Monday, August 18, 2008

U.S. and Canada bury hatchet to curb Russia's Arctic bid.

No suprise that Harper should form a partnership with the U.S. even though the U.S. does not recognise the Northwest Passage as Canadian waters and has a conflict with us in regard where to divide the ridge. How this co-operation is supposed to fit in with our own claims that conflict with the U.S. is problematic. Of course the U.S. so far has not even ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the basis for settling the conflicting claims!

US and Canada bury hatchet to curb Russia's Arctic bid
By Christopher Mason in Ottawa
Published: August 18 2008 03:00 Last updated: August 18 2008 03:00
Unexpected partnerships are forming among nations vying to extend their Arctic undersea territories as they join to counter Russia's aggressive Arctic claims.
A United States coastguard icebreaker left port in Alaska last week to join a Canadian icebreaker to conduct a seismic survey of the Beaufort seabed north of the Yukon-Alaska border.
Both countries are gathering research to support their claim to Arctic territories that may hold vast natural resources and potential new shipping routes.
Canada and the US say a past land dispute over 12,000 sq km of seabed elsewhere in the Beaufort Sea is being put aside in the name of defending against Russia's Arctic claims, which clash with those of the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway.
"The Russians know what they want the Arctic for, and under Putin and Medvedev they have been very aggressive," said Rob Huebert, associate director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. "They are way ahead of everyone else."
The issue of who owns the North Pole was a backburner issue while the region was encased in ice.
But warmer temperatures suggest the region, which may hold up to one-quarter of the world's remaining oil and gas reserves, could soon be put into play as thinning ice makes it accessible.
This month, Canadian and Danish scientists claimed the Lomonosov Ridge under the North Pole was connected to the North American and Greenland plates.
The two countries may disagree on where to divide the ridge among themselves, but they agree it is not an extension of the Russian continental shelf.
Countries are allowed to extend their control of the seabed beyond customary limits if they can demonstrate that it is part of their continental shelf.
Moscow first claimed the Lomonosov Ridge in 2001 and reasserted that last year when a Russian submarine planted a Russian flag in the seabed under the North Pole.
The US position on the Arctic is tricky because
Congress has not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which will ultimately govern the claims. But US officials are moving forward in the hope it is ratified before the UN deadline for territorial claims in 2013.
This month, Michael Chertoff, homeland security secretary, toured the American coastguard's operations in Alaska. In a radio interview before the tour, Thad Allen, coastguard commandant admiral, said increased interest in the Arctic might force the US to change tack.
"This will deal with more issues of sovereignty, security presence and things like that," he said. "The question is: What do we want to project up here?"

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