ARCTIC: Report Says Denmark to Press Claim

May 17, 2011 at 11:04 pm Leave a comment

Has Arctic Circle Land Rush Started?

Just days after the nations of the High North met in Greenland to discuss common problems and approve an Arctic search-and-rescue treaty, comes word that one of them plans to lay claim to the land under the North Pole.

CIA World Factbook via Wikipedia

The report comes just days after leaders of the eight countries that make up the Arctic Council – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States – met in Nuuk, Greenland to approve the search-and-rescue treaty and begin addressing such issues as oil and natural gas drilling.

But reports of a leaked Danish government document, first reported by Danish news media, say Denmark plans to make a claim for part of the land beneath the North Pole and elsewhere in the Arctic before a 2014 United Nations deadline.

The report on Denmark’s plans also comes shortly after leaked U.S. diplomatic cables reveal the Arctic states are rushing to stake claims to the region, which is believed to be rich in minerals. As much as 25 percent of the world’s untapped petroleum fields are believed to lie beneath the Arctic’s ice ans frigid waters. The cables, released by Wikileaks, indicated most of the Arctic nations – including Denmark – are anxious to stake a claim before the ice melts.

Scientists say climate change and global warming could melt much of the polar ice, making the waters around the North Pole navigable – and more accessible for oil and gas exploration and drilling.

In a token gesture, Russia asserted its land claims in 2007 when it placed a small metal Russian flag in the sea bottom beneath the pole. Canada, which asserts is has sovereigity over any Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans – should the ice melt prediction come true – has conducted military exercises (some with U.S. and Danish participation) to assert its sovereignty in the region. Norway has also hosted multi-national wargames in the Arctic — the most recent had a defense-of-North Sea-oil fields as part of its scenario.

The U.S. Norway and Denmark – through its rule over Greenland – are the only other countries that border the Arctic Ocean. Here is a Russian publication’s take on the controversy, including an explanation of why Denmark thinks it has a claim on the North Pole.

The attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22). U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Timothy Aguirre

Most of the Arctic nations conduct military exercises and scientific missions in the region’s seas and skies. In the photo above, the Seawolf-class attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) returns to port at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton after participating in Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2011 in the Arctic Circle.

The Connecticut and the Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) worked with the Navy’s Arctic Submarine Laboratory and the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory to test new equipment and train for under-ice operations in an Arctic environment.

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Entry filed under: Arctic, BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), National Security and Defense, Skills and Training, Washington, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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