Abstract In the autumn of 1959, twelve nations internationalized and demilitarized Antarctica with the creation of the Antarctic Treaty. Two articles of the Antarctic Treaty combined to ban nuclear weapons, nuclear tests, nuclear explosions, and the dispersal of radioactive waste in the continent, making Antarctica the first “atom-free zone” in the world. This article argues that no nation opposed the establishment of Antarctica’s atom-free zone more than the United States, which desired to preserve its right to scientific exploration through the use of “peaceful nuclear explosions” (PNEs). But fearful of the environmental impact of Antarctic PNEs on their populations, southern hemispheric nations pressured the United States to concede on the Antarctic nuclear question. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union’s mercurial behavior over the issue threatened to derail the Antarctic Treaty. Questioning its own rationale for PNEs in Antarctica and desiring to reap Cold War propagandist, geostrategic, and tactical benefits from a completed Antarctic Treaty, in the end the United States foreswore the right to PNEs in the continent. *** Even tho [sic.] I was born an American I know this country has a naturalization law, and so have many other countries, but what I want to know is how to become a penguin. Penguins evidently are more important than people, because 12 nations have agreed not to have any nuclear wars in the Antarctic. Penguins will need no shelters, need fear no fall-out, and wear nice clothes, too. Where can I learn to speak penguinese? ∼E. PLURIBUS UNUM1 From October 15 to December 1, 1959, the United States hosted delegations from eleven nations around the world in order to ensure a peaceful future for Antarctica. The Washington Conference, as the gathering became known, produced the 1959 Antarctic Treaty that internationalized and demilitarized Antarctica, thereby freezing competing territorial claims and preserving the continent for scientific exploration. But from the U.S. perspective, the Antarctic Treaty had at least one unintended consequence: it made Antarctica the first “atom-free zone” in the world.2 Article I of the Antarctic Treaty banned “any measures of a military nature” from the continent, while Article V banned nuclear explosions and the dispersal of radioactive waste in the continent, consequent to the conclusion of a more encompassing international agreement on nuclear energy to which all Treaty members also adhered.3 Article V proved to be one of the most contentious issues within the Washington Conference and the last to be resolved. This article utilizes multinational archival sources to examine the role played by the United States in the creation of Antarctica’s atom-free zone. In doing so, it fills a gap in the historiography of nuclear and Antarctic studies. Despite becoming the first regional nuclear nonproliferation agreement in history, the Antarctic Treaty has remained generally absent in the literature on arms control during the Eisenhower administration.4 More attention has been paid to the creation of Antarctica’s atom-free zone in the study of Antarctica’s history, but previous accounts have not addressed the topic satisfactorily. Geographer Paul Arthur Berkman mistakenly views the nuclear superpowers as benignly cooperative leaders behind the creation of Antarctica’s atom-free zone, while historian Jason Kendall Moore glosses over the issue of nuclear explosions despite its centrality to the continent’s denuclearization.5 In emphasizing the agency of Southern Hemispheric actors, historian Adrian Howkins provides the best account of the continent’s denuclearization to date. But ultimately his work, like many others, is more concerned with chronologies and trends beyond the atom-free component of the Antarctic Treaty.6 This article adds new insight into U.S. thinking on the negotiations for Antarctica’s atom-free zone within the broader Cold War and nuclear arms race. It argues that the United States initially opposed the creation of an atom-free zone in Antarctica because it sought to avoid restrictions on its peaceful activities in the continent, and especially its right to conduct “peaceful nuclear explosions” (PNEs) for scientific purposes. Yet fearing the environmental impact of Antarctic nuclear explosions on their populations and with an eye to domestic public opinion, Antarctica’s neighboring nations, all of which were formal or de facto U.S. Cold War allies, exerted pressure on the United States to concede on the nuclear question. Argentina in particular influenced U.S. thinking; it was the first nation to introduce the nuclear question into the Washington Conference proceedings, and by mid-November refused to agree to an Antarctic treaty if it did not satisfactorily address the issue of nuclear explosions. But it was the mercurial behavior of the Soviet Union more than anything that galvanized the United States into accepting an atom-free zone for Antarctica. Questioning its own rationale for PNEs in Antarctica and desiring to reap Cold War propagandist, geostrategic, and tactical benefits from a completed Antarctic Treaty, the United States foreswore the right to PNEs in the continent in order to bring about its creation. Overall, in the six weeks it took for the Antarctic Treaty to be negotiated, the United States went from opposing the creation of an Antarctic atom-free zone to trying to get all nations within the Washington Conference to agree to one. Attempts to Avoid Antarctic Denuclearization In the mid 1950s, the prospect of nuclear testing in Antarctica elicited both interest and fear around the world. In 1954, Walter Sullivan, the science editor for The New York Times, wrote of the desirability of nuclear testing in Antarctica given the absence of an indigenous human population and the presence of only a few species of flora and fauna.7 Sullivan found that the topography of Antarctica offered advantages for data collection—“a smooth blanket of snow ready to preserve for later observation the effects of the weapon; at sea such evidence is dissipated in the water,” he observed. The remoteness of Antarctica also offered the possibility that the Soviet Union would be unable to detect U.S. nuclear tests through air sampling techniques.8 Others feared the potential for radioactive fallout and climate change. In February 1955, a Soviet newspaper put forth the idea that the United States intended to test nuclear weapons in Antarctica. By March, the rumor had gained such traction in Santiago, Chile that many believed the United States had produced a nuclear weapon so powerful that it could only be tested in the continent.9 Local publications in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile spread worrisome rumors for weeks that Great Britain and the United States intended to test hydrogen bombs in Antarctica. One retired Chilean colonel stoked local concern when he declared that such tests would “contaminate all of Chile and subject it to catastrophic hurricanes, tidal waves, and other devastations.”10 In February 1956, India became the first nation to suggest, as part of a larger internationalization and demilitarization proposal, that nuclear tests and explosions be banned from Antarctica. No nuclear tests or explosions had ever occurred in Antarctica nor were any planned, but India reasoned that the intense preparations made by certain nations for the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–1958, an eighteen-month global undertaking in scientific exchange between sixty-seven nations, signaled an interest in the use of Antarctica for military activities.11 Indian officials emphasized to the United States and other nations with a presence in Antarctica that the continent could soon “become a field for international war which in the atomic age would be disastrous. Even atomic experiments and explosions in this region may have very harmful results on the climate of the whole world.”12 India especially feared that nuclear explosions in Antarctica could dislodge the polar icecap and change weather patterns enough to stop the monsoon.13 The United States believed that India’s larger vision for Antarctica threatened its geopolitical interests in the continent and beyond. Specifically, it viewed the Indian proposal to negatively impact U.S. allies with territorial claims in Antarctica, and feared that a U.S. vote against the Argentine and Chilean claims in the continent would turn the entire Latin American voting bloc within the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) against future U.S. initiatives. Although the United States had never laid claim to territory in Antarctica, it disliked the potential for the Indian proposal to restrict future U.S. activities in the continent and to serve as a precedent for other disputed territories around the world.14 But the nuclear component of India’s Antarctic vision placed the United States in a difficult position. While the United States found that India’s environmental concerns over Antarctic nuclear tests were “not supported by any known scientific evidence,” it shared the Indian desire to ensure the peaceful uses of Antarctica moving forward. The United States made private assurances to Indian officials that it had no plans at “present” [emphasis in original] to test nuclear weapons in Antarctica, but understood that such an empty promise would likely not suffice in quelling the Indian initiative. Voting against India’s proposal at the UNGA, should