USA, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway & the Arctic

Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 08:17 am
Shippers chart polar bypass for clogged global trade routes
(David Ibison, Financial Times Deutschland, September 5, 2007)

The Arctic is not just about oil and gas. A ship traveling at 21 knots between Rotterdam and Yokohama takes 29 days if it goes via the Cape of Good Hope, 22 days via the Suez Canal and just 15 days if it goes across the Arctic Ocean. In coming years the Arctic will dramatically alter the dynamics of global trade.

A combination of global warming melting the ice and new shipping technology means polar shipping routes will open up in the next few years, drastically reducing the time it takes for container traffic to travel from Asia's booming manufacturing centres to the west's consumer markets.

While it is possible for container ships to travel across the Arctic now, the amount of ice in winter makes travel extremely difficult, or too slow and expensive if the ships are accompanied by ice breakers. But this will all change as the ice disappears in coming years.

The emergence of a northern passage across the Arctic connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans could not be happening at a more propitious time as far as global trade routes are concerned. It is estimated that 90 per cent of all the goods in the world, measured in tonnes, are transported by sea, and rapid global economic growth, fuelled by China and India, means existing routes are becoming clogged.

Container shipments on international routes have increased annually by between 5 and 7 per cent in recent years, in line with world trade, meaning the volume of shipments approximately doubles every 10 to 15 years.

The Suez Canal can handle ships with a draught - the depth of water needed for a ship to float - of up to 19 metres, which is sufficient for the largest current container ships but not for the next generation. It is also operating at its maximum capacity, with between 16,000 and 18,000 ships passing through annually. Long queues are commonplace.

The Panama Canal is suitable for ships with a draught of up to 11.3 metres, too small for ships that are now common on longer shipping routes. The Panama government has plans to increase the capacity of the canal, build new locks and deepen and widen the channels. But the planned extensions are not sufficient for a new generation of heavier vessels.

The Arctic is set to become an increasingly important route for world trade, highlighting the need for multilateral agreements over navigation rights and the application of international law in the region.
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Reply Wed 5 Sep, 2007 01:31 pm
i have noted with interest that the government of panama has announced a major expansion of the canal just now .
btw going through the panama canal is quite an experience . to see those huge ships fit into those locks with just a few inches to spare - quite a feat !
i believe the panama canal is one the the few places (the only one ?) where the ship's captain is required to hand full control of the navigation over to the pilot .


full report :
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Reply Thu 6 Sep, 2007 09:00 am
British jets intercept eight Russian bombers
(By Sophie Walker, Reuters, September 6, 2007)

Britain's air force scrambled four Tornado warplanes on Thursday to intercept eight Russian long-range bombers, the Ministry of Defence said.

The ministry said the Russian aircraft had not entered British air space.

"In the early hours of this morning four RAF (Royal Air Force) Tornado F3 aircraft from RAF Leeming and RAF Waddington (bases) were launched to intercept eight Russian Bear aircraft which had not entered UK air space," it said in a statement.

The Tupolev Tu-95, codenamed "Bear" by NATO, is Russia's equivalent of the U.S. B-52 bomber and is a Cold War icon.

Russia's defense ministry published a statement earlier on Thursday which said 14 Russian strategic bombers had started long-range routine patrol operations on Wednesday evening over the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic.

Relations between London and Moscow are at their worst since the Cold War. Russia's refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoy, a former KGB bodyguard suspected of murdering emigre Alexander Litvinenko in London last year, led to tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats from both countries.

Ties between Russia and the European Union have also deteriorated of late over issues such as energy policy, Kosovo and Moscow's treatment of European firms operating there.

The Russian statement said six planes had already returned to base and the other eight were still in the air.

"The planes flew only over neutral water and did not approach the air space of a foreign state," the statement said. "Practically all the planes were accompanied by fighters from NATO countries."

Sky News said the Russian bombers were heading towards British air space and did a U-turn when approached by the British fighters. It is at least the second time in recent months Britain has scrambled jets to intercept Russian bombers.

