A team of U.S. government officials from the U.S. Department of State, National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and United States Coast Guard concluded a five-day inspection of foreign research stations, installations, and equipment in Antarctica on or just prior to February 11, 2020. The team inspected three stations: Mario Zucchelli (Italy), Jang Bogo (South Korea), and Inexpressible Island (China). The interagency team carried out the inspections while embarked aboard the Coast Guard Cutter POLAR STAR. This was the fifteenth inspection of foreign research stations by the United States in Antarctica, and the first since 2012. The United States appreciates the assistance provided by the professionals at the inspected sites.
The United States continues to promote Antarctica’s status as a continent reserved for peace and science in accordance with the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. The purpose of the inspection was to verify compliance with the Antarctic Treaty and its Environmental Protocol, including provisions prohibiting military measures and mining, as well as provisions promoting safe station operation and sound environmental practices. Inspections emphasize that all of Antarctica is accessible to interested countries despite territorial claims and reinforce the importance of compliance with the Antarctic Treaty’s arms control provisions. The United States will present its report on the inspection at the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in Helsinki, Finland, in May 2020.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs leads U.S. policy on Antarctica in cooperation with the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that administers the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), which coordinates and provides logistical support for all U.S. government research on the southernmost continent and in the Southern Ocean, and other federal agencies. Through the USAP, the United States maintains three year-round scientific stations on Antarctica and has more personnel based in Antarctica than any other country.