10 December 2013, News Wires – Canada has filed a preliminary submission to the United Nations laying claim to the North Pole ahead of lodging a full ownership claim over the resource-rich remote territory, reports have said.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Foreign Minister John Baird said that “obtaining international recognition for the outer limits of our continental shelf … will be vital to the future development of Canada’s offshore resources”.
He said scientists were gathering data in advance of Canada’s final application to the special UN commission considering the issue.
“We have asked our officials and scientists to do additional 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, according to Reuters reports.
“Canada is going to fight to assert its sovereignty in the north but I think we will be good neighbours in doing so,” he added.
The move threatens to raise tensions with Denmark and Russia, both of which claim ownership of the North Pole on the basis that it lies on a continental shelf they control.
Earth’s northernmost point, the North Pole sits in the centre of the resource-rich Arctic Ocean, a region which contains 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 15% of its undiscovered oil, according to the US Geological Survey.
Russia, Canada and Denmark all say that an underwater mountain range known as the Lomonosov Ridge – which stretches 1800 kilometres across the pole under the Arctic Sea – is part of their own landmass.
In 2009, Norway became the first Arctic region nation to define its 235,000-square kilometre continental shelf, formally drawing its northern boundary 550 kilometres south of the North Pole.
A Russian submarine planted a flag on the North Pole sea bed in a 2007 stunt by explorers that came five years after the UN rejected the country’s first formal claim to the area and advised it to re-apply with more scientific data.