic and consular activities.

5. Upon the establishment of an international Antarctic organization, the U.S. would be expected to contribute a certain percentage of its annual operating costs. The amount of such costs and the portion to be borne by the U.S. cannot be determined at this time.

Annex A


1. The United States in 1948 explored without success the possibility of establishing a UN trusteeship over Antarctica. The United States thereafter suggested for consideration and transmitted to the seven powers a draft agreement proposing an international administration in the form of a condominium for the Antarctic whereby the parties would merge and join their claims to and interests in the area in a special regime which would cooperate with appropriate organs and specialized agencies of the UN. This approach was equally unsuccessful.

2. Arguments for establishing a joint administration for the Antarctic comprising the United States and the seven claimant powers would include:

Such a regime would have the advantage of placing the United States and the seven powers in a position to maintain that they had de jure right to and control of the Antarctic region.
At the same time, agreement on the part of the United States and the seven powers to cooperate with the appropriate organs and specialized agencies of the UN and to administer the Antarctic area in accordance with Article 84 of the Charter in the maintenance of international peace and security (both of which provisions were provided for in the 1948 agreement), would tend to blunt or reduce concern in and outside of the UN over the possible use of the Antarctic by the condominium powers for other than peaceful purposes.
The establishment of such a regime for the Antarctic would in no way preclude the United States and the seven powers from reaching agreement at a later time to apply voluntarily for the application of a UN trusteeship to the Antarctic area if they should so wish.
The conclusion of a joint administration would resolve the conflicting claims issue as between the seven claimant powers and would eliminate the necessity of the United States having to decide now upon the entirety of the area to which it might wish to lay claim in the Antarctic. As was contemplated in 1948, the United States, under such an arrangement, would lay claim to areas in the Antarctic to which it had right (presumably but not necessarily limited to the [Page 489] unclaimed areas), to place it on an equal footing with the seven powers. Thereupon the United States and the seven powers would merge and join their claims to and interests in the area in a special regime dedicated to administering and developing the area as a unit, not as individual segments. As matters stand now, the United States is reluctant to lay claim to areas in the Antarctic until it is in a position to ascertain more precisely all the areas to which it might wish to lay claim. By seeking a condominium agreement, the United States and the seven powers could move before Antarctica becomes a subject for continuing discussion in the UN and not be retarded by the conflicting claims issue. Under such an agreement, the announcement of a U.S. territorial claim would occur approximately simultaneously with the announcement of the conclusion of a condominium agreement.
A joint as distinguished from an individual country or segment approach to Antarctica would appear to be the most effective and least burdensome way financially to further scientific exploration and investigation of Antarctic phenomena. (This could be either a condominium or a trusteeship.)
There is no reason why an agreement between the United States and seven powers to establish a condominium over the Antarctic designed to facilitate the further development of the area in the interest of all mankind could not be presented as a dramatic Free World initiative. Access to the area for scientific purposes would be open to all members of the UN or specialized agencies; however, it would be subject to the controls and regulations promulgated by the joint administration.
Although the establishment of a condominium would not preclude the Soviets from claiming the right to participate in the administration of the area based on such claims as it might make, and while it would not force or necessarily bring about the withdrawal of Soviet personnel from the area, it would provide a basis for the United States and the present claimant powers to question the validity of the Soviet presence in the area.

3. Arguments against establishing a joint administration for the Antarctic comprising the United States and the seven claimant powers would include:

It is considered unlikely that the present claimant powers to territory in the Antarctic, particularly Chile and Argentina, could be persuaded to give up their individual “sovereign” rights even to a joint administration or condominium limited to the United States and themselves. However, it is thought that this could be presented to them as a more palatable alternative to UN supervision within the trusteeship system.
The Soviets and the Indians, for example, would likely attack in and outside of the UN a condominium proposal as inconsistent with IGY objectives and as an attempt to exclude all other countries from the area as a part of the development of the Antarctic as a Free World military base.
The announcement of the establishment of a condominium over the Antarctic would probably precipitate Soviet counter-action in the form of a claim to territory in the Antarctic. On the basis of this claim they might either seek participation in the condominium, or merely continue to administer their own zone.
The establishment of a condominium would not bring about or necessarily lead to the withdrawal of USSR personnel from the area or make the USSR more responsive to such control measures as might be promulgated by the condominium administration. The right of the USSR to maintain a military base within the area of its claim would be difficult to challenge on legal grounds, and could, as a practical matter, continue to be exercised whether challenged or not.

4. In the absence of an agreement on the part of all of the claimant powers to enter into a condominium over Antarctica in its entirety, it is possible that a condominium could be established over a part of Antarctica by those claimant powers favoring such action. Although arguments generally along the lines of those indicated in paragraphs 2 and 3 above could be made for and against the establishment of a condominium over a part of the Antarctic, a partial condominium would not serve to achieve the purpose of a united front and the benefits to be derived therefrom as reflected in paragraph 2 above. Moreover, a partial condominium would resolve the conflicting claims issue only as between those powers participating in the condominium.

