Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Russia's growing military presence in the Arctic is a concern and Canada should not get complacent about it, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. Russia is busy rebuilding former Soviet-era military bases in its north, and has a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines and icebreakers patrolling its waters. Russian planes have also tested the boundaries of Canadian airspace, Harper said. "I just think we should not be complacent, because we have seen over the period that President Putin has been in power just a gradual growing in aggressiveness of his government toward neighbours and the gradual military assertiveness of that country, and I just think it's something we should never be too at ease about."
In the coming days, the prime minister will take part in a series of military manoeuvres in the Northwest Passage meant to assert Canada's Arctic sovereignty. Harper is scheduled to observe the Canadian Armed Forces’ annual military exercises near Baffin Island. Operation Nanook, now in its seventh year, is meant to demonstrate Canada’s ability to respond to threats and emergencies in its northern waters — including working with Denmark, the United States and territorial governments.
The Canadian Forces will develop a network of sites throughout the Arctic in order to stockpile equipment if needed and move troops and gear quickly into the region in case of emergency, according to documents obtained by Postmedia News. The military hopes to have the sites in place by 2018. “A series of Northern Operations Hubs will be created with the view to facilitate initial rapid deployment and up to 30 days sustained operations in the North,” wrote Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare in outlining his plan. Beare is head of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, responsible for military operations both at home and abroad.
Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced that the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent and CCGS Terry Fox were heading north to conduct scientific surveys in support of a claim to the North Pole. Like all waters more than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from shore, the ocean at the North Pole is international. The only sovereign rights that could possible exist concern seabed resources. Yet according to Mr. Harper, claiming the North Pole is central to defending Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.
Although Canada has rights over extensive areas of seabed elsewhere in the Arctic Ocean, it has no basis for a claim at the North Pole. This is because international law uses the “equidistance” principle to delimit maritime boundaries. According to this principle, boundaries between adjacent coastal states are drawn along a line, every point of which is an equal distance from the respective shores.
In 2012, Canada and Denmark used the equidistance principle to delimit a boundary 200 nautical miles into the Lincoln Sea, north of Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Denmark’s Greenland.Although the boundary does not extend beyond 200 nautical miles, the principle of equidistance will serve as the basis for an eventual agreement separating rights beyond this point. Like it or not, the North Pole falls on the Danish side of the equidistance line – it will never be Canadian. Harper knows that Canada’s claim will fail. But he also knows that the failure will emerge only after he leaves office. In the meantime, the North Pole presents him with an opportunity to rehabilitate his image as a champion of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty.
A separate issue concerns the extent of Canada’s rights along the Lomonosov Ridge. This underwater mountain range runs from Ellesmere Island and Greenland toward Russia’s New Siberian Islands. The Lomonosov Ridge passes near but not over the North Pole, which remains off to the Danish side of the Arctic Ocean. According to international law, Canada, Denmark, and Russia may assert rights over this submarine structure if they are able to scientifically demonstrate that the formation is a “natural prolongation” of their land mass. Canadian and Danish scientists believe the Lomonosov Ridge is a prolongation of both Ellesmere Island and Greenland, while Russian scientists believe the Lomonosov Ridge is a prolongation of Asia. Scientists on both sides may well be right, since North America and Asia were once a single continent. Consequently, Canada, Denmark, and Russia could all have legitimate claims over the Lomonosov Ridge.
From here and here
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Arctic Council chair Leona Aglukkaq officially announced Monday Canada’s claim to the extended continental shelf in the Arctic. It was reported by The Globe and Mail last week that Prime Minister Stephen Harper requested a government board charged with assessing Canada’s claims beyond its territorial waterways, per United Nations rules, to seek a more expansive stake of Arctic area to include the North Pole.
"We have asked our officials and scientists to do additional work 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," Baird said during a press conference at the House of Commons.
The North Pole is 817 kilometers north of Canada’s - and the world’s - northernmost settlement, Alert, Nunavut. The town is home to a Canadian Forces station and Environment Canada station.
"Fundamentally, we are drawing the last lines of Canada. We are defending our sovereignty," Aglukkaq said, according to CBC News.
Canada has spent nearly US$200 million on the scientific-discovery process of the area, including dozens of icebreaker and helicopter trips for teams of scientists. An unmanned submarine was used to collect data below the frigid Arctic water. About 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie in the largely untapped 18-million-square-mile Arctic region, according to the US Geological Survey, making up about 10 percent of the world's petroleum resources. The dominant portion of these resources are hidden beneath the ice that is shared between five nations bordering the Arctic: Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Russian Federation and the US.