it reach there, did not seem to offer a better alternative, as it would “weaken the present [U.S.] position on nuclear testing in the Antarctic, lend credence to the Indian concern that [the United States] may be contemplating the use of Antarctica for nuclear testing later on, and stimulate further and more determined Indian efforts in this regard.”15 In the end, under pressure from nations with territorial claims in Antarctica, India never introduced its proposal at the UNGA.16 By January 1958, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and State Department concluded that U.S. policy towards Antarctica demanded “serious and urgent study.” Fears persisted that the United States lagged behind the Soviet Union in a race for Antarctic supremacy. The impending expiration of the IGY on December 31 seemingly made matters worse. The IGY temporarily froze the formal territorial claims made by seven nations (Argentina, Australia, Chile, Great Britain, France, New Zealand, and Norway) in Antarctica, but it had also heightened the Soviet presence in the continent. Now the Eisenhower Administration feared that its expiration would expose Antarctica to territorial claims by the Eastern Bloc.17 The JCS and State Department divided over the proper course of action. The JCS believed that any gain for the Soviet Union in Antarctica was a loss for the United States. They recommended that the United States push to assert all claims over Antarctic territory to which it may have cause. One general even thought that the United States should apply the Monroe Doctrine to Antarctica to legitimate U.S. presence in the continent, until it was pointed out to him that much of Antarctica fell within the Eastern Hemisphere.18 The State Department, led by Special Advisor on Antarctic Affairs Paul C. Daniels, pushed to include the Soviet Union in a demilitarized Antarctica under international stewardship. Daniels believed that the assertion of U.S. claims in Antarctica would alienate the United States from its Cold War allies and within the United Nations (UN). He also believed that it would do nothing to stem Soviet ambitions or capabilities in the continent.19 Secretary of State John Foster Dulles agreed, and convinced a reluctant JCS to forego confrontation in order to secure an Antarctic future favorable to the United States.20 On March 24, the State Department delivered an aide-mémoire to eleven nations (the seven claimant nations and Belgium, Japan, South Africa, and the Soviet Union) requesting a conference on Antarctica from which a multilateral governing treaty committed to the peaceful uses of the continent would be created. The United States justified its selection of nations on the grounds that they had been the most involved in the IGY.21 Eisenhower followed up with a formal invitation in early May, and all invitees accepted.22 In the intervening years between the 1956 Indian proposal and the 1959 Washington Conference, there emerged the concept of “atom-free,” “denuclearized,” or “nuclear-free” zones, the meanings of which were interchangeable. In theory, proposals for such zones looked to ban nuclear weapons from specified geographic areas and thus remove those regions from the nuclear dangers of the Cold War. But the earliest iterations of atom-free zones emanated almost exclusively from the Eastern Bloc as geostrategic and propagandist weapons with which to wage the Cold War. With little hesitation, the United States rejected denuclearization schemes for contested regions like the Balkans and Central Europe in order to maintain the European balance-of-power and the defense of its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies against Soviet superiority in conventional forces.23 There is no evidence that proposals for atom-free zones in the late 1950s had any effect on the negotiations over Antarctica, and no nation mentioned a specific desire to make Antarctica an atom-free zone in the mold of proposals elsewhere around the world. The regulation of Antarctic nuclear activities received only cursory attention during the yearlong informal preparatory sessions to the Washington Conference, in part due to “a feeling by some representatives that if such a subject were raised it might result in a deadlock which would obstruct the holding of the conference.”24 Still, the United States found the Antarctic nuclear question troublesome by the time of the October 1959 Washington Conference. The State Department believed that enumeration of the peaceful uses of Antarctica would impair the ability of the Defense Department to operate peacefully in the continent (as later guaranteed by Article I of the Antarctic Treaty) and could lead to unnecessary tensions with the Soviets moving forward. Thus, it advised the U.S. delegation to the Washington Conference to “attempt to avoid an express prohibition of nuclear weapons on the grounds that, as a practical matter, such activity is necessarily included in the general prohibition of nonpeaceful [sic.] activities.”25 The official U.S. delegation to the Washington Conference consisted of thirteen members, including embassy officials, congressional advisors, a Defense Department advisor, and State Department regional and scientific specialists, although other experts and advisors also participated.26 Daniels served on the U.S. delegation, but wielded noticeably little influence over the proceedings.27 Instead, Herman Phleger, a San Francisco-based attorney and former legal advisor for the State Department, served as head of the U.S. delegation and chairman of the Washington Conference. More than anyone, Phleger and his State Department superiors shaped U.S. policy towards the emerging Antarctic Treaty. The U.S. delegation did not have to deal with the issue of nuclear weapons testing at the Washington Conference because the issue was never up for debate—from the beginning the delegations unanimously agreed that such activity would be prohibited under Article I of the proposed Antarctic Treaty for the peaceful uses of the continent.28 Nevertheless, the Antarctic nuclear question quickly became one of the most contentious issues of the Washington Conference. On October 17, Argentina first raised the idea of banning all nuclear explosions from Antarctica at the end of an informal meeting with Australia and Chile.29 On October 19, and to the surprise of the other delegations, Argentina proposed at the close of the day’s formal meetings that under Article I should appear: “Nuclear tests and explosions of any type, regardless of their character and purposes, shall be prohibited.” The Argentine head delegate Adolfo Scilingo argued that all types of nuclear explosions, including peaceful ones, must be prohibited because of the dangers of radioactive fallout to the Southern Hemisphere.30 The Argentine proposal looked to prohibit nuclear explosions at a time when great uncertainty surrounded their existence. Amidst heightened fears concerning the health risks associated with radioactive fallout from nuclear testing in the late 1950s, some scientists believed that “peaceful nuclear explosions” (PNEs) could be used as an efficient and cost-effective tool in scientific exploration, the excavation of minerals and natural gasses, the digging of canals and tunnels, the dredging of deep-water harbors, the creation of energy stores in the earth, the creation of water supplies in arid regions, the creation of “useful radioactive isotopes,” and even the melting of ice caps.31 In one extreme example, Hugh Auchincloss Brown, an electrical engineer from New York, theorized as early as 1948 that the increasing accumulation of ice in Antarctica would move the earth off its axis and cause cataclysmic global flooding. His solution, which he detailed in the late 1950s in various letters to governments around the world, was to use nuclear explosions to melt and blast away the ice at the South Pole.32 Dulles expressed serious concern over the prospect of melting Antarctica’s ice with nuclear explosions. In a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd in Manila in the spring of 1958, Dulles spoke with “great emphasis” about his fear that “if someone were to melt the [Antarctic] ice by thermo-nuclear activities the sea level throughout the world might be raised by twenty to thirty feet.” Dulles equated this scenario to his fear of nuclear explosions in outer space, which he believed “might … alter completely conditions on this planet.”33 But serious interest in PNEs existed within the U.S. nuclear establishment. Crucial to this vision was the development of “clean” nuclear technology. By the late 1950s, some prominent scientists within the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) posited that nuclear technology would develop to the point that nuclear explosions could occur without the emission of dangerous radioactive particles. Such technology, AEC scientists understood, would be imperative for the acceptance and safe use of PNEs.34 In the summer of 1957, the AEC set up Project Plowshare to study and develop PNEs and clean nuclear technology. AEC and UC Berkeley scientists named the project after a verse in the Book of Isaiah (2:4): “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up their sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”35 Despite its peaceful moniker, Project Plowshare had implications for the U.S. nuclear weapons program. Chairman of the AEC Lewis Strauss believed that Project Plowshare’s peaceful applications would help counter the