Goodbye Antarctic Treaty by Mark Simmons
Introduction by Nick Davis, MSGBS Webmaster - The text for this essay was lifted from the message board, rather than let this interesting thought provoking treatise disappear I have edited it and reproduced it on the MSGBS.

Mark Simmons - I've been wondering what the status of the famous Antarctic Treaty is after the end of the One-Year War. It's not mentioned in Zeta Gundam or Char's Counterattack, even though the taboo on using nuclear weapons persists, and we're told that chemical weapons like poison gas are against "international law." The only case I can think of where it's cited in a postwar context is in episode 5 of Gundam 0083, where Delaz proclaims roughly thus:

"Look, these are our spoils of war! This Gundam was developed for the purpose of a nuclear attack. This machine, which violates the Antarctic Treaty, was developed in secrecy... blah blah blah."

However, in the 0083 novelization - which, being edited by series director Takashi Imanishi, are probably a pretty good guide to the director's intentions - we then cut to the bridge of the Albion for a reaction from South Burning and Captain Synapse. Burning explodes, "What the hell! The Antarctic Treaty was a wartime treaty, and that war is over! What's he talking about?" Synapse patiently explains that, as far as Delaz is concerned, the Zeon Republic is a fraud and the armistice it signed with the Federation is worthless; hence the One Year War for him never ended, and the Antarctic Treaty remains in effect.

Now, I'm sure that some of the more rabid partisans will respond "Whatever Delaz says goes! The One-Year War never ended! The South will rise again!" But as far as the Universal Century world is concerned, it seems the Antarctic Treaty expired on January 1, U.C.0080, to be replaced with a new set of accords negotiated between the Federation and the Republic of Zeon.

Even on its own delusional terms, Delaz's argument seems a bit shaky to me. It's not clear whether the Antarctic Treaty outlawed the development of nuclear vehicles like the GP02A, or just their use. Delaz's logic seems to be that the existence of the GP02A is in itself proof that the Federation intends to use it against the spacenoids, and the fact it was developed in secret is proof of the Federation's treacherous nature. But whether one buys that reasoning or not, the fact that Delaz invokes the defunct Antarctic Treaty to support it would probably make him sound like a kook to most of his listeners.

Though we've never seen the full text of the Antarctic Treaty, I think it's usually said that it bans use of such weapons, not development. The nukes, which both sides keep in storage, appear to be antiques, but they may simply have decided to halt development of weapons they weren't allowed to use...

Ironically, Delaz's reciprocal tactic - staging a second colony drop - was outlawed by the defunct Antarctic Treaty, but apparently not by the postwar accords. (In Zeta, nobody objects to the Titans' attempted colony drop on Granada as they do to the use of poison gas, and the AEUG can rely only on its own vigilance to prevent a repeat attempt.) Perhaps they figured that nobody but the Principality of Zeon would ever want to commit that kind of genocide against a spacenoid habitat.

Colony drops were prohibited by the wartime Antarctic Treaty, but circumstantial evidence suggests that they're not specifically banned by the postwar accords. (For more on this subject, please read the rest of this essay.)

In general, these treaties seem to be full of loopholes, and all sides do their best to come up with new tricks faster than treaties can ban them. During the One-Year War alone we saw Zeon bombarding Earth with lunar mass drivers, building a giant laser cannon, and developing viral weapons to mutate terrestrial plant life.

Here is a little blurb from the text available on the Antarctic Treaty

Looking back at history; the 20th century was a major turning point for humankind. The atomic weapons of the past only caused disaster and misery to anybody regardless of the race, ideology and religion, and thus, should not be used in any case at all. All the wisdom should be called upon to leave our posterity a safe world and healthy and productive soil. Ideologies concerning basic human rights, human dignity, human values, equal rights of men and women, and equal rights regardless of the size of the nations, should be reaffirmed. To maintain the world peace and the security, all the military powers would be integrated.

That blurb is from issue 8 of "G20" magazine, which identifies it as the "Preamble to the Earth Federal Constitution." The whole thing is written in English, and it's all just windy babble of this nature.

If you look at CCA and the use of nukes during that confrontation: Adenauer's outrage comes from Char breaking the terms of their surrender pact, rather than from a general violation of the laws of war. However, the Londo Bell's use of museum-piece nukes does seem to be a technical violation of whatever the operative rules are at that point - hence Cameron Bloom's nervousness when he turns them over to Bright. Still, in a crisis, you do what needs doing and worry about making excuses later.

Returning to Gundam 0080, the Zeon commander argues that Side 6 isn't a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty, and thus isn't subject to its protections. The treaty does prohibit attacks on neutral entities, but I guess it only guarantees their safety as long as they stay neutral.

While Commander Killing has a legal argument for nuking Side 6 - and a compelling political one as well - the Zeons made repeated attempts to use nuclear weapons against the Federation in the last days of the One Year War, starting with M'Quve's action at Odessa in early November. Similar attempts are recounted in side stories like Blue Destiny and Rise from the Ashes (where a Zeon Special Forces team tries to raid Torrington and seize its nukes). The stated rationale for the creation of the Gundam GP02A is that Zeon's repeated attempts to violate the nuclear ban convinced the Federation to plan for the worst case scenario, just in case.

