The Antarctic Treaty states that:
- The use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons is prohibited.
- Dropping space colonies or large asteroids onto Earth is prohibited.
- All prisoners of war must be treated humanely (although forced labor may be legal).
- All neutral territories must be respected and combat operations in these regions are prohibited. The neutrality at Side 6 was recognized and respected.
Events Leading to the Treaty
Prior to the treaty are a series of events happening before the original Gundam TV series Mobile Suit Gundam. First told in Gundam Century in a detailed manner, the first and second chapter, titled Zeon mobile forces and Background of Guerrilla warfare, mentions small conflicts of Guerrilla warfare started by Principality of Zeon of Side 3 to claim independence from the Earth Federation and on the third chapter, titled Operation British, is a detailed version of the opening narration of Mobile Suit Gundam, where Zeon declared an all-out war on the Earth Federation government on January 3, U.C. 0079, starting the One Year War. During the battle, Zeon forces gassed entire colonies, killing billion people, and both sides used nuclear warheads in the battle. With the element of surprise and their nuclear-powered Zaku mobile suits, the Zeon forces overwhelmed the Federation colonial garrisons. The Zeon forces then launched Operation British, attempting to drop a depopulated colony cylinder onto the Federation's Jaburo HQ in South America. However, the Earth Federation Space Force engaged the Zeon forces on the Earth's orbit, and the battle caused the colony cylinder to disintegrate. The fourth chapter, Disaster, follows the impact on the largest chunk that hit Sydney, Australia and wiped out 16% of the continent, creating a 300-mile crater. The first week of war (known as the One Week War) resulted in the partial destruction of Side 1, 2 and 4, and catastrophic climate change on Earth, killing a fifth of Earth federation population.
Gundam Century then jumps to the events happening in the beginning of Mobile Suit Gundam, yet Gundam Officials specifies in detail that after the failure in missing the primary target, Zeon forces then attempted to repeat Operation British by hijacking a colony in Side 5 (also known as Loum). The Earth Federation's 1st Combine Fleet, under General Revil, set out to intercept the Zeon fleet. The two forces engaged at Side 5 on January 15, and due to Zeon's tactical advantage with their mobile suits, the Battle of Loum ended in the destruction of 80% of the Federation's 1st fleet and the capture of General Revil.
Although actually a pyrrhic victory, the outcome of the battle gave the Principality a huge propaganda advantage. With the Earth Federation severely demoralized, Gihren Zabi attempted to frighten the Federation into submission by threatening to drop the space fortress Luna II on Jaburo. The two side met in Antarctica to discuss the terms of Earth Federation's surrender. However, General Revil escaped with the help of Federal agents and sympathizers within Zeon, arriving at Luna II just in time to broadcast his famous "Zeon is exhausted" speech, citing what he had seen in Side 3 and exposing Gihren Zabi's bluff. Regaining the spirit to fight on, the Earth Federation rejected all terms of surrender, but agreed to discuss on issues regarding the rules of war. On January 31, U.C. 0079, both sides agreed on the treaty.
Note: According to Origin, Revil's escape was actually orchestrated by the Zabis (Purposely delayed his show-trial, then arranged it such that it was easy for Federation to rescue Revil), in order to shorten the war and thus getting a chance to conquer Earth (and gain access to its natural resources) without a costly invasion. The escape was nearly foiled by Char Aznable, who intercepted Revil's fleeing craft, but allowed him to escape.
In the Gundam Encyclopedia:"Gundam Officials", the editor, Yuka Minakawa, quoted the original author of Mobile Suit Gundam, Yoshiyuki Tomino, in the Antarctic Treaty section in page 532, that the Federation needed the treaty to be signed because:
- They had no effective way of defending themselves from colony drops, especially against the tactical advantage of Zeon mobile suits at the time.
- They knew Zeon's main weakness was the scarcity of mineral resources, and prolonging the war meant taking the lead in mass-production of ships and weapons, thus a long-term strategic advantage.
- They needed time to catch up with their own mobile suit development.
