Monday, October 08, 2007

Who owns the North Pole - Part 9


Reported by the BBC , in another sign of potential friction in the warming Arctic, Canada has warned that it will step up patrols of the North West Passage . Canada maintains the waterway that connects the Atlantic with the Pacific lies within its territorial waters and that it can bar transit there. The retreating ice, coupled with rising costs of petroleum, has set off maneuvering among nations bordering the Arctic as each attempts to extend claims to the continental shelf where oil might be found.


The Canadian Coast Guard is preparing to send one its research vessels, the Amundsen, through the North West Passage with about 40 scientists on board. Equipped with a remotely operated robot submarine and a sonar system, the ship will undertake a detailed survey of the sea-bed - essential if the waterway is to become more open to commercial shipping.
Bush is pushing the Senate to ratify a long-spurned high seas treaty that has gained new relevance with the melting of the polar ice cap and anticipated competition for the oil that lies below. Ex-President Reagan opposed the treaty because of a section dealing with deep seabed mining. Even after that section was overhauled in 1994 to satisfy U.S. concerns and President Clinton signed it, Congress has showed little interest in ratification. Opponents say it would impinge on U.S. military and economic sovereignty.
But , "Far from threatening our sovereignty, the convention allows us to secure and extend our sovereign rights," said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Sen. Joseph Biden

And "Currently, as a nonparty, the United States is not in a position to maximize its sovereign rights in the Arctic or elsewhere," Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte said.
Paul Kelly, a former vice president of an oil drilling company, now president of Kelly Energy Consultants in Houston expects "substantial" additions to U.S. territory once the United States joins the treaty.

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