Annex C


1. Means of establishing Antarctica Organization.

An Antarctic Organization would be established by treaty to which all states having a direct and substantial interest in Antarctica as of the date of this proposal will be invited to become parties.

2. Sovereignty.

States belonging to the Antarctic Organization would not be obliged to renounce any claims to sovereignty in Antarctica or to recognize all or any part of any other state’s claims. Nor would they be obliged to transfer whatever sovereignty they had to the Organization. They would, however, in the treaty to which they were party, turn over to the Organization administrative jurisdiction and control. In other words, the legal status quo with respect to Antarctica would be frozen at the commencement and for the duration of the Organization, and the treaty would provide that no activities after the commencement of and during the existence of the Organization would have any effect on such status quo.

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3. Principles governing administration.

The parties to the treaty would agree that the joint administration of Antarctica would be governed by the following principles, which would be implemented through an Antarctica Organization:

Encouragement and facilitation of international cooperation in the field of scientific activity for the maximum benefit of mankind.
Regulated development and utilization, in the general interest, of the natural resources of the Antarctic region.
Conservation, in the general interest, of renewable natural resources of the Antarctic region.
Effective measures to insure that Antarctica be used for peaceful purposes only. This shall not be interpreted to prohibit the use of military personnel and equipment, including naval vessels and military aircraft, for logistic support.
Any other peaceful purposes not inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.
Equality of financial contributions to the Organization by the member states.

4. Antarctica Organization.


Organization, membership and procedure.

The policy making body of the Organization would be the Governing Board. Each party to the treaty would have one delegate to represent it on the Governing Board and each delegate would have one vote. Decisions would be taken by majority or two-thirds vote. The position of chairman of the Governing Board would be rotated among the member states. An administrator, appointed by the Governing Board, would act as chief executive officer and, along with his permanent staff, would administer the detailed regulations promulgated by the Governing Board.


Functions and objectives.

The Antarctica Organization would have the general function of administering the territory of Antarctica in accordance with the principles set forth in para. 3 above.

5. Scientific activities.

The Governing Board would act primarily as an advisory and consultative body which would encourage cooperation in international scientific activities, provide helpful information and assistance, and generally facilitate the scientific expeditions of member states and other states to the greatest extent possible.

6. Economic policy.

Member states and non-member states, as well as their nationals, would be treated on a basis of equality. A state or one of its nationals could explore for and develop resources, subject to a license or concession and reasonable regulations of the Governing Board, which would include the requirement of paying a reasonable license or royalty fee. [Page 492] Such fees would be the same both for member and non-member states or their nationals. Primarily, the fee would be used to reimburse the Organization for its administrative expenses.

7. Ensuring peaceful use.

The Governing Board would be empowered to take steps to ensure the effectiveness of the provision for ensuring peaceful use of the Antarctic region, such as inspection of ships’ manifests, inspection of planes at points of landing, stationing of observers at specific locations, and aerial inspection to the extent practical.

8. Jurisdiction and law enforcement.

The Governing Board would be authorized to negotiate with the interested states mutually agreeable principles of jurisdiction and law enforcement, both criminal and civil. Pending agreement on these points, each state would have jurisdiction and law enforcement authority, both criminal and civil, over all matters involving their own nationals only. In matters involving the nationals of more than one state, the principles of jurisdiction and law enforcement to be applied would be determined by consultation between the Governments concerned.

9. United Nations.

To insure harmonious and mutually advantageous relations with the United Nations, the Governing Board would:

Submit informative reports from time to time to appropriate bodies of the United Nations;
Establish cooperative working relationships with specialized agencies of the United Nations having a technical interest in Antarctica.

Annex E

(Prepared by the Department of State)


The problem of possible Soviet participation in a joint administrative organization for Antarctica will arise when the time comes to invite10 certain countries to a conference for the purpose of establishing such an organization.

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There are reasons both for and against extending an invitation to the Soviet Union to participate in the proposed Antarctic conference:

Reasons for Not Inviting the Soviet Union

Such an invitation might be interpreted as a recognition of Soviet interests and rights in Antarctia, and thereby reinforce such rights as the USSR asserts unilaterally.
Inviting the USSR to participate in a conference on Antarctica might have adverse repercussions, at least initially, in some countries friendly to the United States.
Soviet participation in the conference might render it more difficult to reach agreement on the terms of a treaty satisfactory to the United States which would be intended to accomplish U.S. policy objectives.
Soviet participation in the conference would be logically followed by Soviet participation in any joint Antarctic administrative organization which might be established, and thereby render its smooth and effective functioning more difficult to achieve.