Both Russia and Canada say the resource-abundant Lomonosov Ridge, below the ocean and close to the geographic North Pole, is a natural extension of their continental shelves.
“As for the Arctic, there are not only large economic interests for the country – a huge amount of mineral resources, oil and gas,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week, underlining his nation’s interests in the region. “But there lies a very important part of our defense capabilities.”
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In 2013, Canada will begin chairing a two-year term of the Arctic Council, a grouping of eight nations working together to manage the development of the Arctic as an economically and strategically important global region. With the opening of new and large opportunities for economic exploitation and resource plundering, the states with territory in the Arctic have become increasingly aggressive in their military posturing in the region, “increasingly designed for combat rather than policing,” according to a study by the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions. The report noted: “Although the pursuit of co-operation is the stated priority, most of the Arctic states have begun to rebuild and modernize their military capabilities in the region.”
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been publicly making aggressive statements about competition in the Arctic, particularly in relation to Russia. In private, however, Harper had been making different claims. As revealed by Wikileaks, Harper expressed the message to the Secretary-General of NATO that there was no real military threat in the Arctic, instead expressing the perspective that, “Canada has a good working relationship with Russia with respect to the Arctic, and a NATO presence could backfire by exacerbating tensions.” Harper added, according to the released cables, “that there is no likelihood of Arctic states going to war, but that some non-Arctic members favoured a NATO role in the Arctic because it would afford them influence in an area where ‘they don’t belong’.” All the public statements and aggressive military stances in the region have, however, helped to sway public opinion into believing that there is a “security or sovereignty threat to the northern border,” and thus justify increased expansion into the region for exploitation. The issue is not one ofsecurity, but of securing resources (for corporations, no doubt). One released cable from 2009 relayed this point accurately, noting that Canada’s defense plan to build six Arctic Patrol ships for the navy was “an example of a requirement driven by political rather than military imperatives, since the navy did not request these patrol ships. The Conservatives have nonetheless long found domestic political capital in asserting Canada’s ‘Arctic Sovereignty’.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
The report is premised on the priority that the Conservative government has placed on a more rigorous defence of Canada's territorial sovereignty in the North, where countries including Russia, Denmark and the United States are currently staking their claims to land and underwater territory. “To maintain its sovereignty over its northern region, Canada will need to develop enforcement and surveillance capabilities for the Arctic,” the report says. To that end, it envisions scenarios that could call for a military response in the North. “To quickly and effectively respond to these scenarios, the CF would need to improve its personnel and equipment readiness for deployment in the North.”
Navy Lt. Greg Menzies said “The Canadian Forces are ready to execute all potential military tasks in Canada's North and we're always looking at ways to improve our response to possible threats in the North. ”
The total budget for its annual northern exercise, Operation Nanook — which involves moving ships, aircraft, helicopters and about 1,000 personnel into the Arctic Circle — is about $15 million.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The international survey – conducted by EKOS Research for the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation – found that a majority of Canadians see Arctic sovereignty as the country’s top foreign-policy priority; they also believe military resources should be shifted to the North, even if it means taking them away from global conflicts.
Harper has made the Arctic a major political platform, taking every opportunity to remind Canadians that his government is determined to defend this country’s sovereignty in the Far North. The poll’s findings would suggest that Canadians have embraced his rhetoric.
“It is something that allows him to play the nationalism card, particularly since it resonates with the population,” said Brian MacDonald, a senior defence analyst with the Conference of Defence Associations.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
"We're not doing OK," said Lt. Cmdr. Nahshon Almandmoss "We definitely don't have the infrastructure available to operate for an extended period of time in the Arctic in the summer, much less in the winter when it's more critical for logistical purposes."
In a report last September, the Government Accountability Office said the Coast Guard lacks adequate infrastructure or equipment in the Arctic.
"With 20 percent of the yet-to-be-discovered oil, gas and minerals remaining in the world in the Arctic, the U.S. can't risk losing it," said Rear Adm. Christopher C. Colvin, commander of Alaska's 17th Coast Guard District, from Anchorage.
