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OPP 06-001 November 2005

United States Antarctic Policy and Achievements

  1. Antarctic mission and policy

    1. White House Memorandum 6646 (1982)1
      1. United States will maintain an active and influential presence in Antarctica that supports the range of its interests under the Antarctic Treaty.
      2. National Science Foundation will budget for and manage the National program, including university and Federal research and logistics, as a single package.
      3. Departments of Defense and Transporta­tion will provide logistics (reimbursed).
      4. NSF will use commercial support and management where cost effective and not detrimental to the National interest.
      5. Other agencies may do short-term science when operations in Antarctica are coordinated with NSF.
    2. Presidential Decision Directive NSC-26 (1994)
      1. Protect antarctic environment.
      2. Protect opportunities for scientific research.
      3. Maintain Antarctica as an area of international cooperation for peaceful purposes.
      4. Conserve living resources in the oceans surrounding Antarctica.2
    3. President's National Science and Technology Council review (1996)3
      1. Presidential Memorandum 6646 continues to be appropriate at the current funding level.
      2. U.S. Antarctic Program is cost effective in advancing American scientific and geopolitical objectives.
      3. Continue three stations with year-round presence.
    4. U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel (1997)4
      1. Program is well managed, involves high quality science, and is important to the United States.
      2. An Optimized South Pole Station should replace the existing station.

  2. Overall National achievement

    1. Peace.  Antarctica has been reserved for peace as a result of international cooperation stimulated in part by a 1948 U.S. international initiative, by U.S. leadership during the 1957–1958 International Geophysical Year, and by the Antarctic Treaty signed in 1959 by 12 nations in Washington, D.C.
    2. Knowledge.  Antarctic research has enabled discoveries of fundamental societal importance that could not have been achieved without a substantial scientific and operational presence in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.  Research since the IGY has provided the basic understanding of Antarctica and its key role in global processes.  Antarctica is the last continent to be explored and studied; more than 90 percent of the world's antarctic research literature has been published in the 46 years since the IGY.
    3. Leadership.  Through its year-round presence in Antarctica and participation in international antarctic affairs, the United States has maintained scientific and political leadership and assured U.S. participation in future uses of the region.

End notes
[1] For the full text, see appendix B in
[3] The 67-page report United States Antarctic Program, April 1996, is in the NSF web site at
[4]The 94-page report The United States in Antarctica, April 1997, is at
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