62. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Chairman of the National Security Council Under Secretaries Committee1 2


  • U.S. Policy on Antarctic Mineral Resources

The President has reviewed your memorandum of March 10, 1975, regarding U.S. Policy on Antarctic Mineral Resources, and has noted the views of the various agencies that contributed to the report. The President has decided that:

We should work with our Antarctic Treaty partners toward an internationally agreed arrangement for dealing with commercial exploration and exploitation of the mineral resources of the Antarctic, based on the principles established in NSDM 263. We should explore possible mechanisms including consideration of a new decision-making procedure which, inter alia, avoids the present rule of unanimity.
We should look toward a special regime for offshore mineral resources of the Antarctic, however, this could be reconsidered if warranted by developments in the Law of the Sea Conference or by discussions with our Antarctic Treaty partners.
We should continue our present interim policy of urging nations to refrain from commercial exploration and exploitation, pending an internationally agreed approach. Our interim policy would be reexamined if other parties to the Antarctic Treaty were to undertake precipitate action or if the prospects for arriving at an internationally agreed approach were determined to be remote.
The action plan called for in NSDM 263, including appropriate tactical positions, should be developed by the Antarctic Policy Group. The Group should also make more detailed examinations of the principles and alternative organizational and legal approaches applicable to a possible internationally agreed arrangement, the environmental consequences of exploration and exploitation and mechanisms for minimizing such consequences, U.S. interests in the living resources in Antarctic waters, and other relevant matters. For these [Page 2] purposes, the Antarctic Policy Group should include representatives of all interested agencies. Major unresolved policy issues should be reviewed by the Under Secretaries Committee.

Following the June Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and other appropriate consultations, a report should be submitted by the USC to the President on the prospects for reaching an acceptable agreement and recommendations for next steps.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential File of NSC Logged Documents, Box 17, 7501481, U.S. Policy on Antarctic Mineral Resources. Confidential. Scowcroft signed for Kissinger above Kissinger’s typed signature.
  2. The President confirmed established U.S. policy principles, international negotiating approaches, and interagency coordination procedures concerning Antarctic mineral resource extraction.