The sorties by Russian bombers appeared to the latest of the regular long-range patrols that President Vladimir Putin announced last month would be resumed after a gap following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Hampered by a shortage of fuel and airworthy planes, Russian bombers have for years been making only occasional patrols. But Putin said that starting on August 17, they would be in the air more or less constantly.
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Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 11:16 am
U.K. Urges Russia to Halt Airspace Provocations, Talk Instead
(By James G. Neuger, Bloomberg, September 7, 2007)

Britain called on Russia to sort out policy differences at the negotiating table instead of sending strategic bombers on Cold War-style patrols close to U.K. airspace.

Britain scrambled fighter jets to intercept a Russian bomber patrol yesterday, in at least the second such incident since President Vladimir Putin ordered the resumption of air reconnaissance missions last month.

``The best place to discuss relations with Russia is around the table, not at 35,000 feet,'' U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters today at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Viana do Castelo, Portugal.

Enriched by oil and gas revenue, Russia under Putin is seeking to reassert the international influence it lost when the Soviet Union broke up and former satellite states became members of the European Union and NATO.

Putin last month said a 20-jet fleet would be put on permanent alert to police Russia's shipping lanes and economic interests. The first reported midair sighting by Britain was Aug. 22, when U.K. jets shadowed a Russian bomber off the British coast.

In yesterday's incident, four Royal Air Force Tornado jets and two Norwegian military aircraft trailed eight Russian bombers that the Ministry of Defence said didn't violate British airspace.

Russia said the planes were on a routine exercise and didn't break international rules.

Miliband said the EU has to strive for a united stance toward Russia because ``there's a real premium on a common European strategy.''
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Reply Fri 7 Sep, 2007 03:46 pm
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Reply Thu 13 Sep, 2007 11:42 am
Denmark, Greenland call for talks about the North Pole
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Reply Fri 14 Sep, 2007 07:06 pm

Ice loss opens Northwest Passage
The most direct route through the Northwest Passage has opened up fully for the first time since records began, the European Space Agency (Esa) says.
Historically, the passage that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through the Canadian Arctic has been ice-bound.

But the agency says ice cover has been steadily shrinking, and this year's drop has made the passage navigable.

The findings - based on satellite images - have raised concerns about the speed of global warming.


The Northwest Passage is one of the most fabled sea routes in the world - a short cut from Europe to Asia through the high Arctic.

Recent years have seen a marked shrinkage in its ice cover, but this year it was extreme, Esa says.

It says this made the passage "fully navigable" for the first time since monitoring began in 1978.

"We have seen the ice-covered area drop to just around 3m sq km (1,2 sq miles)," Leif Toudal Pedersen of the Danish National Space Center said.

He said it was "about 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) less than the previous minima of 2005 and 2006".

"There has been a reduction of the ice cover over the last 10 years of about 100, 000 sq km (38,600 sq miles) per year on average, so a drop of 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles) in just one year is extreme," Mr Pedersen said.

The Northeast Passage through the Russian Arctic has also seen its ice cover shrink and it currently "remains only partially blocked," Esa says.

'Battle for Arctic'

Scientists have linked the changes to global warming which may be progressing faster than expected.

The opening of the sea routes are already leading to international disputes.

Canada says it has full rights over those parts of the Northwest Passage that pass though its territory and that it can bar transit there.

But this has been disputed by the US and the European Union.

They argue new route should be an international strait that any vessel can use.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/09/14 21:19:40 GMT

source :
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Reply Fri 21 Sep, 2007 08:56 am
Russia: Samples Prove Validity of Claim on Arctic Oil and Gas
(Deutsche Press-Agentur, September 21, 2007)

Russia has reiterated its claim to Artic oil and gas deposits, saying that testing of samples gathered in an expedition has proven that a vast mountain range under the Arctic Ocean is part of Russia, Interfax reported Thursday.

Samples of earth taken by Russians who planted titanium flag on the seabed below the North Pole in August prove that the undersea Lomonosov Ridge is connected to the Russia mainland, Russia's Natural Resources Ministry said Thursday, Interfax reported.

The Russian Arctic expedition planted a flag on the seabed directly below the North Pole and symbolically claimed the area, which is thought to be rich in minerals and energy deposits.

Other countries with claims to the area such as Norway and Denmark dismissed the Russian expedition as "irrelevant" state propaganda.

To stake its symbolic claim, Russia had its polar researchers plant a rust-resistant titanium Russian tricolour on the sea floor at the beginning of August.

Denmark, which has also laid claims to the 1,800 kilometre-long undersea Lomonosov mountain range, criticized the action as a "meaningless stunt for the media."