negative effect of the momentous global disarmament movement on U.S. defense by creating “a climate of world opinion that is more favorable to weapons development and tests.”36 Edward Teller, the so-called “father” of the hydrogen bomb, publicly argued that the development of clean nuclear technology (and therefore the continuance of nuclear testing) would spare civilian populations from radioactive fallout in a future nuclear war.37 As such, Project Plowshare threatened to undermine efforts to halt the nuclear arms race. From late 1958 through early 1962, the United States and Soviet Union participated in the Geneva Conference on nuclear testing.38 The Soviets, whose PNE program would not commence until the mid 1960s, demanded the prohibition of PNEs under any future nuclear test ban agreement. Meanwhile, Teller led the effort to extricate the United States from the negotiations and thereby continue the buildup of the U.S. nuclear establishment. Referred to by Eisenhower’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology George Kistiakowsky as “the most dangerous scientist in the U.S.,” Teller tried to convince the president that the Soviets would cheat under a nuclear test ban agreement and that the United States would unnecessarily fall behind in the development of PNEs as a result.39 But Eisenhower did not wish for the United States to become “crucified on a cross of atoms” by world public opinion that generally opposed all nuclear explosions and did not think it prudent to allow PNEs to impede progress in the nuclear test ban negotiations.40 As a result, Project Plowshare postponed their use in 1959 and 1960.41 In the end, PNEs failed to realize their potential. The technology to eliminate the emission of radioactive particles never developed, PNEs remained technically indiscernible from nuclear weapons tests, and PNEs did not offer a cost-effective tool in civil engineering projects. Moreover, Project Plowshare never developed plans for the use of PNEs in Antarctica. But the seductive vision of PNEs across the U.S. nuclear landscape had not yet revealed itself to be a mirage by the time of the Washington Conference. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the United States fought to maintain its right to utilize a tool of seemingly awesome untapped potential in a continent of seemingly awesome untapped potential. U.S. head delegate Phleger argued that while it was prudent to raise concerns over nuclear testing and explosions, such issues were a “world-wide problem to be dealt with on a world-wide basis.” He believed the Washington Conference to be ill equipped to deal with such a scientifically technical issue, and that the matter should be left to the Geneva Conference. For Phleger, a clause that prohibited PNEs would undermine one of the key purposes of the Washington Conference: to ensure freedom of scientific discovery in Antarctica. As Phleger stated, “In the light of possible future developments in nuclear research, participants are in no position to place arbitrary restrictions on such activities.” Despite its position on PNEs at the Geneva Conference, the Soviet Union agreed for the moment with the United States. It, along with Great Britain and France, believed that the question of PNEs would require special study and would generally exceed the competence of the Washington Conference.42 Under pressure from the world’s three nuclear powers and France (which would test its first nuclear weapon four months later), the next day Argentina withdrew what the British referred to as “a tiresome addition” to the evolving Antarctic Treaty.43 But as one British observer noted, the delegations from the Southern Hemisphere “were clearly not prepared to have their views overridden by the nuclear powers. They appeared to feel that the Conference should give serious consideration to the question.”44 Argentina maintained that its proposal “reflected the global inequality with respect to nuclear tests.” South Africa accepted PNEs in principle, but stated, “The people of the world are profoundly disturbed with nuclear explosions,” and emphasized that responsibility lay with the nuclear powers negotiating the Antarctic Treaty.45 Australia emphasized that wind patterns from Antarctica comprised a large majority of the weather for its own continent, and that “any fallout that may result from [Antarctic PNEs] would be blown directly and very rapidly over the millions in the southern part of Australia” and elsewhere over its territory.46 Ultimately, Australia’s environmental concerns were discordant with its complicity in allowing the British to test nuclear weapons on its soil during the 1950s and 1960s.47 Nevertheless, Australia believed that the Washington Conference should give the nuclear question more consideration. It asked what would happen if the Geneva talks broke down and exposed Antarctica to various nuclear activities, and proposed prior consultation amongst the signatory powers before any PNE could be conducted in Antarctica.48 Chile agreed, and argued that, “It would be contradictory if a conference devoted to ensuring that Antarctica be used for peaceful purposes only were to leave the way open for tests there which might cause death and destruction” to neighboring populations.49 Finally, New Zealand, like South Africa, professed to accept the use of PNEs in principal, but added that the issue of the disposal of radioactive waste in Antarctica should be adequately addressed.50 In an attempt to skirt the issue, the United States suggested that reference to the Argentine proposal be submitted to the plenary session of the Washington Conference, after which the UN Secretary General could be asked to communicate with the Geneva Conference and the nascent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over the issue. Australia’s head delegate and chairman of the meeting Richard Casey dismissed the suggestion. Casey argued that the IAEA would not have time to deal with Antarctic issues and that the U.S. suggestion would mean that “the Conference would pass along to other hands a matter of vital concern without considering its substance.” He strongly urged that the matter be reopened after the delegates had the opportunity to confer with their respective governments.51 Compromises, Contradictions, and a Hardening of Positions On October 28, Argentina and Australia came back with a joint proposal to find a middle ground on the nuclear question amongst the delegations. It stated, “No detonations of nuclear or thermo-nuclear devices of a non-military nature, and no disposal of fissionable waste material, shall take place in Antarctica except after previous notification and consultation among the High Contracting Parties.”52 Soon thereafter, the delegations changed the word “fissionable” to “radioactive” after the British pointed out that, “very little radioactive waste in fact contains fissionable material.”53 The United States agreed to the joint proposal since it would still allow for PNEs in Antarctica. Phleger argued that “not all nuclear devices necessarily had harmful radiation effects,” and reiterated that a ban on such devices for the duration of the Treaty (the length of which was highly contested) could indefinitely restrict scientific pursuits, including seismological activities, exploring the earth’s crust, and setting up a nuclear power station at the South Pole.54 He believed that, “Those at the conference did not have the right to prohibit these peaceful and harmless uses, and that such a prohibition was contrary to the spirit of the treaty. The spirit of the treaty is that there shall be freedom of scientific investigation if it is peaceful. Here we are denying that freedom in probably the most important segment that lies before us.”55 Phleger also made clear that he did not interpret the joint proposal as granting veto power over PNEs to any one nation. Likewise, the British believed that they should be “very reluctant to accept a total prohibition [of nuclear explosions from Antarctica] both because we think atomic energy may be most useful in the future and because a considerable body of scientific opinion considers that part of Antarctica may well be the most suitable dumping ground [for radioactive waste].”56 Of the twelve delegations, only the Soviet Union opposed the joint Argentine-Australian proposal. It maintained that the Washington Conference was not the forum in which to discuss nuclear issues. More importantly, the Soviets viewed the joint Argentine-Australian proposal as contradictory: Article I of the Treaty would ban the testing of any type of weapon, but a PNE remained technically indiscernible from a nuclear test. The Soviets therefore proposed accepting the first part of the joint Argentine-Australian proposal that banned all nuclear explosions and devices, but refused to accept the second part that would allow for PNEs after prior consultation with treaty members. Overall, the Soviet Union would either agree to a complete ban on all nuclear explosions in Antarctica or no ban at all.57 The Soviet proposal for a total ban of all nuclear explosions in Antarctica found favor with the delegations from the Southern Hemisphere. Argentina, for example, stated that it had agreed to prior consultation for PNEs only because it had believed that a total prohibition of nuclear explosive devices in Antarctica would have been rejected by the other delegations, and it wanted to receive some type of concession on the issue rather than nothing at