5. The division of Antarctica between so many nations is a volatile situation.

Today we meander back to some of the interesting story-lines I tried to include in “South Pole Vendetta”:

Futuristic story lines from “South Pole Vendetta”:
10. The South Pole – no longer inaccessible
9. Heroes don’t have to sleep with everyone who comes along.
8. North Korea is looking for respect and power on the world’s biggest stages.
7. Is there really an ocean of oil under the South Pole?
6. The atlatl is an actual, legitimate, weapon – sort of.
5. The division of Antarctica between so many nations is a volatile situation.
4. Unmanned military airplanes will continue to evolve.
3. Nanotechnology will change warfare in the near future.
2. The Switchblade may be the next generation of military aircraft.
1. Where’s the evidence for global warming?

We’re into some of the top story-lines, in my opinion, as we get to number five.

There are some amazing things related to the division of Antarctica among the nations with an interest there (there is an amazingly large number of them), that I would like to address.

When the rights and privileges treaty was signed in 1961 there were twelve nations with active interests on the continent, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the fourteen articles of the treaty a number of important things were addressed, such as:
The area is to be used for peaceful purposes – military presence for research and peace-keeping only,
Cooperation between nations would continue,
“The treaty does not recognize, dispute, nor establish territorial sovereignty claims; no new claims shall be asserted while the treaty is in force”,
All ice-shelves and land masses are covered – but not the surrounding water,
and, “All treaty states will discourage activities by any country in Antarctica that are contrary to the treaty”.

There were others, but these were all important ones.

“The treaty forbids any measures of a military nature, but not the presence of military personnel.” This quote is vital because it is the first important idea, which North Korea is able to exploit in our story.

Various military groups are consistently involved in the activity at the South Pole, and the US and others use the area to conduct extreme cold weather missions in basic research areas. But, there are NO active forces – that I’m aware of – on the continent. A nation could fairly easily invade the place, if there was ample reason and technology to do so; and if they were ethically willing to go against the treaty.

Currently there are fifty member nations; but the US reserves the right to claim areas on the continent – along with Russia. North Korea has also signed the treaty, but their adherence to those treaties seems to be tenuous at best. This brings us to the number five article above. When North Korea decides to invade Antarctica in a desperate attempt to gain cheap oil, the result must be a concerted effort to remove this threat. Of course the use of military force could be debated for quite some time, but the question of defending ourselves as a nation must enter into that discussion. While the US Marshals are currently responsible for peace-keeping, a stronger force would be needed for any action taken against the treaty.

“John Keegan and Andrew Wheatcroft, in their 1986 book ‘Zones of Conflict: An Atlas of Future Wars’, make the point that strategic interests in Antarctica derive from two causes: economic and strategic. Antarctica has great potential economic value, in terms of mineral and oil resources. Strategically, there was continuing concern about keeping the Cape Horn route available for free passage during the Cold War, as, among other things, U.S. aircraft carriers cannot pass through the Panama Canal. The Falkland Islands, Keegan and Wheatcroft go on to say, dominate the Drake Passage, the ‘stretch of stormy water separating South America from the Antarctic’. This was a less publicized factor during the Falklands War.

“However, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and increasing competition for fossil fuel resources, the ‘economic’ rather than the ‘strategic’ rationale is probably more important in the early twenty-first century.”

I’ll let you decide how great the threat of war over Antarctica is, but haven’t we fought a war or two where the question of oil entered the discussion?

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