The other polar states Canada, the United States and Norway also asserted their claims to the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is hoping to secure its claim to the Lomonosov range at the United Nations by 2009.

It is estimated that there are 10 billion tons of oil and gas in the polar region worth more than 1 trillion dollars.
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Reply Sun 23 Sep, 2007 08:37 am
Russia's Arctic Claim Backed By Rocks, Officials Say
(Richard A. Lovett, National Geographic News, September 21, 2007)

Rock samples retrieved last month from beneath the Arctic Ocean indicate that the North Pole is part of Mother Russia, the Russian government announced yesterday.

The Russians contend that the Lomonosov Ridge, an undersea structure running across the Arctic Ocean beneath the pole, is a geological extension of the Russian region of Siberia.

Under international law, Russia could lay claim to the potentially oil-rich seabed under the Arctic ice if it can prove that the ridge is part of the country's continental shelf.

In a statement released yesterday, Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources said that a preliminary analysis "confirms the fact that the structure of the Lomonosov Ridge crust matches world analogs of continental crust."

In other words, the rock is of a type found on continental shelves rather than in normal mid-ocean seabeds.

Russian divers took the samples last month during a mini-sub mission that went beneath the ice and planted the Russian flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean.

The flag planting itself did nothing to establish a claim under international law.

Ted McDorman, a professor of law at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said that it's therefore not surprising the Russians took rock samples at the same time.

McDorman noted that even if the Russians prove that the Lomonosov Ridge's rocks are continental in nature, it doesn't necessarily mean that the ridge is part of Russia.

"It might be Canadian or Danish," he said. Or it might not be part of any country.

Resolving that question will involve studying the entire length of the ridge rather than a single location, he said.

"The U.S. view is that even if [the ridge] is continental, there's a significant detachment from the mainland," he said.

Furthermore, some Russian scientists appear to believe that the announcement was premature.

Boris Morgunov, an advisor to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, told Echo Moscow radio that the only way to fully verify the claim is to drill into the ridge to take core samples, according to the Norwegian-based news service Barents Observer.com.

But many Russian officials do believe they will eventually be able to back up their assertion and begin oil exploration in the region.

"With a high degree of likelihood, Russia will be able to increase its continental shelf by 1.2 million square kilometers [460,000 square miles] with potential hydrocarbon reserves of not less than 9,000 to 10,000 billion tonnes of conventional fuel beyond the 200-mile [322 kilometer] economic zone in the Arctic Ocean," Viktor Posyolov, an official with Russia's Agency for Management of Mineral Resources, told the Russian news agency Tass.

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Reply Thu 27 Sep, 2007 01:20 pm
'Remarkable' Drop In Arctic Sea Ice Raises Questions
(Science Daily, NASA Press Release, September 27, 2007)

Melting Arctic sea ice has shrunk to a 29-year low, significantly below the minimum set in 2005, according to preliminary figures from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, part of the University of Colorado at Boulder. NASA scientists, who have been observing the declining Arctic sea ice cover since the earliest measurements in 1979, are working to understand this sudden speed-up of sea ice decline and what it means for the future of Earth's northern polar region.

"The decline in the amount of thick ice that survives the summer melt season this year is quite remarkable," said Josefino C. Comiso, senior scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "The extent of this 'perennial' sea ice and the area it covers are both nearly 38 percent lower than average. Compared to the record low in 2005, the extent and area are 24 percent and nearly 26 percent lower this year, respectively."

"From what we know of how Arctic sea ice behaves after nearly 30 years of continuous satellite observations, this kind of drop in sea ice usually takes more than three years to happen. The rapid trend of the perennial ice previously reported in 2002 appears now to be in an accelerated mode," Comiso observed.

Because Arctic ice cover varies so much year to year, it can be dangerous to look at any one year and draw too much of a conclusion from it," said Waleed Abdalati, head of Goddard's Cryospheric Sciences Branch. "But this year, the amount of ice is so far below that of previous years that it really is cause for concern. The trend in decreasing ice cover seems to be getting stronger and stronger as time goes on."

NASA developed the original capability to observe the extent and concentration of sea ice from space using passive microwave sensors. More recently, NASA launched an advanced microwave instrument in 2002 -- the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on the Aqua satellite -- that provides a view of sea ice dynamics in greater detail than has ever been seen before. Researchers use this information to study polar bear habitats and the unique movements of sea ice from season to season. AMSR-E is a joint project of NASA and the National Space Development Agency of Japan.

