Antarctica made a military-free continent

Twelve nations, including the United States and the Soviet Union, sign the Antarctic Treaty, which bans military activities and weapons testing on that continent. This is the first arms control agreement signed during the Cold War.

Since the 1800s, a number of countries, including Britain, Australia, Chile and Norway, have claimed parts of Antarctica. These competing claims have led to diplomatic disputes and even armed clashes. In 1948, Argentine military forces fired at British troops in an area claimed by both nations. Such incidents, along with evidence that the Soviet Union was increasingly interested in Antarctica, prompted the United States to propose that the continent become a United Nations administrator. This idea was rejected when none of the other nations with interests in the continent agreed to cede their claims of sovereignty to an international organization.

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