all. But to the bafflement of Grigory Tunkin, one of the lead Soviet delegates, three weeks into the Washington Conference no Southern Hemispheric nation was prepared to forego the joint Argentine-Australian proposal and side with the Soviets on the matter. An exasperated Tunkin explained, “It seems to me incomprehensible that the countries of the southern hemisphere which feel worry concerning explosions which could take place in Antarctica at the same time concretely propose to say to authorize such explosions. I do not see how this can be done. This is what I consider illogical.”58 The United States did not appear overly preoccupied with the Antarctic nuclear question in early November. With Southern Hemispheric support for the joint Argentine-Australian proposal and Phleger absent from the day’s meetings, it stated nothing on the issue on November 4 when discussion of the joint Argentine-Australian proposal reached its zenith.59 On November 6, the United States merely posited that any nuclear detonation should be confined to scientific research.60 When Phleger updated Secretary of State Christian Herter on the Washington Conference proceedings on November 7, he did not list the Antarctic nuclear question amongst the three most pressing issues up for discussion.61 The British were not so sure. British Head Delegate Sir Esler Dening found that, “If the Soviet Union maintains its attitude, it is probable that all [of the Southern Hemispheric nations] will opt for total prohibition rather than have no article at all, and [Australian delegate] Casey told me yesterday that he thought his Government would favour such a course.” Dening believed that support for total prohibition would not commend itself to the United States as it contemplated a nuclear reactor in Antarctica and the use of nuclear energy for scientific investigation. He also “had the impression that Casey had not fully grasped the significance of siding with the Soviet Union against the United States on this issue …”62 The United States soon came to share the British concern. Beginning in late October, the United States approached the Argentine government to ensure that the two nations were in agreement over a potential Antarctic treaty. The initial signs looked promising. Maurice M. Bernbaum, U.S. Chargé d’affaires ad interim to Argentina, spoke with Argentine President Arturo Frondizi in Buenos Aires and found that Frondizi “was not concerned over the possible reaction of the Argentine public to the treaty. He pointed out that comment in Argentina on the treaty had thus far been limited and unemotional.”63 In a memorandum to Frondizi on November 5, Bernbaum laid out the U.S. position to keep open the PNE option with prior notification and consultation that “may be essential for scientific purposes and for the development of Antarctica for peaceful purposes for the benefit of Argentina and other countries.” In response, Frondizi found the proposals to be a “most encouraging and constructive contribution toward meeting Argentine concern over the implications of the proposed treaty” and that “the proposed safeguards surrounding nuclear explosions would serve to allay Argentine fears and looked to [Frondizi] as perfectly satisfactory under the circumstances.” Instead, Frondizi worried more about what the atom meant for the Soviet presence in Antarctica.64 During the IGY, the Soviet Union had set up semi-permanent installations in Antarctic territory claimed by Australia.65 Frondizi now feared that Argentina’s Antarctic claims were similarly at risk. He relayed to Bernbaum that, “With the potentialities of atomic power, it was not unrealistic to assume that the Antarctic could eventually be converted into a livable area attractive to the Soviet Union.”66 But the Argentine Foreign Ministry did not agree with Frondizi’s assessment of Antarctic PNEs. Ministry officials stressed to Bernbaum the importance of public opinion on Argentina’s posture towards the Antarctic nuclear question. They relayed that the Argentine public was still reeling from the ARGUS series of nuclear tests conducted by the United States over the South Atlantic a year earlier. Carried out in August and September 1958, the ARGUS tests were designed to verify that, under the Christofilos effect, a nuclear explosion at the proper altitude would emit a wave of electrons that could travel across the atmospheric Van Allen radiation belt and knock out radio and radar transmissions and damage arming mechanisms on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Although rushed in order to precede the nuclear testing moratorium to be in place during the Geneva Conference, the tests were a success, prompting some of its participants to hyperbolically hail it as “the greatest scientific discovery of all time.”67 Argentine ambassador Luís María de Pablo Pardo, legal counselor of the Argentine Foreign Ministry, related to Bernbaum on November 8 that many Argentines had worried about the potential health effects and weather disruptions from the ARGUS tests and looked to prevent a similar reoccurrence in Antarctica.68 Ambassador Luís S. Sanz, Director of the Political Section of the Argentine Foreign Ministry, agreed with de Pablo Pardo’s assessment. Sanz told Bernbaum that, “One of the factors of great importance to the average Argentine is the danger of nuclear explosions. The Argentines have heard a great deal of the fallout dangers from nuclear explosions in the Pacific and in Siberia and have developed a phobia against the idea of any such explosions in southern South America or the Antarctic.” Sanz found the average Argentine more concerned with Antarctic issues than maritime issues despite Argentina’s extensive coastline. He also thought that public opinion on the nuclear question “was probably one of the most fundamental problems being faced by the Argentine delegation in its negotiations” at the Washington Conference. He believed that the Argentine public was unlikely to be swayed by the U.S. position because the public’s “attitude on the matter was far more emotional than rational.”69 Bernbaum was suspicious of the emphasis placed on public opinion by Argentina’s Foreign Ministry. In early November, officials from Argentina’s Foreign Ministry and armed forces publicly expressed their fears that Article II of the draft Antarctic Treaty, which allowed for freedom of scientific investigation in the continent, was simply a cover for nuclear testing that would blanket all of southern South America and perhaps even southern Brazil in radioactive fallout.70 Bernbaum thus believed that both institutions could “be held responsible to at least some extent for the publicity which de Pablo Pardo and Sanz claim is a factor inhibiting Argentine freedom of action at the Conference.”71 Bernbaum also believed that local elections set to take place the following March were affecting Argentina’s position on Antarctic nuclear activities. Opposition parties to Frondizi’s Intransigent Radical Civil Union (UCRI) party were likely to seize upon the Antarctic nuclear question and use it to their electoral advantage. Sanz confirmed the importance of politics to Bernbaum, adding confidentially, “the Foreign Office had been visited and grilled on the subject that morning by a group of [UCRI] Deputies. [Sanz] described the session as uncomfortable for the Foreign Office officials involved.”72 By November 10, Bernbaum worried that, “ … public and Congressional reaction have apparently produced second thoughts on whether Argentina should not insist on a complete ban. Soviet readiness to go along with such a ban is apparently giving rise to the suspicion that the United States is a stumbling block.”73 Bernbaum’s fears came to fruition. On November 10, the Argentine National Congress passed a resolution that no nuclear explosions should take place in Antarctica, a move likely intended to pressure the Washington Conference delegations to act on the nuclear question.74 On November 11, Argentina’s delegation at the Washington Conference stated that it “must take account of this expression of public opinion,” and moved to permanently ban nuclear explosions from Antarctica.75 The Soviet position appeared no better. British delegate Dening feared that “Australia and the other Southern Hemisphere powers may be stampeded into a [total] prohibition article by the Russians,” and advised that those nations be encouraged to stand their ground. The British believed that even if the Soviets permitted access to their Antarctic nuclear installations for inspections, “the U.S. appear determined to use atomic energy of a non-military nature and a prohibition article can only split the Western front, as well as possibly proving highly inconvenient later.”76 On November 11, the Soviet delegation informed the Washington Conference that it could only agree to an article on fissionable material if the article never allowed for nuclear or thermonuclear explosions in Antarctica. Later that day, the Soviet delegation said that it would remain open to the idea of a clause that banned all nuclear explosions with an additional clause that read “except with the prior consent of all the High Contracting Parties entitled to have representatives” under the Antarctic Treaty. Once again, the Southern Hemispheric nations expressed support for the latest Soviet proposal.77 Phleger “was clearly angry, but he restrained himself” over the inherent veto power in the Soviet proposal.78 It had been U.S. policy since the proposed Baruch