The accelerating decline in sea ice may be due to changes in climate brought on by the lack of sea ice itself, Comiso believes. "When there is less sea ice in the summer, the Arctic Ocean receives more heat. The warmer water makes it harder for the ice to recover in the winter, and, therefore, there is a higher likelihood that sea ice will retreat farther during the summer. This process repeats itself year after year," Comiso said.

"The longer this process continues, the less likely recovery becomes," Abdalati believes. "The implications on global climate are not well known, but they have the potential to be quite large, since the Arctic ice cover exhibits a tremendous influence on our climate. It really is imperative that we try to understand the interactions between the ice, ocean and atmosphere. And satellites hold the key to developing this understanding."

Current satellites, however, can map sea ice in two dimensions, but it is much more difficult to find out how the thickness of the ice contributes to the change in the total volume of the ice. NASA's ICESat spacecraft (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite), launched in 2003, with the primary goal of determining how much ice sheets are contributing to sea-level rise. ICESat is also collecting data that enables scientists to make estimates of sea ice thickness with unprecedented detail.

"What we need to truly understand the interaction of the ice, ocean and atmosphere in the Arctic is sea ice thickness information," said Abdalati. "The new capability we have with ICESat is expected to be extended into the next decade based on recent recommendations by the National Research Council for a follow-on mission. Ultimately, like the 29-year record we have now of sea ice cover, a long-term ice thickness record will help scientists understand these complex interactions and what the changes in the ice cover will mean to the ecology of the Arctic and to life on Earth."
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Reply Fri 28 Sep, 2007 11:43 am
U.S. Coast Guard boss calls for forward bases in the Arctic
(By Patricia Kime, Navy News, Sep 28, 2007)

The U.S. needs to update its domestic policy on the Arctic and ratify the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea if it plans to join the growing international fray over the region's resources or participate in future discussions on the polar cap, the Coast Guard's top officer said Thursday.

Adm. Thad Allen told U.S. and international naval officers, shipping industry officials and civilians that the nation should consider establishing forward operating bases in the Arctic that would support crisis response in the region.

Operations such as search and rescue, pollution response and security patrols would be launched from these facilities, he said.

"It's time to have a discussion on this, folks ... a discussion of the national security implications, about the issues regarding increased shipping, increased use of the waters for eco-tourism, for oil and natural gas exploration and for a warm-water path over the top of Russia," Allen said at the IFPA-Fletcher Conference on National Security Strategy and Policy in Washington.

As the main U.S. naval force that patrols the Arctic, the Coast Guard needs a revised version of U.S. Arctic policy, last updated in 1994, Allen said.

He argued that the service needs better guidance on national Arctic goals so it can plan future force structure and acquisitions.

"We've gone from a fleet of 10 icebreakers down to three. As we look at maritime strategy on a global basis, we can't ignore the future of the Arctic, the implications and access to the Arctic," he said.

In October 2006, a National Academy of Sciences panel recommended that the U.S. build two new icebreakers to protect national interests and preserve scientific research in the polar regions.

On Thursday, however, Allen denied his speech was a cry for new icebreakers. Instead, he urged support for broader agreements with northern countries and the forward operating base concept.

"In the Antarctic, there's an international treaty. There's no treaty in the Arctic, but there's work to be done. I'm not saying we need a treaty, but we need to work internationally," Allen said.

The commandant's speech came just hours before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reopened debate on the Law of the Sea treaty, which aims to regulate all aspects of resources of the sea and use of the oceans.

During the past several months, the Bush administration has pushed ratification of the U.N. treaty, saying that joining it will increase maritime mobility for U.S. forces and secure U.S. sovereign rights over certain portions of the ocean and its resources.

But opponents say the treaty, if signed, would relinquish American sovereignty to the United Nations, could harm U.S. economic interests and weaken national security.

"The facts are simple, and they are the same today as they were back in 1982, when President Reagan first rejected the Law of the Sea treaty and Donald Rumsfeld (then a special presidential envoy on the treaty) told the world why: It does not serve our national security interests or our economic interests, and we should make sure it isn't ratified," wrote Edward Felner, president of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in February 2005.

