Faraday base seeks buyer

March 10, 1995

The British Antarctic Survey has given the Ukrainian government until the end of April to decide whether it wants to take over the Faraday base in Graham Land.

It has told the Ukrainians that if a contract is not signed by then, it will begin to close down the base and prepare for its demolition and removal.

The BAS is pulling out of Faraday to free resources for other parts of its research programme, but closure would mean that long-term geomagnetic and ionosphere monitoring would either be wound up or be left to automatic devices.

As a result the BAS began the search for a possible "buyer" who would in return continue the programmes and supply the results to the BAS.

South Korea was a potential candidate, but eventually withdrew leaving the field for Ukraine, which had had a considerable input in the old Soviet Antarctic expedition.

Relations between Ukrainian and Russian scientists remain cordial but, the Russian government insists, they must pay their way in hard currency. Ukrainian requests to take over one of the old Soviet bases received no answer from the Russian government, which considers all ex-Soviet property outside the former USSR to have been inherited by Russia.

Negotiations between the BAS and the new Ukrainian Antarctic Research Centre in Kiev went forward briskly in the first half of 1994, and a memorandum of understanding was signed.

Leonid Kravchuk, the then president, was reported to support the Ukrainian bid but Leonid Kuchma, Kravchuk's successor, has not yet managed to conclude an agreement.

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