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Interview of Alan F. Neidle by Brian Shoemaker

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/30107

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Title: Interview of Alan F. Neidle by Brian Shoemaker
Creators: Neidle, Alan F.
Contributors: Shoemaker, Brian
Issue Date: 2007-12-07
Publisher: Byrd Polar Research Center Archival Program
Series/Report no.: Polar Oral History Program
Abstract: Alan Neidle is best remembered as a principal negotiator of the Antarctic Treaty. Soon after graduating from Yale in 1950, he served three years in the Army during the Korean War. This enhanced his interest in international questions, and as a law student at the University of Michigan he focused on international law. In January 1957, he was hired by the State Department, and developed an interest in negotiation. By age 29 he had already negotiated on two treaties, including extradition treaties with Brazil and Sweden. Although still very junior in rank, he was given the Antarctic assignment by Marjorie Whiteman, his boss, a distinguished international lawyer. Ambassador Paul Daniels, with years of experience in Latin America, was named by John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State, to join a team of Antarctic negotiators. Neidle was chosen to be the legal representative. These were the years of the Cold War, and there was rising concern about the role of the Russians in Antarctica. The National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., a non-political venue, was the site of some 60 meetings that were held over the next nine months. For some months the Russians were uncooperative, but the other participants developed a whole catalog of new ideas and refinements. Some voices in the State Department called for abandoning the project on grounds the Russians would never cooperate. Some feared that they might launch missiles from Antarctica, or use it as a submarine base. Daniels persisted, and in time the Russians reversed course, and chose to cooperate. Work on the Antarctic Treaty then proceeded fairly quickly. Daniels asked Neidle to draft a full text of the proposed treaty. In the end this would prove to be the most important, multi-lateral treaty with the Russians since World War II. Neidle’s initial sentence, the first that he wrote, “Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only,” made it to the final, signed draft. Soon after the Outer Space Treaty was adopted, and Neidle’s sentence was again the lead sentence, “Outer space shall be used for peaceful purposes only.” Article One stated that “research shall continue as before,” a tacit acknowledgement that the multi-national scientific cooperation during the International Geophysical Year (IGY), 1957-58, had been successful. The claims issue, however, was more contentious, especially for the South Americans. The British, New Zealanders, Australians, and French were more open to internationalizing Antarctica, but both the Brazilians and Chileans asserted specific territorial claims. It was agreed that no new post-treaty territorial claims would be recognized. The United States, which had invested more effort in Antarctic research than any other nation, asserted no territorial claims and never recognized those of other nations. For the United States, free access to the entire continent was essential. The Treaty banned nuclear testing and nuclear storage of radioactive waste in Antarctica. The Treaty does not impose any quotas or restrictions on nuclear inspections. Several other articles of the Treaty were mostly administrative and not controversial, including a provision that it must be written in Russian, Spanish, and French, as well as English. It was agreed in an important provision that after 30 years the Treaty must be reviewed, and might even be terminated. In the meantime, any nation withdrawing from the Treaty must give one-year notice. By and large the Treaty has been well received. Herman Flager was the chief negotiator, and signed the treaty for the United States. Neidle was his legal assistant, and worked closely with him at all stages. Without the effective guidance of Flager, a close personal friend of John Foster Dulles, the Treaty might never have happened. Neidle also spoke highly of the essential work of Ambassador Paul Daniels. Various nuclear inspections ensued as a result of the Treaty, including visits to Russian territory as well as Antarctica. Neidle takes pride in his own participation in Treaty preparations, and looking back, said he personally would have done nothing differently. Major Themes Negotiations leading to adoption of the Antarctic Treaty Neidle’s role in legal advising and in negotiations on the Treaty Roles of Herman Flager and Paul Daniels Impact over time of the Antarctic Treaty Negotiations with the Russians over the Treaty
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/30107
Other Identifiers: Record Group Number: 56.61
Rights: Restrictions: This item is not restricted.
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