Washington, Jan 22 (IANS) The US and Russia will jointly inspect foreign stations, installations and equipment in Antarctica Jan 23-28, the US state department has said.
The US-Russian team will review adherence to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 by countries, Xinhua reported Saturday. This will be the first joint inspection conducted by either country. The US last conducted an Antarctic inspection in 2006.
The state department coordinates US policy on Antarctica with federal agencies. It leads diplomatic efforts within the framework established by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty.
The treaty, signed in Washington, is to ensure Antarctica's status as a continent reserved for peace and science. Currently, 49 nations are signatories of the treaty, which sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve where military activity is banned.
Signed in 1991, the environmental protocol provides for environmental impact assessments and waste management, and designates protected areas in order to safeguard the pristine region's marine environment and its flora and fauna.