The same section also states the Principality of Zeon agreed to the treaty in light of the following factors:
- The continual use of weapons of mass-destruction were also dangerous to Zeon, as the Federation Forces could retaliate back with NBC strikes. The EFSF had enough nuclear warheads stored in Luna II to completely annihilate Side 3 (a few thousand according to Gundam Officials).
- The banning of weapons of mass destruction meant that conventional/mobile warfare would be the norm. With their mobile suits, Zeon would have the tactical advantage — they already outpaced the Earth Federation in MS development, having successfully deployed their Zakus in real combat (although the Federation engineers proposed their own mobile suit research project in U.C. 0078, the Project V didn't formally start until after the Battle of Loum, and the mass deployment of Federation mobile suits didn't appear until November, U.C. 0079).
- The treaty allowed Zeon to bring the battlefront down to the surface of Earth. Surface access was considered paramount because in a prolonged war scenario their raw material resources were insufficient (Zeon's national strength was only 1/30 compared to the Federation), and they soon after started various mining operations on Earth (the biggest being the M'Quve mining operations near Odessa). This is especially evident in Origin, where Revil's escape was actually orchestrated by the Zabis.
Violations of the treaty
Within the multiple storylines, the Antarctic Treaty did not remain in effect after the end of the war (in U.C. 0080) but was effectively broken many times:
- U.C. 0079: Operation Odessa: Zeon CO M'Quve, after realizing the Eastern and Western European theaters were lost, launched a nuclear missile at the advancing Federation forces as he retreated. The missile was successfully intercepted by Amuro Ray in the RX-78-2 Gundam. (Mobile Suit Gundam TV series storyline)
- U.C. 0079: After Operation Odessa, Zeon Rear Admiral Yuri Kellerne used a nuclear missile to cover the retreat of his forces under the pretense that it was a fuel-air bomb. (08th MS Team)
- U.C. 0079: In the waning days of the war, Zeon covert ops forces under the command of Zeon commander Killing plan a nuclear strike against the Side 6 colony Libot, where the RX-78NT-1 Gundam "Alex" is under development. Patrolling Federation vessels intercept Killing's forces before the strike can be executed, saving the colony inhabitants. (Mobile Suit Gundam 0080:War in the Pocket)
- U.C. 0083: The RX-78GP02A Gundam "Physalis" was developed by Anaheim Electronics for the Earth Federation for the sole purpose of a nuclear attack. The unit was stolen by the Delaz Fleet and presented to the Earth Sphere as a clear violation of the treaty . It should be noted that the development of nuclear weapons isn't a violation of the treaty (the treaty only restricts the use of them), and by this time the Antarctic Treaty had long been superseded, but the Delaz Fleet was one of many Zeon remnants that believed the surrender of Zeon at the end of the One Year War was illegitimate, and thus the war had not ended and the treaty was still in effect. Ironically, by using the nuclear warhead of the GP02A on the EFSF fleet, the Delaz Fleet are the ones who violated the treaty instead.
The Antarctic Treaty was defunct at the end of the One Year War, succeeded by the Granada Accords. According to Gundam Sentinel, the Granada Accords reaffirmed the ban on nuclear weapons, as well as placed additional restrictions on the use of Minovsky Particles, banning its military use aside from fusion reactor shielding, mega-particle cannons, and I-field barriers. This is due to the fact that unrestrained use of Minovsky Particles during the One Year War left large amounts of remnant particles scattered throughout space, which severely interfered with communications even after the end of the war. This led to the Minovsky Particle being labelled as a dangerous pollutant after the war.
- (1981-09-22) Gekkan Out Bessatsu "Sora Kakeru Senshi-tachi Gundam Century". Minori Shobō. ISBN 4-87777-028-3. (ja)
- Universal Century :: Glossary :: Miscellaneous Terms :: One Week Battle. Gundam Official. Retrieved on 2007-11-04.
- Gundam Officials, P.532 Antarctic Treaty, (2001-03-21) Kidō Senshi Gundam Kōshiki Hyakka Jiten "Gundam Officials". Kōdansha. ISBN 4-06-330110-9. (ja)
- Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory Episode 5, Gundam, to the Sea of Stars