and Gromyko plans on the international control of atomic energy in 1946 to abstain from disarmament agreements in which the Soviet Union possessed the right of veto.79 The British did not necessarily like it either, but noted that “there is a growing feeling that the Argentines would not dare to refuse to sign a treaty containing the provision which they want, and even the Americans are attracted by this idea.” The British concluded that, “in the event the Americans come round to acceptance of the total prohibition, it would hardly do for the United Kingdom to stand out, and in that event we would fall into line with the others.”80 The hardened Argentine and Soviet positions made the Antarctic nuclear question an issue of top priority for the United States at the Washington Conference. Larkin H. Farinholt, Deputy Science Advisor for the State Department and a member of the U.S. delegation to the Washington Conference, worried that “the U.S. might find itself in the uncomfortable position of apparently fighting to have nuclear explosions in the Antarctic.” On November 11, Farinholt suggested that accepting the modified Soviet proposal that would allow for nuclear explosions by unanimous prior consent might prove the best chance of convincing Argentina and Chile to sign the Antarctic Treaty.81 The State Department agreed, and gave Phleger permission to accept the latest Soviet proposal.82 Before an agreement on the nuclear question could be reached amongst the twelve delegations, the positions of Argentina and the Soviet Union continued to harden. Argentina proposed that a ban on nuclear explosions should apply to everywhere below 60 degrees south latitude, thereby extending the atom-free zone beyond the Antarctic continent to incorporate the high seas.83 The United States successfully pressured Argentina to rescind its latest proposal, but Argentine head delegate Scilingo intimated that it was Soviet delegate Tunkin who “ought to be watched for his true attitude” on the Antarctic nuclear question. According to Scilingo, Tunkin had approached the Argentine delegation in private to get their support for a ban on all fissionable material in Antarctica, including the use of nuclear reactors to produce power.84 On November 17, the Soviets introduced a proposal that would make a complete ban on nuclear explosions and the dispersal of radioactive material in Antarctica beholden to any future international agreements on nuclear energy to which all delegations also adhered. They had earlier dismissed a similar Australian suggestion on the grounds that it would have rendered pointless any nuclear agreement reached in the Washington Conference.85 Now Soviet support for this position produced “a stunned silence which lasted for some time,” while “further long silences were the main features of the afternoon.” Dening wrote back to the British Foreign Office that, “The deadlock is therefore complete, and it is to be hoped that other delegations will now abandon attempts to find a formula, since the Soviet intention is at last clear and does not appear susceptible to compromise.” According to Dening, Scilingo believed that “the next move of the Soviet delegate would be to propose that there should be no nuclear article at all in the treaty, knowing full well that this would now be unacceptable to Argentina as well as to other southern hemisphere countries.”86 Motives Behind Antarctic Denuclearization After the Soviet position once again changed on November 17, Phleger came to the conclusion that if the Antarctic Treaty were to be completed, it would have to be done without the right to nuclear explosions of any kind in the continent.87 On November 24, Phleger accepted the proposal to ban nuclear explosions and the dispersal of radioactive waste in Antarctica, pending broader international agreements on nuclear energy to which all Antarctic Treaty participants also adhered. Phleger “explained that he did so, not because he had been convinced by the Soviet arguments, but solely for the sake of obtaining a treaty.”88 The motives that drove each nation to accept an atom-free zone in Antarctica varied. For Great Britain, a need to show Western solidarity over the issue and a desire to see the Antarctic Treaty through to its completion took precedence over a resurgent predilection for the “use of Antarctica as a possible place for dumping radioactive waste.”89 Environmental and domestic political considerations informed the Argentine, Australian, and Chilean positions.90 The acute fear of a loss of sovereignty over their Antarctic claims also played a role. One Argentine ambassador explained that, “the Argentine government feared that the Russians might explode nuclear devices [in the Argentine sector] which could easily affect Argentina itself” once Antarctica became internationalized.91 A ban on nuclear explosions in Antarctica helped to quell Argentine and Chilean fears that they had made a mistake in agreeing to freeze their claims to Antarctic territory.92 From the Western perspective, the motives that drove the Soviet Union to push for the denuclearization of Antarctica were difficult to tease out. Phleger speculated that either the Soviet Union did not want any prohibition of nuclear explosions in the treaty (which would help to explain its mercurial behavior over the issue), or “that if the subject is dealt with in the treaty it shall be dealt with in such a way as to improve the Soviet position at the Geneva talks.” As Phleger understood it, the Soviets at Geneva wanted to first ban nuclear explosions and then discuss the conditions under which they might be conducted, with the Western position being precisely the opposite.93 The United States also believed that the Soviets had been caught off guard by the initial Argentine proposal for an independent clause on nuclear matters, which helped to explain its incoherent policy and prolonging of the debate.94 Meanwhile, the British thought “the Soviets probably fear that the Americans might contrive to conduct a nuclear weapons test in the Antarctic under the guise of an explosion for peaceful purposes.”95 What motives drove the United States to concede on the Antarctic nuclear question? In an immediate sense, officials in the State Department began to question their own rationale for fighting for PNEs. They belatedly realized that the AEC had never expressed a special interest in the use of PNEs in Antarctica and that the Defense Department would be banned from such activities in the continent due to Antarctica’s impending demilitarization under the Antarctic Treaty.96 Yet the Antarctic nuclear question must also be assessed in terms of what it meant for the United States in the broader context of the Cold War. It was the last issue to be resolved at the Washington Conference and threatened to derail the creation of the Antarctic Treaty if the delegations failed to reach a consensus. For the United States, the Cold War propagandist, geostrategic, and tactical stakes of an internationalized and demilitarized Antarctica were too high to accept the failure of the Antarctic Treaty. Before the Washington Conference began, former National Security Advisor and member of the JCS General Robert Cutler divulged that the only reason the Defense Department had signed off on an internationalized and demilitarized Antarctica in the first place was because it had thought that “a great propaganda gain would come to the U.S.”97 With the success of Sputnik two years earlier, the United States worried about “Sputnik diplomacy” ensuing from Antarctica, whereby the Soviet Union would use missile technology in the continent to impress peoples of the Southern Hemisphere.98 One State Department official argued in July 1959 that, “Because of its position of leadership in the Free World, it is evident that the United States could not now withdraw from the Antarctic … national prestige has been committed … Our capacity for sustaining and leading an international endeavor there that will benefit all mankind is being watched not only by those nations with us in Antarctica but also by non-committed nations everywhere. Antarctica simply cannot be separated from the global matrix.”99 The United States intended for the Antarctic Treaty to preempt unwanted interference in Antarctic affairs. Antarctic advisor Paul C. Daniels feared that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) might one day become active in Antarctica and looked to constrain its activities in the continent with the Treaty. Daniels believed that, “from the standpoint of propaganda, President Eisenhower’s position of farseeing statesmanship and world leadership would be adversely affected” were the PRC to gain an unhindered foothold in the continent. Daniels argued that under no circumstances should the PRC be allowed to accede to the Antarctic Treaty, but he nevertheless hoped that the Treaty would set a precedent to be followed by the PRC.100 More generally, a motivating factor in negotiating the Antarctic Treaty outside of the UN had been to exclude the entire Afro-Asian non-aligned and communist (save for the Soviet Union) voting blocs from any decisions concerning Antarctic affairs.101 A completed Antarctic Treaty would obviate the need for the United States to assert territorial claims in the continent in competition with the Soviet Union and would resolve a divisive issue amongst key U.S. Cold War allies. It would also help to ensure the security of these allies. One State Department report from January 