Even after Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin blamed the United States for inciting riots in Russia last month, Russia and the US have agreed to send a joint team to inspect foreign stations, installations and equipment in Antarctica from January 23-28.
The inspection is part of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, which sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve where military activity is banned, to ensure Antarctica’s status as a continent reserved for peace and science. Forty-nine nations have signed the treaty. There is also an Environmental Protocol - signed in 1991 - that calls for environmental impact assessments and waste management, and safeguards protected areas to maintain the region's marine environment and its flora and fauna.
The State Department and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will co-lead the inspection, which is the first joint inspection conducted by either country.
The US-Russian team will make sure those who have signed the treaty are maintaining their obligations, such as limiting environmental impacts and ensuring that no military operations are taking place.
The United States last conducted an Antarctic inspection in 2006.
(Photo © DR)