South Korea's announcement at last week’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Panama City that it intended to commence a "scientific whaling" program came as a complete surprise.

Ever since the world-wide moratorium on commercial whaling began in 1986, only three countries have seriously challenged its legitimacy. Iceland and Norway still undertake whaling in the North Atlantic, but have done so under a number of exceptions to the International Convention on the Regulation on Whaling. That Convention, which was adopted in 1946, remains the principal international treaty dealing with whaling on the world’s oceans.