Reasons for Inviting the Soviet Union

Russian interest in Antarctica goes back to Admiral Bellingshausen’s voyage around Antarctica in 1819–1821. In recent years Soviet whaling activities in the Antarctic region have been important. Soviet scientific activities in Antarctica are extensive and are an important part of the long-range Soviet research program in the earth sciences. Even though it is held that such scientific activities constitute no valid basis for territorial claims or political action, the fact that the Russians apparently expect to continue being active in Antarctica beyond the end of the IGY will make it difficult to exclude them from any international settlement. Inviting the Russians to the conference would not bring them to the Antarctic, since they are already there. Failure to invite them would not cause them to leave.
The Soviet Union has consistently reserved all its rights in Antarctica since 1939. It has insisted on being included in any international settlement of the Antarctic problem, specifically in an official memorandum of 1950 addressed to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and France.
If the Soviet Union is not invited to participate in the proposed conference, it would presumably go to great pains to discredit the conference, both directly, and through activity in the United Nations. [Page 494] Inasmuch as the Soviet Union has a certain logical basis for participation in Antarctic matters, such agitation might meet with some success internationally.
Failure to extend an invitation to the Soviet Union would very likely result in an undesirable intensification of Soviet activities in Antarctica, because the competitive situation would be accentuated.
Failure to invite the Soviet Union to the proposed conference would be interpreted in some quarters as aggravating existing world tensions, and might alienate public opinion among the so-called “neutralists”. This in turn would again stimulate proposals for the United Nations to take over the administration of Antarctica. (While this latter solution might conceivably be better than no solution at all, it is believed that an Antarctic administrative organization limited to the relatively few states directly concerned would operate more efficiently, and likewise might be in a better position to prevent any undesired Soviet activities in Antarctica.)
Inviting the Soviet Union to the conference would not give it any legal status as a recognized sovereign power in Antarctica. The claimant states would maintain their claims of sovereignty, and the United States would not only continue to reserve its historic rights in Antarctica, but also, in the invitation to the conference, would have specifically and strongly reaffirmed such rights.
If the Soviet Union should participate in an Antarctic administrative organization established by a formal treaty as a result of the conference, it would be easier to observe and control its activities in Antarctica.
If the Soviet Union should participate in the proposed organization, it would be greatly outnumbered by nations friendly to the United States. There is no thought that it would have any veto power in such an organization.
  1. Source: Department of State, S/P–NSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Antarctica Subject File. Secret. NSC 5804/1 consisted of a cover page; memorandum of transmittal dated March 8, which stated that it had been approved by the President on that day; Table of Contents; Statement of Policy; Financial Appendix; and Annexes A–F. Only the Statement of Policy, Financial Appendix, and Annexes A, C, and E are printed here.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. xi, p. 692.
  3. By a Soviet Memorandum of 1950 to the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and France. See Annex D. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. The U.S. aide-mémoire, dated August 9, 1948, which constituted this approach, was attached at Annex F.
  5. Claims would be based on first sighting, exploration, mapping, occupation, and use, of those areas in which U.S. explorers have been active, from Palmer, in 1820, through the latest Deep Freeze Operation. Among the explorers who have advanced U.S. rights are the following: Palmer, Wilkes, Byrd, and Ellsworth, as well as recent explorers such as Dufek, Ketchum, and Ronne, and members of their parties. These areas include, in addition to Marie Byrd Land and the area south of the Norwegian claim, the Palmer Peninsula, Ross Ice Shelf, Wilkes Land, the American Highland, the South Pole, and various areas, interior and coastal, which have been flown over or mapped by U.S.-owned aircraft. [Footnote in the source text.]
  6. The reasons for including the USSR are set forth in Annex E. [Footnote in the source text.]
  7. A certain portion or portions of Antarctica may, if deemed to be in the U.S. interest, be excluded from the area of Antarctica subject to “joint administration” as contemplated in this policy. [Footnote in the source text.]
  8. NSC 5804 contained the following asterisk footnote at this point:

    “With regard to the Major Policy Guidance, the Joint Chiefs of Staff consider that:

    “(1) The United States should make preparations to claim all areas of Antarctica in which the United States has rights derived from discovery, exploration or other activity, and expeditious action should be taken to advance the U.S. claims.

    “(2) The organizational arrangement in the best interest of the United States would be one which excludes participation by the USSR in control of the area.

    “(3) An agreement among all the claimant nations in Antarctica may be difficult if not impossible to achieve, whereas an agreement among a smaller group might be achieved.” (Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Antarctica Subject File)

  9. See Annex C for a possible formulation of such an Antarctica organization. [Footnote in the source text.]
  10. If such invitations are issued, it is assumed that they will be extended to all the present claimant countries, i.e., Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Norway, France, Chile, and Argentina. If additional countries are invited to participate, both the Union of South Africa and the Soviet Union will have to be considered. (Possibly some thought should likewise be given to extending invitations to countries having a less substantial interest in Antarctica, such as Japan and Belgium.) Both the Union of South Africa and the Soviet Union have made known their desire to be included in any international settlement relating to Antarctica. [Footnote in the source text.]