An interesting question is where did the Zeons get their nukes? The difficulty of obtaining fission materials like uranium and plutonium may be a moot point, though, if all the Zeon weapons are fusion bombs. The missile that M'Quve launches, for example, is described as a "hydrogen bomb." And the warhead loaded into the GP02A - a pre-war model retrieved from the vaults at Torrington - is described in the 0083 novels as a fusion type, which uses laser ignition (rather than an initial fission reaction) to trigger a deuterium fusion reaction. Perhaps the warheads used in the Zaku bazooka work along the same lines.

Now for a little Q&A

Why didn't they just drop nukes on Jaburo? Jaburo's underground location protects it from surface-level nuclear attacks, so you can't just drop nukes on it and expect to do any real damage. In order to get at the vulnerable underside, you'd need to know where the main entrances are, and that's a closely guarded secret up until Char spots the White Base landing there. In the meantime, Zeon just carries out conventional bombing runs as an annoyance, while the Federation is doing the same thing to Zeon's California Base. Like the guard post crew say, everyone's just earning their paychecks.

But wouldn't it burn down all the forests? Sure. Expose the caves to Zeon attack? Don't think so. Nukes are powerful, but they wouldn't bust open an underground cave complex, and the doors to the ship docks would likely either be undamaged or sealed shut as a result. That's why the Federation put Jaburo there in the first place.

There are, of course, other ways to strip off Jaburo's ground cover and find the entrances. In Kondo's Gundam 0079 comic, he has the Zeons using fuel-air explosives to expose the docks. But that's only after Char has reported their approximate location; before that, I guess there was just too much ground to cover for this to be practical.

Why a colony drop then? The goal of the colony drop Zeon carried out at the start of the war was to do so much damage that even Jaburo's underground caves would be destroyed. But nukes and colony drops alike were banned by the Antarctic Treaty one month into the war... which is why I'm a little nonplussed by the recent series of responses saying "well, why didn't Zeon just nuke everything in sight?" People who live in glass colonies shouldn't throw nuclear stones.

If Zeon was in such a superior position why did they sign the treaty? We can probably put it down to military exhaustion; after attempting two colony drops and losing many of its best pilots, Zeon would have been in no position to immediately invade Earth and stage an all-out invasion of the Federation's headquarters. At that point, I think their theory was that the Federation was already sufficiently intimidated that it would simply sue for peace.

As it turned out, the Federation didn't surrender largely thanks to Revil's escape and his morale-boosting speech. The surrender negotiations ended up creating the Antarctic Treaty, and the use of nuclear weapons was outlawed. After that, for Zeon to launch a nuclear attack on Jaburo - even for the mere purpose of stripping off its ground cover and exposing the entrances, which I doubt would have worked anyway - would have been to invite immediate retaliation in kind. Like they say, "If you strike at a king, you must kill him." A wounded Federation, retaliating with its entire nuclear arsenal for a treacherous assault on its headquarters, could have killed an awful lot of Zeons. Even Gihren, unscrupulous as he was, preferred to devise new weapons to get around the treaty rather than rashly breaking it.

I don't think the Antarctic Treaty's provisions were strictly tactical. Like it says in the opening narration of the original Gundam series, "In one month of fighting... half the total population was killed. People were horrified by their own actions..." Practically speaking, it wouldn't have been possible to continue unrestrained warfare at that level without killing off the other half of the population. So in a sense, the treaty was created to make the continuation of the One-Year War possible. Certainly, given the amount of nuclear weapons both sides had at their disposal, I doubt either one of them would have run out before the entire Earth sphere was reduced to glowing rubble. (They say that a nuclear gap is when your side can only blow up the Earth five times over, and the other guys can go for seven...)

Given the hazards of violating the Antarctic Treaty, one wonders why M'Quve took the risk of using a nuke at Odessa, which wasn't a truly vital stronghold anyway. Might Kycilia - whose minions are responsible for all of Zeon's attempts at using nuclear weapons - have been deliberately trying to break the treaty she helped negotiate? Kycilia may be unscrupulous, but she's neither stupid nor politically clumsy.

How did Side 6 survive the OYW? Side 6 declared itself neutral on January 11, U.C.0079, four days before the Battle of Loum and twenty days before the Antarctic Treaty was signed. The treaty merely formalized how the combatants were supposed to treat such neutral parties.

In any even, Side 6 had been effectively Zeon-aligned even before the war; its leaders were pretty cozy with the Principality, and it was already hosting much of Kycilia Zabi's intelligence-gathering operation. That's why Zeon didn't attack it at the start of the war, as were all the other Sides except the faraway Side 7. (Side 5 was attacked in the opening round, but the Federation garrison was able to repel the attack and survive until the Battle of Loum.) Its declaration of neutrality was really just a formality.

Mark Simmon Gundam Guru