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Russia-US first joint inspection in Antarctica

January 30, 2012, 18:26 UTC+3

Russia and the United States finished their first joint inspection in Antarctica

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MOSCOW, January 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia and the United States have finished the first joint inspection in Antarctica, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday, January 30.

“The Russian-American group of authorised observers based at the American station McMurdo, visited the Mario Zucchelli (Italy), Concordia (Italy-France) and Scott (New Zealand) stations on January 23-28, having successfully finished the first joint inspection in Antarctica,” the ministry said.

“Russian and U.S. officials were satisfied to note the high level of understanding shown by the personnel of the abovementioned stations and compliance with the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty of 1991 and other documents of the Antarctic Treaty System,” the ministry said.

“Members of the Russian-American inspection group are sincerely grateful for the hospitality with which they were received at the stations visited, for assistance provided to them in their work, and for the openheartedness and friendliness of the Italian, French and New Zealand personnel,” the ministry said.

The inspection report will be presented at the upcoming consultative meeting on the Antarctic Treaty to be held in Hobart, Australia, in June 2012.

The Antarctic Treaty came into force on June 23, 1961 after ratification by the twelve countries then active in Antarctic science. The treaty covers the area south of 60 degrees southern latitude. Its objectives are simple yet unique in international relations. They are to demilitarise Antarctica, to establish it as a zone free of nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste, and to ensure that it is used for peaceful purposes only; to promote international scientific cooperation in Antarctica; to set aside disputes over territorial sovereignty.

The treaty remains in force indefinitely. The success of the treaty has been the growth in membership. Forty-six countries, comprising around 80 percent of the world’s population, have acceded to it. Consultative (voting) status is open to all countries which have demonstrated their commitment to Antarctica by conducting significant research.

Twenty-eight nations, including Britain, have consultative status. The treaty parties meet each year at the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. They have adopted over 300 recommendations and negotiated separate international agreements, of which three are still in use. These, together with the original treaty provide the rules which govern activities in Antarctica. Collectively they are known as the Antarctic Treaty System.

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