1959 found that, “in the present missile jittery environment,” a Soviet presence in Antarctica, less than 1,500 miles from South America, could “stimulate additional anxieties and complexities” concerning U.S-Latin American defense relations.102 As Phleger later remembered it, “The U.S. interest was greatly increased by the realization that many of the countries of the southern hemisphere are within atomic missile range of Antarctica. With ballistic missiles with a range of 2500 miles and more, it would be possible for a nation to locate missile bases in Antarctica that would command the southern part of Africa, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. This gave great impetus and urgency to working out some international agreement that would prohibit the building up of military bases or the use of Antarctica for military purposes.”103 But if Cold War tensions served as a driving force in the U.S. pursuit of the Antarctic Treaty, it was the fleeting thaw in relations between the Soviet Union and the United States in the fall of 1959 that facilitated its successful outcome. In September 1959, Nikita Khrushchev made the first ever visit to the United States by a Soviet premier. At Camp David, Khrushchev and Eisenhower reached a consensus that the situation in Berlin was “abnormal,” and scheduled a summit meeting in Paris to further ease Cold War tensions the following May. These developments helped to keep the Second Berlin Crisis (1958–1962) on pause and encouraged Khrushchev in his pursuit of “peaceful coexistence” with the West.104 Khrushchev’s tumultuous visit with Chinese Premier Mao Zedong in Beijing shortly thereafter spoke in part to this newfound “Camp David Spirit.”105 In the nuclear field, the United States and Soviet Union continued their negotiations in Geneva to ban nuclear testing. In October and November 1959, both superpowers exchanged scientists to visit select nuclear reactors and research facilities, and explored the possibility of future joint projects in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.106 Perhaps most shocking, in December Khrushchev proposed in a secret memorandum to the Soviet Presidium that the Soviet Union reduce its troop levels by one to one-and-a-half million men and increasingly rely on nuclear weapons as a cost-effective method for Soviet defense.107 Not only would Khrushchev’s proposal have seemingly tipped the European balance of power in favor of Western strategic superiority, but it also mirrored the U.S. defense posture under Eisenhower’s “New Look.”108 Both sides acknowledged the importance of improved East-West relations for the creation of the Antarctic Treaty. On the first day of the Washington Conference, Soviet head delegate Vasili V. Kuznetsov expressed that the delegates were “meeting at a time when the trend towards warmer relations between states is discernible,” and spoke of a “fair wind” that would help lead to a successful Antarctic Treaty.109 Western delegations concurred. Daniels had noticed a “thawing out” in U.S.-Soviet relations throughout the preparation for the Washington Conference, and began to see in Antarctica an area for genuine East-West cooperation beyond mere rhetoric.110 The British observed that, “The evident readiness of the Russians to conclude a treaty if possible has not unnaturally increased the eagerness of the Americans to ensure that the Conference is a success.”111 Unlike the “very tiresome” and “prickly Latins,” the Soviets were “all milk and honey.”112 Dening noted that, “The most outstanding feature of [the Washington Conference] has been the behaviour of the Russians, who have displayed a degree of tolerance and cooperation which, I should imagine, must be rare in the annals of international conferences in recent years.”113 The Australians agreed, noting on November 9 that, “The whole atmosphere of the Conference had been very friendly and free from Cold War, the Russians being unusually affable.”114 Thus, disagreement over the Antarctic nuclear question had the potential to disrupt rather unexpected cooperation amongst the superpowers if the United States refused to concede to the Soviet position. Instead, the Antarctic Treaty was perhaps the only lasting gain from this fleeting thaw in the Cold War. Did the United States intend for Antarctic denuclearization to be a model for other regions? That desire existed in various circles outside of and after the Washington Conference. An article in The New York Herald Tribune from mid-October 1959 stated that if an inspection and control regime was created in Antarctica, “its value as a precedent in the entire field of disarmament could be very great.”115 After the completion of the Antarctic Treaty, an editorial in The Washington Daily News found that the newly established Antarctic Treaty System could serve as a precedent in arms inspection, the banning of nuclear weapons from specific regions, and the “spirit of co-operation pledged in the direction of a peaceful world.”116 During the June 1960 debate in the U.S. Senate over ratification of the Antarctic Treaty, Phleger asserted that the Antarctic Treaty “constitutes a precedent in disarmament, prohibition of nuclear explosions, and the law of space.”117 In May 1962, the U.S. delegation to the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC) used the regulation of nuclear activities in Antarctica as a potential precedent for a similar arrangement in outer space.118 But it was the geopolitical isolation of Antarctica that encouraged the United States to drop its opposition to the denuclearization of the continent. By mid November, the State Department came to the conclusion that because Antarctica was uninhabited, a prohibition of nuclear explosions in the continent would not affect the status of nuclear weapons in populated Cold War hot spots around the world.119 Additionally, the continuous and comprehensive inspections regime to be created by the proposed Antarctic Treaty, and the fact that nuclear weapons testing would already be prohibited under Article I for the peaceful uses of the continent, meant that the Soviets would be unable to “make much capital at Geneva out of [the Antarctic Treaty] agreement.”120 The inapplicability of the Antarctic Treaty to the Geneva Conference was particularly important for the United States and Great Britain as they sought to write a provision for PNEs into any test ban treaty.121 In addition, the Defense Department informed the State Department that it could only accept the Antarctic Treaty if it did not set a precedent for the peaceful uses of outer space.122 Still, the creation of an Antarctic atom-free zone fit with the Eisenhower Administration’s acceptance in its second term of partial arms control measures as both a means towards its professed goal of general and complete disarmament and to counter Soviet initiatives.123 One prior example came from Antarctica’s polar counterpart. In the fall of 1957, the United States proposed the creation of an inspection zone for the Arctic in response to a Soviet proposal to ban nuclear-armed training flights over the area. Against Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko’s assertion that photographs of the Arctic would produce nothing more than “pictures of ice, snow and polar bears,” the United States viewed the proposal as a win-win: Either its acceptance would allow the United States to monitor Soviet nuclear activities (which included nuclear testing) in the Arctic, reduce the risk of a surprise nuclear attack, and serve as a confidence-building measure between the two adversaries, or its rejection would result in a propaganda boon to the United States.124 Although foregone by the time of the Washington Conference, the proposal signaled that the United States could use a polar arms control measure to wage the Cold War. A desire for the United States to uphold its credibility in disarmament negotiations also swayed Phleger to support Antarctic denuclearization. While up for Senate ratification in June 1960, the Antarctic Treaty came under attack from Senator Clair Engle (D-CA), who thought it unwise to regulate nuclear activities in Antarctica. Specifically, Engle believed that Antarctica could prove desirable as a site for nuclear testing given its geographic isolation, that Antarctic nuclear explosions could prove desirable to “open up harbors or melt the ice cap,” and that the use of nuclear power in Antarctica could make the dispersal of radioactive waste in the continent desirable as well.125 Phleger defended Article V in the Senate hearings by highlighting the potential environmental risks of Antarctic nuclear explosions to nations of the Southern Hemisphere and for its ability to serve as a precedent in the field of disarmament.126 But it was perhaps what Phleger did not say that proved more fundamental to his thinking on the issue. In Phleger’s personal papers housed at UC Berkeley is an unmarked single-page document that appears to be a defense against Engle’s charges on the Antarctic nuclear question. The anonymous document states that a failure by the United States to ratify the Antarctic Treaty would give the Soviets “the basis of an attack on the good faith” of the United States because the United States “has always claimed that it is anxious to ban atomic explosions and reduce armaments provided there is adequate inspection and control.” The document notes that the Antarctic Treaty included such inspection and “foolproof” control mechanisms.127 Article VII of the