Although indispensable for hastening the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, United States policy entailed contradictions that jeopardised its domestic ratification. Many senators opposed their government's adherence to the Hughes Doctrine of 1924, requiring sovereignty claims to be based on occupation rather than exploration. US exploration, they knew, had covered more territory than the combined total of the seven nation-states that already had declared their rights based on criteria other than occupation. The Department of State appreciated that public opinion, whether related to Antarctica, the Cold War, or both, might generate congressional pressure to reverse the non-claimant stance and thereby derail the 12-power negotiations even before they reached the conference stage. This article presents evident and hypothetical consequences of policymakers' refusal to address this dilemma, the likelihood of which accompanied an increasingly pro-claimant stance among journalists, as well as the personal exasperation of Admiral Richard E. Byrd.