The Arctic nations - Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States - have been preparing to claim larger chunks of territory under a clause in the treaty that governs the world's waters. Non-Arctic nations like China and South Korea also have been eyeing the economic potential in the far north. The only international treaty that applies to the Arctic is the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, ratified by more than 150 nations. But although it helped draft the convention and subsequent revisions, the United States has not ratified the treaty; conservatives say it impinges on U.S. national sovereignty. Under the treaty, a nation that can prove its continental shelf extends past the current boundary of 200 miles off its coastline can be granted up to 150 additional miles of seabed. Like other Arctic countries, the United States is gathering scientific evidence for its claim to an extended continental shelf in the Arctic. Russia has been preparing a territory claim that would absorb nearly half of the Arctic into its possession
"An extra 150 miles of shelf can be billions or trillions of dollars in resources," said Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, commander of Alaskan Command, Joint Task Force Alaska, Alaskan North American Defense Region and the 11th Air Force.
In 2007, Russia planted a flag in the waters below the North Pole. Canada planted one nearby soon after. Denmark placed its flag on the north's contested Han Island (which Canada promptly removed and delivered back to Danish officials.) America and Canada cooperated on scientific and military operations last summer. Canada bought fleets of F-35 fighter jets and is building a new base along its Arctic coast. Russia is building new icebreakers and new nuclear-power stations on its north coast.
Nations are taking steps to position themselves.
Friday, August 20, 2010
"Let me be clear, the number one priority of our northern strategy is the promotion and protection of Canadian sovereignty in the north," said Prime Minister Stephen Harper, calling it "non-negotiable."
Canada claims a large swath of the Arctic including the Northwest Passage, which could become an important shipping link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as climate change melts away the northern ice cap. It claims that the Northwest Passage is a domestic waterway.Russia continues to compete for the North Pole and the Northern Sea Route -- a passage that stretches from Asia to Europe across northern Russia.
Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, has wrapped up his participation in Operation NANOOK 10, the centrepiece of three major sovereignty operations conducted every year by the Canadian Forces (CF) in Canada's North explaining that "Exercising Canada's Arctic sovereignty is a key element of the Canada First Defence Strategy, and operations such as NANOOK enable the Canadian Forces and our whole-of-government partners to better deal with challenges in the North. Operation NANOOK 10 enhances the Canadian Forces' interoperability with other government departments and agencies and builds our collective capacity to respond, in a timely and effective manner, to safety and security threats or emergencies."
Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told reporters Canada's claim to be an Arctic power is based on its having historically had people living in the Far North, as well as its more recent economic development, environmental efforts and military patrols.
Between 1953 and 1956, 87 Inuit members of 19 families were plucked from homes and familiar lives around Inukjuak, on the northeast shore of Hudson Bay, and plunked down 2,000 km farther north, in empty places now known as Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord. Behind some official nonsense spouted at the time in praise of hardy self-reliance lurked Ottawa's real motive: demonstrating Arctic sovereignty by populating the terrain.“The Government of Canada recognizes that these communities have contributed to a strong Canadian presence in the High Arctic,” Federal Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan said
These people were forced to move from a land where they lived off game such as caribou, and were dumped unceremoniously in an area without housing and any kind of food supply where there was so little food that some of them died, and where they had to make it through the winters in igloos and muskox-hide tents. The Inuit knew little of the land where they were resettled. They had to adapt to the constant darkness of the winter months and temperatures 20 degrees colder than the community they left. Nor were they aware that they would be separated into two communities once they arrived in the High Arctic
Duncan delivered an official apology. Those words were empty, as all such apologies are. Saying "we're sorry" on behalf of people now dead to people who are no longer around to hear, amounts to no more than sanctimonious and politically-correct cant. Nothing will undo the psychological trauma done to those people and the ripple effect it has had down the years through their descendants
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Fresh tensions between Canada and Russia emerged Wednesday after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told a session of his Security Council that his country must be prepared to defend its claims to Arctic mineral riches. Medvedev predicted climate change will spark further conflicts as ice melts, exposing new areas for exploration."Other polar nations already have taken active steps to expand their scientific research as well as economic and even military presence in the Arctic," he told a session of the presidential Security Council.
"Regrettably, we have seen attempts to limit Russia's access to the exploration and development of the Arctic mineral resources," he said. "That's absolutely inadmissible from the legal viewpoint and unfair given our nation's geographical location and history."
In a direct response, Canada said it would reassert its sovereignty over the Far North.
"Canada's sovereignty over lands, islands and waters of the Canadian Arctic is long-standing, well-established and based on historical title," Catherine Loubier, spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, told The Canadian Press.
"This government is dedicated to fulfilling the North's true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada. We take our responsibility for the future of the region seriously."