Several opponents will be testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Oct. 4.

When asked about objections to the treaty, Allen said many of the concerns of the 1980s and 1990s with the treaty have been solved. "Most of the objectionable portions ... have been fixed. If we're concerned about migrant interdiction and drug interdiction, the ability to operate off these coasts in what are legitimately international waters, makes it very complicated. When we challenge [countries that claim a 200-mile territorial sea] and we say we only claim 12-mile territorial sea and 12-mile contiguous according to the Law of the Sea, we have very little credibility if we haven't ratified it," Allen said.
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Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2007 11:45 am
Prime Minister Harper bolsters Arctic sovereignty with science and infrastructure
(Canadian Government Press Release, 5 October 2007)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced a series of scientific and infrastructure projects to help bolster Canada's Arctic sovereignty.

"Scientific inquiry and development are absolutely essential to Canada's defence of its North, as they enhance our knowledge of, and presence in, the region," said the Prime Minister. "Like I've said so many times before, use it or lose it is the first principle of sovereignty."

At a scientific research and education facility in Churchill, Manitoba, Prime Minister Harper unveiled the final 26 projects selected by the Government of Canada as part of its $150 million commitment to International Polar Year (IPY). Launched in March 2007, IPY is bringing together thousands of scientists and researchers from more than 60 nations to conduct scientific research focused on the Arctic and Antarctic regions. In total, 43 Canadian-projects are already underway.

Included among the topics of study are:
• How polar bears, seals, and whales are adapting to climate change;
• The level and origin of toxic chemicals in the Arctic air; and
• Changes to the Canadian cryosphere - the snow, frozen ground, glaciers, ice caps, and lake, river, and sea ice that feature prominently in the Canadian North.

Demonstrating the government's commitment to the economic development of this region the province, the Prime Minister announced that the federal government and the province of Manitoba will commit to cost sharing $40 million for the upgrade to the rail line between The Pas and Churchill. Additionally, Prime Minister Harper also announced that the federal government and the province have agreed to cost share up to $8 million for improvements at the Port of Churchill.

"A strong and sovereign Arctic must be a healthy and prosperous Arctic. In the weeks and months that lie ahead, our government will continue to introduce measures aimed at unleashing the North's true potential," said the Prime Minister.
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Reply Fri 5 Oct, 2007 04:21 pm

Harper boosts northern port

Fri Oct 5, 2007 4:03 PM EDT

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada will upgrade its northern port of Churchill, Manitoba, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Friday, while visiting the community, where he got a close-up view of a polar bear.

The federal government and the province of Manitoba will split the C$68 million ($69.4 million) bill to improve a 1,300 km (800-mile) rail line to Churchill as well as facilities at the port, which is on Hudson Bay. Churchill provides an export route for Canadian prairie wheat during warm months when Hudson Bay is ice-free.

Hudson Bay Rail Co.'s owner, Denver-based shortline operator OmniTrax, has also agreed to spend C$20 million on track improvements as part of a renewal of a 10-year operating agreement, provincial officials said.

Harper and Manitoba Premier Gary Doer toured the area on a "tundra buggy," a bus-like vehicle used to let tourists safely view the local community of polar bears - which at this time of year are waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze so they can hunt seals.

A bear wandered over to the vehicle, looked up at the politicians, examined the vehicle's tires and wandered away, according to a wire service pool reporter on the scene.

(the bear probably figured he'd find more sustenance at the local dump Shocked :wink: hbg)

The federal government said on Friday a study of how polar bears and whales are adapting to climate change is among the scientific projects being funded under Canada's efforts to boost its Arctic sovereignty claim.

Environmentalists have warned that global warming is threatening the polar bear's habitat.

The rail line slated for upgrading is a important passenger and freight link to isolated communities in northern Manitoba, but service was disrupted this summer by derailments and unsafe conditions.

source :
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Reply Wed 31 Oct, 2007 07:10 pm
Senate Panel Backs Sea Treaty
(By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press, 10/31/07)

The Reagan-era "Law of the Sea" treaty was primed for its first-ever Senate vote, boosted by strong support from the Bush administration and an emphatic vote of approval Wednesday by the Foreign Relations Committee.

With Senate ratification, the United States would join 155 nations that are party to a convention that sets rules and settles disputes over navigation, fishing and economic development of the open seas and establishes environmental standards.