Antarctic Treaty allowed for “complete freedom of access at any time to any or all areas of Antarctica,” as well as aerial observation.128 The unmarked document concludes that if the United States refused to ratify the Treaty, the Soviet Union would be able to question the sincerity of the United States when it repeatedly offered to ban nuclear weapons and armaments under a proper inspections regime.129 In the end, the United States had well-defined Cold War incentives to see the successful completion of the Antarctic Treaty through to the end, and this meant bowing to pressure on making Antarctica an atom-free zone. But as late as November 25, the United States worried that the Soviets were using the nuclear question to kill the Antarctic Treaty.130 In the final days of the Washington Conference, the Soviet Union flip-flopped on allowing international agreements to take precedence over any nuclear arrangements under the Antarctic Treaty, prompting South Africa (publicly) and the United States (privately) to finally accuse it of “introducing the Cold War into Antarctica.”131 Meanwhile, Australia, Great Britain, Japan, and South Africa led the push for a proposal that would ban all nuclear explosive devices and the dispersal of radioactive waste in Antarctica, but that would be subject to international agreements on nuclear energy and still allow for PNEs with prior unanimous consent.132 The Soviets stood firm on excluding the final provision that would keep the door open for PNEs, and it was understood that the Southern Hemispheric nations were likely to follow their lead on the issue.133 Ever more wary of the toll the nuclear question could take on the Antarctic Treaty, on November 27 Phleger informed the State Department that he was prepared to reach out to the other delegations in an effort to present a solid front against the Soviet Union, “at least for twenty-four hours,” if the Soviet position on the Antarctic nuclear question continued to harden.134 Perhaps the threat of such pressure worked. The Australian delegation reported that the clause on international agreements “was ultimately accepted by [the Soviet Union] after Tunkin was faced with an 11 to 1 vote and strong talking in the heads of delegation meetings.”135 On November 28, all twelve delegations were able to agree to an independent article (Article V) that would ban all types of nuclear explosions and the dispersal of radioactive waste in Antarctica, consequent to a more encompassing international arrangement on nuclear energy to which all Antarctic Treaty members also adhered.136 Conclusion During the Washington Conference, no nation opposed the creation of an atom-free zone in Antarctica more than the United States. It looked to sidestep the Antarctic nuclear question in order to avoid restrictions on its peaceful activities in the continent, and especially its right to conduct PNEs. But with an eye to the potential environmental and political fallout from Antarctic PNEs, the Southern Hemispheric nations of the Washington Conference exerted pressure on the United States to concede on the nuclear question. Argentina in particular led the push to denuclearize Antarctica; it surprised the other delegations with its formal introduction of the nuclear question four days into the Washington Conference proceedings, and concluded by mid-November that it could not sign the Antarctic Treaty without an acceptable provision on nuclear explosions. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union circuitously resolved that it would either accept a provision that banned all nuclear explosions from Antarctica or no provision at all. Although the United States found acceptable compromises with the Southern Hemispheric delegations over the Antarctic nuclear question, the mercurial behavior of the Soviet Union over the issue threatened to derail the Antarctic Treaty negotiations. Questioning its own rationale for PNEs in Antarctica and desiring to reap Cold War propagandist, geostrategic, and tactical benefits from a completed Antarctic Treaty, the United States foreswore (and by the end of the Washington Conference even moved against) the right to PNEs in the continent in order to complete the Treaty. The Antarctic Treaty did not ensure that the continent’s nuclear legacy would remain unblemished. Article V still allowed for the use and production of nuclear power, and from 1962 to 1972, in an effort to provide a cheap source of energy to a distant base, the United States operated a much-maligned nuclear reactor known as “Nukey Poo” at McMurdo Station. After a recorded 438 malfunctions during its tenure, a routine inspection in 1972 revealed cracks in the reactor, thereby averting a potential reactor core meltdown and ecological catastrophe.137 Weary of its cost and unreliability, wary of its technical malfunctions, and respectful of Article V, the United States dismantled the nuclear reactor and shipped it to Georgia and/or South Carolina (accounts differ over the precise location) to be buried during the austral summer of 1973–1974. The AEC determined that the Antarctic nuclear reactor had over the course of its existence slightly contaminated close to 12,400 tons of Antarctic soil. Over the austral summers of 1975 through 1979, the United States removed the contaminated soil and shipped most of it to be buried about sixty-five miles north of Los Angeles.138 Although the U.S. Navy’s final report on the McMurdo nuclear reactor did not find evidence of excessive radiation exposure, Navy officials who worked in the vicinity of the nuclear power station have recently claimed higher rates of cancer and have filed for compensation with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (figures 2 and 3).139 Figure 1: View largeDownload slide The Washington Conference on November 23, 1959. Paul C. Daniels Papers, box 3, folder 11, MS 1903, Yale University Manuscripts and Archives, Permission from U.S. Department of State, 59-N-VS-2436-59. Figure 1: View largeDownload slide The Washington Conference on November 23, 1959. Paul C. Daniels Papers, box 3, folder 11, MS 1903, Yale University Manuscripts and Archives, Permission from U.S. Department of State, 59-N-VS-2436-59. Figure 2: View largeDownload slide A photo of McMurdo Station, Antarctica, with the U.S. nuclear power plant in the foreground, May 18, 1965. U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Labs, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation (NSF). Figure 2: View largeDownload slide A photo of McMurdo Station, Antarctica, with the U.S. nuclear power plant in the foreground, May 18, 1965. U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Labs, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation (NSF). Figure 3: View largeDownload slide The main control panel of “Nukey Poo,” January 20, 1963. U.S. Navy, U.S. Antarctic Program, NSF. Figure 3: View largeDownload slide The main control panel of “Nukey Poo,” January 20, 1963. U.S. Navy, U.S. Antarctic Program, NSF. Of course, the delegates negotiating the Antarctic Treaty did not know of this unfortunate twist in Antarctica’s nuclear future. Still, in the immediate aftermath of the Washington Conference, Great Britain and Australia found fault with how the United States had dealt with the Antarctic nuclear question within the parameters of the Cold War. Dening viewed Phleger as a “lamentable chairman of the Conference” and, intimating inclusion of the United States, believed that “the way in which the [nuclear] question was handled by some delegations at the Conference unfortunately played into the hands of the Russians.” Dening regretfully noted that the Soviets were given a chance to “divide the Americans in particular from their southern hemisphere allies” over the nuclear issue.140 Meanwhile, Casey thought that Phleger could have used other issues up for debate within the Washington Conference to gain leverage over the Soviets on the nuclear question, and expressed disappointment that Phleger did not reach out to other delegations in an effort to reconcile superpower differences over the issue.141 Nevertheless, the U.S. concession on the nuclear question helped to preserve the Antarctic Treaty and inadvertently made Antarctica the first atom-free zone in the world. Although responsible for Nukey Poo, in the end the United States helped to shield Antarctica from perhaps even greater nuclear peril. With the vast majority of the Southern Hemisphere, large swaths of Asia, outer space, and the seabed currently under international agreements to remain nuclear free, all of the nations that negotiated the Antarctic Treaty took an important first step in the global movement towards regional denuclearization. *I would like to thank my advisor Professor James Hershberg, the participants and hosts of the 2015 Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) History, Humanities and Social Science Meeting, and the participants and hosts of the 2015 Wilson Center Nuclear History Boot Camp for their helpful feedback on earlier drafts. I would also like to thank Emma Bundy for her research assistance, Lina Wood for her hospitality in London, and my family and friends for their continued support. Footnotes 1. Letter to the Editor, “Are People Less Than Penguins?,” The Washington Daily News, December 3, 1959, 35. 