Loubier noted that Canada has committed to building a "world-class" High Arctic research station, will continue to map "our northern resources and waters," and is taking action to reduce pollution and increase marine safety. The government has also announced a new fleet of Arctic patrol ships, a deep water port, and is expanding and re-equipping the Canadian Rangers.
Interest in the Arctic region has intensified in recent years as global warming thaws waterways once choked with ice almost year-round and makes hydrocarbon deposits under the Arctic Ocean increasingly accessible. Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway all scramble to lay claim to parts of the underwater territory in the region, which is estimated to hold more than a quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas reserves.Scott Borgerson from the US Council for Foreign Relations is quoted as saying the north coast of Alaska may soon "resemble the coast of Louisiana, lit by the lights of ships and oil rigs." Borgerson predicts that some Alaskan ports may become a new Singapore.a single Chinese container ship using the Northwest Passage instead of the Panama Canal could save $2 million each way between Shanghai and New York. "Up to 25% of the Earth's shipping may, in our lifetime, be sailing the polar route," according to Politics Daily.
A leading Inuit group protested not being invited to an Arctic foreign ministers meeting just outside of Ottawa on March 29. Duane Smith, head of the Canadian branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Council, which lobbies for the interests of northern peoples, said his group asked to join the talks, but was rebuffed .
"Anything and everything they're going to discuss . . . is going to affect the Inuit in one way or another. We're the ones who are living right in that area, so that's why we think we should be involved as well," Smith said.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
"We claim it to be part of our internal waters, which gives us a lot more authority and control over it," he told CBC News
The United States and Europe have claimed that the Northwest Passage is an international waterway, while Canada has held its position that it's an internal passage.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Canada is launching a series of military exercises in the Arctic far-north region of the country.The so-called sovereignty operation is designed to show a visible presence in the resource-rich area, amid competing claims among other nations.Asserting Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic has been a priority for Mr Harper's conservative government.
Operation Nanook will see the Canadian Armed Forces involved in sea, land and airforce operations in the country's eastern Arctic territory.
Once thought a barren region, a number of countries with competing claims have been carefully mapping the area around the North Pole, thought to be rich in minerals and natural resources.
Canada is also concerned by the melting of ice each year through the fabled Northwest Passage, blamed by scientists on global warming. The United States government has said that it does not recognise exclusive Canadian rights to the waterway, that could be a link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans
Sunday, April 12, 2009
The First Battalion, The Royal New Brunswick Regiment is one of four reserve units from across the country designated to form the spine of a new Arctic force to be created over the next five years. Joining the 1RNBR will be the Voltigeurs de Quebec, Ontario's Grey and Simcoe Foresters, and Royal Winnipeg Rifles. To complement the creation of the unit, the military will continue with its plans to expand the Canadian Rangers, a group composed of First Nations and Inuit reservists. By 2012, those numbers are expected to reach 5,000 personnel. Should an incident occur in the Arctic, the soldiers would be available to respond.
Col. Greg MacCallum, commander of 37 Brigade Group , said the strategic significance of forming the new units is to exercise sovereignty and ownership of the Arctic.
"You do that, at least in part, by being able to project military forces into that region to show a presence and to show a capability and intent to exercise ownership of it."
Monday, August 18, 2008
Adm. Thad W. Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard, who toured Alaska's Arctic shores two weeks ago with the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, said that whatever mix of natural and human factors is causing the ice retreats, the Arctic is clearly opening to commerce — and potential conflict and hazards — like never before.
Meantime, a resurgent Russia has been busy expanding its fleet of large ocean-going icebreakers to around 14, launching a conventional icebreaker in May and last year, the world's largest icebreaker named 50 Years of Victory, the newest of its seven nuclear-powered, pole-hardy ships. At the same time, the Russians are developing the means to build offshore platforms that can move from field to field, can withstand the new ice conditions of the North and can condense gas on site to a liquefied state ready to be loaded on to carriers. Only the Russians are currently developing ways to ship both oil and gas from Arctic offshore platforms.
But surely the major North American companies must now be looking at the possibility of using a similar system. If they are built on the American side of the Arctic, Canada can expect the sovereignty crisis of 1969 and 1970 to be renewed. There have been no changes in either the American or Canadian position about the passage of tankers through the Northwest Passage. If the Americans develop a shipping capability and decide to send their vessels to the east, they would need to go through Canadian waters. They would probably not be any more willing to ask Canada's permission than they were in 1969.
