ARCTIC NATION: Denmark’s Polar Claim
The Cold Rush is “On”.
Denmark has joined a growing number of countries in the Far North laying claim to at least a part of the North Pole and surrounding region.
In a statement issued Tuesday (December 16) by Copenhagen, the Danish Foreign Ministry announced that the Kingdom of Denmark together with the government of Greenland (formerly a Danish colony) would file a submission with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf “to define the outer limits of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.
“The submission of our claim to the continental shelf north of Greenland is a historic and important milestone for the Kingdom of Denmark. The objective of this huge project is to define the outer limits of our continental shelf and thereby – ultimately – of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has been a process characterised by the very good cooperation not only between authorities within the Kingdom of Denmark but also with our Arctic neighbours,” the statement said in part.
At stake are rights to fishing areas and maritime commerce transit lanes in the Far North now that climate change has ben steadily melting Arctic sea ice. but also the prospect of huge petroleum, natural gas and other minerals. As much as 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of the is estimated to lie beneath Arctic waters.
All countries’ borders currently end 200 nautical miles from their coasts in the Arctic, leaving a vast patch of land owned by nobody. Denmark is following Norway, Russia and Canada in submitting a claim under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to a portion of the Arctic, according to the Financial Times.
The five Arctic countries — the United States, Russia, Norway, Canada and Denmark — all have areas surrounding the North Pole, but only Canada and Russia had indicated an interest in it before Denmark’s claim, according to the Associated Press.
Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard told the AP that the Arctic nations so far “have stuck to the rules of the game” and he hoped they would continue to do so. In 2008, the five pledged that control of the North Pole region would be decided in an orderly settlement in the framework of the United Nations, and possible overlapping claims would be dealt with bilaterally.
The area Denmark is claiming consists o approximately 895,541 kilometers beyond the 200 nautical mile limit, 200 nm from the coast of Greenland. The focus of the dispute, according to the BBC, is the Lomonosov Ridge, a 1,800km-long (1,120 miles) underwater mountain range that splits the Arctic in two [see map].
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ARCTIC NATION is an occasional 4GWAR posting on the Arctic. The U.S. “National Strategy for the Arctic Region” describes the United States as “an Arctic Nation with broad and fundamental interests in the Arctic Region, where we seek to meet our national security needs, protect the environment, responsibly manage resources, account for indigenous communities, support scientific research, and strengthen international cooperation on a wide range of issues.”
(Polar bears explore a surfaced U.S. submarine in the Arctic. U.S. Navy photo. For a better look, click on the image to enlarge)