2. Although the term “atom-free zone” was never used at the Washington Conference, it was in use at the time to discuss proposals for similar regional schemes elsewhere around the world that banned nuclear weapons from a specified geographic area. 3. The Antarctic Treaty, December 1, 1959, Secretariat of the Antarctic Treaty, accessed October 31, 2016, http://www.ats.aq/documents/ats/treaty_original.pdf. 4. See, for example, James Stocker, “Accepting Regional Zero: Nuclear Weapon Free Zones, U.S. Nonproliferation Policy and Global Security, 1957–1968, Journal of Cold War Studies 17, no. 2 (Spring 2015): 37; Susanna Schrafstetter and Stephen Twigge, Avoiding Armageddon: Europe, the United States, and the Struggle for Nuclear Nonproliferation, 1945–1970 (Westport, CT, 2004); Shane Maddock, Nuclear Apartheid: The Quest for American Atomic Supremacy from World War II to the Present (Chapel Hill, NC, 2010); David Tal, The American Nuclear Disarmament Dilemma, 1945–1963 (Syracuse, NY, 2008). 5. Paul Arthur Berkman, “President Eisenhower, the Antarctic Treaty, and the Origin of International Spaces,” in Science Diplomacy: Antarctica, Science, and the Governance of International Spaces, ed. Paul Arthur Berkman et al., (Washington, DC, 2011), 24; Jason Kendall Moore, “Particular Generalization: the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 in Relation to the Anti-nuclear Movement,” Polar Record 44, no. 229 (2008): 121. 6. Adrian Howkins, “Frozen Empires: A History of the Antarctic Sovereignty Dispute Between Britain, Argentina, and Chile, 1939–1959” (PhD diss., University of Texas at Austin, 2008), 331–38; See, for example, Frank G. Klotz, America on the Ice: Antarctic Policy Issues (Washington, DC, 1998); Peter J. Beck, The International Politics of Antarctica (New York, 1986); Jason Kendall Moore, “A ‘Sort’ of Self-denial: United States Policy toward the Antarctic, 1950–1959,” Polar Record 37, no. 200 (2001). 7. Jason Kendall Moore, “Bungled Publicity: Little America, Big America, and the Rationale for Non-claimancy, 1946–1961,” Polar Record 40, no. 212 (2004): 24. 8. Walter Sullivan, “Into the Unknown White Continent,” The New York Times, December 26, 1954, 10. 9. Adrian Howkins, “Frozen Empires,” 267. 10. Foreign Service Dispatch No. 645, Counselor of Embassy, Santiago (Sanders) to Department of State, March 14, 1955, 702.022/3-1455, Record Group 59 (hereafter RG 59) National Archives, College Park (hereafter USNA). 11. Note Prepared by the Historical Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, March 3, 1956, F.25(2)-AMS/56(S), National Archives of India, Delhi (hereafter NAI). 12. Telegram No. 124714, Foreign Secretary (Hussain) to Indian Embassies in London, Canberra, Moscow, Paris, Washington, New York, March 1, 1956, F.25(I)-AMS/56, NAI. 13. Adrian Howkins, “Defending Polar Empire: Opposition to India’s Proposal to Raise the ‘Antarctic Question’ at the United Nations in 1956,” Polar Record 44, no. 228 (2008): 35. 14. Memorandum from the Director of the Office of United Nations Political Affairs (Adams) to the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (Wilcox), November 6, 1956, Foreign Relations of the United States (hereafter FRUS), 1955–1957, vol. XI, United Nations and General International Matters, ed. Lisle A. Rose (Washington, DC, 1988), doc. 316, 648–51. 15. Ibid., 651. 16. Adrian Howkins, “Defending Polar Empire,” 35–36. 17. Memorandum of Discussion at a Department of State-Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Washington, January 10, 1958, FRUS, 1958–1960, vol. II, United Nations and General International Matters, eds. Suzanne E. Coffman and Charles S. Sampson (Washington, DC, 1991), doc. 264, 464–65. 18. Memorandum of Discussion at the Department of State-Joint Chiefs of Staff Meeting, Washington, January 24, 1958, FRUS, 1958–1960, vol. II, doc. 266, 468–70. 19. Ibid. 20. Memorandum of Discussion at the 357th Meeting of the National Security Council, Washington, March 6, 1958, FRUS, 1958–1960, vol. II, doc. 268, 472–79. 21. Aide-Mémoire From the Department of State to Certain Embassies, March 24, 1958, FRUS, 1958–1960, vol. II, doc. 271, 497–99. 22. Paul Arthur Berkman, “President Eisenhower,” 23. 23. James Stocker, “Accepting Regional Zero”; Lykourgos Kourkouvelas, “Denuclearization on NATO’s Southern Front: Allied Reactions to Soviet Proposals, 1957–1963,” Journal of Cold War Studies 14, no. 4 (Fall 2012): 197–215. 24. International – Antarctica – Report by RG Casey on Antarctic Conference, Washington 1959, M4081, 6/1, October 1959 – December 1959, National Archives of Australia (hereafter NAA: M4081, 6/1); In general, the peaceful uses of Antarctica were mostly ignored during the informal preparatory meetings. See, Peter J. Beck, “Preparatory Meetings for the Antarctic Treaty, 1958–1959,” Polar Record 22, no. 141 (1985): 659. 25. Position Paper: Peaceful Use of Antarctica, October 16, 1959, 399.829/10-759, RG 59, USNA. 26. U.S. Government Publishing Office, Conference Documents: The Antarctic Treaty and Related Papers/The Conference on Antarctica (Washington, DC, 1960), vii. 27. NAA: M4081, 6/1. 28. Ibid. 29. Minutas de conversación informal entre las Delegaciones de Chile, Argentina, y Australia, que tuvo lugar en la Embajada de Australia, October 17, 1959, Vol. 5319, Embajada de Chile en Los Estados Unidos, Of. Conf E-R, Cables-E, 1959, Archivo General Histórico de Chile, Santiago. 30. Inward Saving Telegram No. 547 From U.K. Delegation to the Antarctic Conference (Caccia) to Foreign Office, October 22, 1959, FO 371/138972, The National Archives, London (hereafter: TNA). 31. Memorandum of Conversation, Department of State, Washington, September 30, 1958, reproduced in William Burr and Hector L. Montford, eds., “The Making of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, 1958–1963,” The National Security Archive, Document 7, accessed October 14, 2016, http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB94/tb07.pdf; William L. Laurence, “Science in Review: Project Plowshare Studies Ways of Using Immense Force of H-Bombs Peaceably,” The New York Times, July 20, 1958, E9. 32. Hugh Auchincloss Brown, “Civilization’s Annihilation—Or Its Rescue,” April 28, 1959, AH/0027/9, Notas Varias, Fondo: Antártida y Malvinas, Archivo Histórico de Cancillería, Buenos Aires; “Antarctic Doomsday,” The New York Times, September 1, 1948, 22; Letter From Deputy Chief, Public Services Division (Brown) to Hugh A. Brown, August 27, 1957, 702.022/7-3157, RG 59, USNA. 33. Dispatch From Foreign Office (Dean) to Ministry of Defence (Brundrett), April 2, 1958, FO 371/136927, TNA. 34. Scott Kaufman, Project Plowshare: The Peaceful Use of Nuclear Explosives in Cold War America (Ithaca, NY, 2012), 22–24. 35. Ibid., 2. 36. Richard G. Hewlett and Jack M. Holl, Atoms for Peace and War, 1953–1961: Eisenhower and the Atomic Energy Commission (Berkeley, CA, 1989) 529. 37. Edward Teller and Albert Latter, “The Compelling Need for Nuclear Tests,” Life, February 10, 1958, 64–77. 38. William Burr and Hector L. Montford, eds., “The Making of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, 1958–1963,” The National Security Archive, accessed October 31, 2016, http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB94/. 39. George B. Kistiakowsky, A Scientist at the White House: The Private Diary of President Eisenhower’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology (Cambridge, MA, 1976), 228; Paul Rubinson, “‘Crucified on a Cross of Atoms’: Science, Politics, and the Test Ban Treaty,” Diplomatic History 35, no. 2 (April 2011): 300–302. 40. Paul Rubinson, “Crucified on a Cross of Atoms,” 302. 41. Richard G. Hewlett and Jack M. Holl, Atoms for Peace and War, 529–30. 42. Summary Record – Second Meeting of Committee II, October 20, 1959, lot file 68D381, Program Records, Oct.-Nov. 1959, Antarctica Conf. 1959, folder Antarctica, Comm. II/SR1-9, box 1, RG 43, USNA. 43. Telegram No. 2211 From U.K. Delegation to the Antarctic Conference (Caccia) to American Department, Foreign Office, October 20, 1959, FO 371/138972, TNA. 44. Inward Saving Telegram No. 547 From U.K. Delegation to the Antarctic Conference (Caccia) to Foreign Office, October 21, 1959, FO 371/138972, TNA. 45. Summary Record – Second Meeting of Committee II, October 20, 1959. 46. Committee of the Whole, November 3, 1959, lot file 68D381, Program Records, Oct.–Nov. 1959, Antarctica Conf. 1959, folder: Conference on Antarctica, Committee of the Whole, First Meeting, box 3, RG 43, USNA, C-8. 47. See, Lorna Arnold and Mark Smith, Britain, Australia and the Bomb, 2nd ed., (London, UK, 2006). 48. Summary Record – Second Meeting of Committee II, October 20, 1959. 49. The British pointed out that nuclear tests were not the issue up for debate. 50. Summary Record – Second Meeting of Committee II, October 20, 1959. 51. Ibid. 52. Summary Record – Ninth Meeting of Committee I, October 28, 1959, lot file 68D381, Program Records, Oct.–Nov. 1959, Antarctica Conf. 1959, folder Antarctica, Comm. I/SR/1-11, box 1, RG 43, USNA. 53. Telegram No. 4700 From Foreign Office to U.K. Delegation to the Antarctic Conference, October 30, 1959, FO 371/138972, TNA. 54. Inward Saving Telegram No. 575 From U.K. Delegation to the Antarctic Conference (Caccia) to Foreign Office, November 4, 1959, FO 371/138974, TNA. On Chile’s insistence, the length of the Treaty was initially set at thirty years. It was then extended by fifty years in 1991. See, Adrian Howkins, “Frozen Empires,” 302. 55. Committee of the Whole, November 3, 1959, C-5–C-6. 56. 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Diplomatic History – Oxford University Press
Published: Sep 1, 2018
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