Treaty supporters, after making little headway for years, have gained momentum recently with concerns that the melting of the global ice cap will trigger a rush of claims by Arctic countries, including Russia, to previously iced-in resources.

Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., said the international pact, first proposed by Richard Nixon in 1970, offered the United States a simple choice. "Do we join a treaty that establishes a framework to advance the rule of law ... or do we remain on the outside, to the detriment of our national interests."

"If we fail to ratify this treaty, we are allowing decisions that will affect our Navy, our ship operators, our offshore industries and other maritime interests to be made without U.S. representation," said Sen. Dick Lugar, the panel's top Republican. "We will also be forced to rely on other nations to oppose excessive claims to Arctic territory by Russia and perhaps others."

The committee vote was 17-4.

The White House has urged the Senate to approve the treaty, and senior Pentagon officials have endorsed it, saying it would give legal clarity to U.S. naval operations. The oil and gas industry says failure to ratify could put it at a disadvantage in sovereignty disputes over Arctic continental shelf areas that may hold one quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and natural gas.

Navy commanders on Wednesday pointed to recent piracy incidents off the Somalia coast as illustrations of how the treaty would provide the U.S. Navy and its sailors with better protections.

Ratifying the treaty, said Vice Admiral John G. Morgan Jr., deputy chief of naval operations, would "give us treaty-based rights to restore order in the maritime realm." The Navy assisted the crew of a North Korean cargo ship after they clashed with Somali pirates this week.

But the convention still faces stiff opposition from Senate Republicans who contend it would subject U.S. military and economic interests to a hostile international bureaucracy.

"I am absolutely convinced it undermines U.S. sovereignty," Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., told a recent news conference of GOP opponents. "This treaty will not be adopted," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. "There aren't the votes to pass it." Treaties must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

The Law of the Sea Convention was concluded in 1982 and went into force in 1994. President Reagan opposed U.S. participation because of one provision dealing with deep seabed mining. That provision was amended in 1994 to satisfy U.S. concerns and signed by President Clinton, but the Senate ignored it.

Three years ago, the Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously in favor of the treaty but the full Senate, then in Republican hands, did not take it up.

The treaty recognizes sovereign rights over a country's continental shelf out to 200 nautical miles and beyond if the country can provide evidence to substantiate its claims. It gives Arctic countries 10 years after they ratify the treaty to prove their claims under the polar ice cap. The United States, with its Alaskan coast, is the only Arctic nation not party to the treaty.
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Reply Wed 31 Oct, 2007 10:27 pm
I doubt that the LOS treaty will be approved. In the first place it offers very little that is not already included in contemporary accepted international law. In the second it opens some new problems with respect to some long held traditions and policies of this country (and many others) concerning the right of innocent passage through major waterways that would otherwise be subject to claims of territoriality. Finally it gives the UN power to ajudicate disputes - something that most assuredly is not in the interest of this country.
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Reply Thu 8 Nov, 2007 02:22 pm
International Expert meeting on World Heritage and the Arctic
(UNESCO Press Release, 11/08/2007)

This international expert meeting will be the opportunity to exchange information on the natural and cultural heritage of the Arctic region, with identification of potential sites of outstanding universal value for the World Heritage List.

This meeting is organized back-to-back with the Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials' (SAO) meeting , which will be held in Narvik from 28 to 29 November. The meeting is funded by the Prince Albert II Foundation of Monaco with the collaboration of the Nordic World Heritage Foundation and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Experts from the 8 States Parties (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States of America) will be present, as well as representatives from indigenous people's organizations. Representatives of the Advisory Bodies of the World Heritage Convention, ICOMOS and IUCN, will also attend.

The principal objectives will be:
-Information exchange on existing arctic heritage properties (natural and cultural) and potential World Heritage sites;
-Presentation of World Heritage Tentative Lists of the 8 States Parties covering the Arctic Circle, with discussions on their potential harmonization;
-Identification of potential transboundary and serial sites to recognise the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Arctic;
-Cooperation with other international and national bodies and conventions in the safeguarding of the region's unique natural and cultural heritage.
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Reply Wed 14 Nov, 2007 12:17 pm
Sea treaty sparks rivalries
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Reply Mon 26 Nov, 2007 12:24 pm
StatoilHydro begins Arctic drilling
(By Ed Crooks, Financial Times, November 25, 2007)

StatoilHydro, the Norwegian national oil company, has begun a two-year drilling programme in Arctic waters to determine the potential of Norway's share of one of the world's few remaining unexplored oil prospects.