On the other hand, if the extraction platforms are placed on the Canadian side — and the ice-capable tankers leave from Canadian locations — there will be no sovereignty problem, but Canada will still have a problem of control. Our ability to assert control in our northern waters is limited. Canada's Coast Guard's icebreaking fleet is small and aging; its navy has a very limited ability to go north. The current Canadian government has promised to build six to eight naval Arctic offshore patrol vessels and to replace the largest and oldest Coast Guard icebreakers.
"To be able to protect the Arctic archipelago properly, the waters have to be considered our internal waters. Nobody recognizes that. In order to enforce our position, we need tools to do that," said retired colonel Pierre Leblanc, former commander of the Canadian Forces' Northern Area.
There are already more than 400 oil and gas fields north of the Arctic Circle. Shell has quietly spent $2bn (£1bn) acquiring drilling leases off Alaska. ExxonMobil and BP have spent huge sums on exploration rights off Canada. The US government lifted a 17-year ban on offshore drilling to make the US less reliant on imports. The powers that border the Arctic – Canada, the United States, Russia, Norway and Denmark – have begun jostling for advantage. the United States Geological Survey – suggesting that the region contains about one-third of the world's undiscovered gas and about one-sixth of its undiscovered oil
Monday, October 08, 2007
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.
Friday, August 10, 2007
The month-long Danish expedition will study the Lomonosov Ridge. Russia believes the underwater feature is linked to its territory. Denmark , however , will investigate the ridge to see if it is geologically connected to Greenland which is a Danish territory.
The team plans to collect bathymetric, gravity and seismic data to map the seabed under the ice, according to a Danish science and technology ministry statement on the expedition.
"The preliminary investigations done so far are very promising," Denmark's minister of science, technology and innovation said "There are things suggesting that Denmark could be given the North Pole."
We will be collecting data for a possible (sovereignty) demand," expedition leader Marcussen said.
In Ottawa, the Danish ambassador to Canada, Poul Kristensen stated "it's no secret that Denmark, on behalf of Greenland" has interests in the Arctic and "of course, potentially, we can make claims."
Now the Danes - still at odds with Canada over the ownership of tiny Hans Island in the boundary waters between Ellesmere Island and Danish-controlled Greenland - are again pressing their claims to the potentially lucrative seafloor area around the North Pole.
Kristensen said Friday that "we are speaking of values in the billions" when it comes to potential Arctic oil, "and therefore the area, of course, is of interest to us."
Prime Minister Harper announced Canada will install a new army training center and a deep water port. Canada will build two new military facilities in the Arctic in a move to assert sovereignty over the contested region . Resolute Bay will be home to a new army training center for cold-weather fighting . The new deep sea port will be built for navy and civilian purposes on the north end of Baffin Island, in the abandoned old zinc-mining village of Nanisivik. Harper also announced the 4,100-member Canadian Rangers patrol will be increased by another 900 members. He stood alongside Defense Minister Gordon O'Connor and a group of Rangers — a rifle-toting, Inuit volunteer force.
"Protecting national sovereignty, the integrity of our borders, is the first and foremost responsibility of a national government, a responsibility which has too often been neglected," Harper said,
The North Pole seabed is not currently regarded as part of any single country's territory and is governed instead by complex international agreements. But for how much longer , we wonder . We also note that all this scientific investigation is not to further scienctific knowledge in geography and geology but to further business and commercial interests . Science becomes mercenary . Instead of acting in the interests of humanity , it represents the pecuniary interests of nation states .
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Canada raised the stakes in the battle to claim ownership of the Arctic by sending Stephen Harper, prime minister, on a three-day trek to the region, just days after the Russians planted a flag on the seabed at the North Pole.
“Our government has an aggressive Arctic agenda,” Dimitri Soudas, Mr Harper’s spokesman, said on Wednesday.
“The Russians sent a submarine to drop a small flag at the bottom of the ocean. We’re sending our prime minister to reassert Canadian sovereignty,” said a senior government official, according to Canadian press.
The Northwest Passage, which is the main focus of the dispute, has become a sought-after territory thanks to global warming, which has begun to melt the ice in these waters, exposing a potentially vast haul of natural resources. Studies have estimated that the Arctic has as much as 25 per cent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas. According to some estimates, the Arctic contains billions of tonnes of gas and oil deposits, which could become more accessible as the ice cap that cover them begins to melt. This is happening just as their exploitation becomes more economically viable because of high hydrocarbon prices.
