The Antarctic Treaty was first signed in 1959 by 12 nations including the United States, and has now been signed by 44 countries, including all those most likely to have dealings with the Antarctic continent. The treaty is intended to ensure that Antarctic is used only for non-military purposes, and to foster a tradition of scientific research and collaboration among countries that seek to explore the Antarctic environment. The treaty also prohibits testing nuclear weapons or disposing of nuclear waste in Antarctica. The Antarctic Treaty is an important legal document that has helped protect the fragile environment in the southernmost part of the world for decades; it is to be hoped that this tradition of protection will continue indefinitely into the future.
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