It also hopes to co-operate with Russian companies such as Gazprom to find oil and gas further into the Arctic, including areas disputed between Russia and Norway.

Helge Lund, StatoilHydro's chief executive, has called for an international framework to protect fragile communities and environments in the Arctic, to enable development to go ahead without unacceptable damage.

StatoilHydro last month became the first company to start deliveries of liquefied natural gas from an offshore field inside the Arctic circle with its Snøhvit project.

Over the next 18 months or so, StatoilHydro plans to have a drilling rig working continuously looking for gas in the area around the Snøhvit development, to see if it can find enough to justify building a second line for producing LNG.

Meanwhile, Eni of Italy is leading the Goliat project, in which StatoilHydro is a partner, to develop oil reserves off the north coast of Norway.

Mr Lund suggested in an interview with the Financial Times that he wanted Norway to work with Russia on future development of Arctic resources.

"During the next five to 10 years, I think we'll learn a whole lot, and you can see perhaps an industrial scenario being developed in the Norwegian and the Russian side of the Barents sea that will qualify the industry to work on even more challenging areas," he said.

StatoilHydro has been chosen by Gazprom as one of the foreign partners in developing the state-controlled Russian company's massive Shtokman gas field off Russia's north coast.

Mr Lund also said it was "important that we can define a framework that respects the sensitivity of those [Arctic] areas, particularly in the Norwegian sea".

Arctic oil and gas exploration has been highly controversial because of the threats that critics say it presents to local people and wildlife.

Royal Dutch Shell has been blocked by legal action in the US from beginning its planned drilling programme in the Beaufort sea, north of Alaska.
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Reply Wed 26 Dec, 2007 12:14 pm
Arctic satellite balance
(By YURY ZAITSEV, UPI Outside View Commentator, Dec. 26, 2007)

Russian space industry experts are currently discussing the concept of a federal program to use the results of space research to aid national socioeconomic development.

The program envisions using a new satellite cluster, called "Arktika," to monitor weather conditions in the polar regions. President Vladimir Putin, who advocates the program, learned more about the new orbital system during his recent visit to the Lavochkin Research and Production Association -- NPO -- near Moscow.

Anatoly Perminov, director of the Federal Space Agency, Roskosmos, said Arctic research was highly important. In the last 15 years the national aerospace environmental monitoring system for the Arctic has virtually ceased to exist. The lack of authentic and up-to-date regional information makes it impossible to compile accurate weather forecasts for northern Russia and the world.

Major errors in statistical weather forecasts can be explained by initial data discrepancies. Most initial weather data for the Arctic regions comes from international geostationary satellites, which cannot effectively scan the Earth's high latitudes. Their angles of observation do not exceed 70 degrees, meaning they cannot effectively observe higher than 60 degrees of latitude north.

Nor are geostationary-satellite communications channels able to receive complete data from Arctic buoys and automatic weather stations. The Lavochkin NPO proposes to solve these problems by developing the highly elliptical weather-satellite system that would provide a picture of Arctic conditions.

Perminov first mentioned the project at the MAKS-2007 aerospace show, held in the town of Zhukovsky near Moscow in August. He said four satellites would be enough to scan the entire Arctic, primarily the oil-and-gas shelf, all the way to the North Pole, and that the new system would help develop new territories and create comfortable living conditions.

However, Arktika satellites would mostly provide weather data, namely, polar wind speed and direction, cloud cover, precipitation and ice-floe parameters, in latitudes above 60 degrees north.

Perminov said the World Meteorological Organization -- WMO -- had already expressed support for the project and that Arktika-M satellites would feature optical systems. The Arktika-R satellites will carry radars, indispensable during polar nights, and the Arktika-MS telecommunications satellites will handle telephone communications and relay television and FM radio broadcasts to aircraft and ships in northern Russia and other polar countries.

According to Perminov, the new Arctic satellite cluster, which will be based on already operational remote-sensing weather and telecommunications satellites, will also receive radio signals from the COSPAS-SARSAT international search and rescue -- SAR -- system. There are plans to use Navigator-type and Express space platforms made by the Lavochkin and Reshetnyov NPOs.