The melting ice could also open up a route through the Arctic archipelago that could shave off as much as 6,500km on a journey between North American and Asia, instead of using the Panama Canal.
The US, Norway and Denmark are also competing alongside Russia and Canada to secure rights to the natural resources of the Arctic.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Late last month, Moscow signaled its intentions to annex the entire North Pole, an area twice the size of France with Belgium and Switzerland thrown in — except all of it under water. The ice-frozen North Pole is currently a no man's land supervised by a U.N. Commission. The five Polar countries — Russia, the U.S., Canada, Norway and Denmark — each control only a 200-mile economic zone along their coasts. And none of these economic zones reach the North Pole. Under the current U.N. Maritime convention, one country's zone can be extended only if it can prove that the continental shelf into which it wishes to expand is a natural extension of its own territory, by showing that it shares a similar geological structure.
So, the Russians claimed a great scientific discovery late last month. An expedition of 50 scientists that spent 45 days aboard the Rossia nuclear ice-breaker found that an underwater ridge (the Lomonosov ridge) directly links Russia's Arctic coast to the North Pole. This, they insist, surely guarantees Russia's rights over a vast Polar territory that also happens to contain some 10 billion tons of oil and natural gas deposits.
Russia's first attempt to expand beyond its Arctic zone was rebuffed by the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, but Moscow hopes that its "latest scientific findings" will produce a different outcome when the Commission next meets, in 2009.
Moscow is also looking to restore control over a 47,000 sq. km (18,000 sq. mile) piece of the Bering Sea separating Alaska from Russian Chukotka. The territory was ceded to the U.S. in 1990 under the U.S.-Soviet Maritime Boundary Agreement signed by Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. While the deal may have helped ease Cold War tensions, anti-reform Soviet hard-liners always opposed giving up a piece of territory rich in sea life and hydrocarbon deposits, and they and their nationalist successors prevented the agreement's ratification. Today, the Agreement still operates on a provisional basis, pending its ratification by the Russian parliament.
But what had once been a battle cry of the nationalist opposition has now become the official line. In recent weeks, Kremlin-controlled media have berated the Agreement as a treasonous act by Shervardnadze (who later became the pro-NATO President of Georgia). Now, leading pro-Kremlin members of the Russian legislature are publicly demanding that the Agreement be reviewed, with the aim of recovering the country's riches.
In May, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Russia claiming the hydrocarbon-rich area would be to the detriment of U.S. interests.
Meanwhile here we read dispute Canadian claims to the North West Passage .
Whereas Prime Minister Harper asserts "Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic. We either use it or lose it. And make no mistake, this government intends to use it ...It is no exaggeration to say that the need to assert our sovereignty and protect our territorial integrity in the North on our terms have never been more urgent...The ongoing discovery of the north's resource riches coupled with the potential impact of climate change has made the region a growing area of interest and concern," Harper said. "
America meantime describes the Northwest Passage as "neutral waters."
"It's an international channel for passage," U.S. Embassy spokesman Foster said .
As global warming melts the passage -- which now is only navigable during a slim window in the summer -- the waters are exposing unexplored resources such as oil, fishing stocks and minerals, and becoming an attractive shipping route. Commercial ships can shave off some 2,480 miles (3,990 kilometers) from Europe to Asia compared with current routes through the Panama Canal.
Canada also wants to assert its claim over Hans Island, which is at the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage. The half-square-mile (0.8-kilometer) rock is wedged between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Danish-ruled Greenland .
In 1984, Denmark's minister for Greenland affairs, Tom Hoeyem, caused a stir when he flew in on a chartered helicopter, raised a Danish flag on the island.The dispute flared again two years ago when former Canadian Defense Minister Bill Graham set foot on the rock while Canadian troops hoisted the Maple Leaf flag.
Let us not be mistaken , many former allies have become rivals when natural resources become a bone of contention
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Canada has announced plans for six naval patrol vessels and deep-water port in the north to assert its claim to territorial waters in the Arctic , all at a cost of $3bn (£1.5bn) .
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the time has come to re-assert Canada's claim to the north to remind other countries - including the US - of Canada's claim to the waters off its northern coast.
The claim could also have serious economic implications. Natural resources including oil, gas and diamonds are thought to lurk - perhaps in abundance - under the Arctic ice. And then there is the North-West Passage - the northern shipping route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that European explorers sought for centuries. With a warming climate, the route may just become viable and lucrative.
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