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article imageCanada, Russia at odds over claims to North Pole

By Martin Laine     Dec 10, 2013 in Politics
Within 24 hours of yesterday’s statement by Canada's Foreign Minister that his government will lay claim to the North Pole, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military to boost its presence in the region to bolster its own claim to the region.
“What we want to do is claim the biggest area possible for Canada,” Foreign Minister John Baird said at a news conference in Ottawa yesterday. It was the first time a Canadian government official had said publicly that Canada intended to claim a large area of the Arctic, including the geographic North Pole, according to an article in the Globe and Mail.
Interest in the region has heightened with the discovery of vast deposits of oil and natural gas. With the melting of the polar ice cap, those deposits have become much more accessible.
Under a 1982 UN convention, a nation can claim up to 200 nautical miles of its shoreline as its territory. However, if it can be shown that a country’s continental shelf extends beyond that limit, it can apply to have its territorial claim extended, according to the National Geographic Newswatch website.
In order for Canada to extend its territorial reach to include the North Pole, its claim must be accepted by the United Nations Commission on the Limits on the Continental Shelf. However, Baird said a seabed survey is not yet ready for submission. Only a partial survey had been submitted by a Dec. 6 deadline.
Baird said a full survey will be submitted at a later date, once it is completed.
“We have asked our officials and scientists to do additional and necessary work to ensure that a submission for the full extent of the continental shelf in the Arctic includes Canada’s claim to the North Pole.
Putin reacted swiftly, telling a Defense Ministry meeting this morning that they should have “all levers for its security and national interest,” according to an article of the Radio Free Europe website. Russia had submitted its own claim to the region in 2006.
To further complicate matter, both Norway and Denmark – because of its relationship with Greenland as an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark -have submitted their own claims. There is no definite date set for the UN commission to settle these claims.
North Pole: Winter ice cover
North Pole: Winter ice cover
North Pole Environmental Observatory
More about North pole, Arctic resources, John baird
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