Although no data is yet available on Arktika satellites, they will probably have trouble measuring ice thickness. Tussocks reduce ice-floe areas, but total ice volumes remain the same. There is evidence that ice floes accumulate near the northern Canadian coast, possibly due to the wind-rose phenomenon and ocean currents.

Unfortunately Germany's Cryosat spacecraft, which was to verify this theory, was destroyed together with its launch vehicle at the Plesetsk space center on Oct. 10, 2005.

Research conducted by the Arsenal design bureau in St. Petersburg, a leading national spacecraft developer, shows that it is possible to develop a small synthesized-aperture radar satellite, based on the standard Neva platform, for monitoring the ice situation in the Arctic, including ice thickness.

Codenamed Sever -- North -- the new spacecraft will be able to provide other remote-sensing data and process radar photos on board. All data will be relayed to centers currently tracking Resurs-DK, Monitor and Kondor remote-sensing satellites.

Start or Rokot launch vehicles will be used to place Sever satellites into 360-mile circular orbits near the North Pole. It will take three to four years to develop and deploy them after initial allocations are received.

According to preliminary estimates, one 330-by-330-mile photo would cost $300-$600, whereas Canada's RadarSat provides images worth $3,000 and more. Moreover, the Sever cluster would recoup its costs in just four to five years.
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Reply Wed 26 Dec, 2007 12:53 pm
from an address by canada's prime minister when visiting IQALUIT , NUNAVUT (northern canada) in august 2006 .

I want you to know that our new National Government is very proud of our military.

And you can count on our full support on this and all your future missions.

Operation Lancaster is a very important exercise.

Because it demonstrates our new Government's commitment to asserting Canada's sovereignty over our Arctic territory.

A commitment I made last December when I promised to ensure that Canada's jurisdiction over the islands, waterways and resources in the High Arctic is respected by all nations.

But you can't defend Arctic sovereignty with words alone.

It takes a Canadian presence on the ground, in the air and on the sea and a Government that is internationally recognized for delivering on its commitments.

That's why exercises such as this one are so important.

And that's why we are being absolutely clear and forthright in all our foreign policy pronouncements.

If you want to be taken seriously by other countries, you have to say what you mean and mean what you say.

And I am here today to make it absolutely clear there is no question about Canada's Arctic border.

It extends from the northern tip of Labrador all the way up the East coast of Ellesmere Island to Alert.

Then it traces the western perimeter of the Queen Elizabeth Islands down to the Beaufort Sea.

From there it hugs the coasts of the Northwest Territories and Yukon to the Canada-U.S. border at Alaska.

All along the border, our jurisdiction extends outward 200 miles into the surrounding sea, just as it does along our Atlantic and Pacific coastlines.

No more. And no less.

Canada's Arctic sovereignty is firmly anchored in history.

Almost 100 years ago, in 1909, a plaque was installed on Melville Island by famed Quebecois seaman Joseph Bernier, captain of the Canadian government ship Arctic.

It proclaimed, on the ground for the first time, Canada's sovereignty over the entire Arctic archipelago.

From the 1920s through the 1940s, the great Canadian navigator Henry Larsen patrolled our Arctic waters aboard the famous RCMP schooner St. Roch.

Larsen's many voyages upheld the first principle of Arctic sovereignty: Use it or lose it.

In the 1980s, the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney won recognition of our Arctic possessions under International Law.

Canada became one of 150 nations - including most European countries, Russia, India and China - to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Only a handful of countries remain outside the treaty today.

I have been very clear in asserting that Canada intends to enforce its rights under the Law of the Sea.

And today I am calling on all countries to sign the treaty and join Canada and the rest of the world in respecting the rule of the Law of the Sea.

Ladies and Gentlement, for far too long, Canadian Governments have failed in their duty to rigorously enforce our sovereignty in the Arctic.

They have failed to provide enough resources to comprehensively monitor, patrol and protect our northern waters.

As a result, foreign ships may have routinely sailed through our territory without permission.

Any such voyage represents a potential threat to Canadians' safety and security.

We always need to know who is in our waters and why they're there.

We must be certain that everyone who enters our waters respects our laws and regulations, particularly those that protect the fragile Arctic environment.

Our new Government will not settle for anything less.

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