Denmark formally claimed the North Pole, thanks to a continental ridge that connects Greenland with the northern Arctic ocean. Canada and Russia also have eyes on the region, which is gradually becoming more valuable as global warming promises to clear trade lanes of ice and make access to oil and gas resources easier.
According to the Financial Times, Denmark turned in its formal claim to the area, which spans 895,000 square kilometers (345,600 square miles) and includes the tiny North Pole, to the United Nations on Monday.
Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard explained the significance of the claim to the AP.
“This is a historical milestone for Denmark and many others as the area has an impact on the lives of lot of people. After the U.N. panel had taken a decision based on scientific data, comes a political process.”
He went on to say that he expected the process would take decades to settle. Russia and Canada have also shown interest, leaving Denmark on a diplomatic collision course with potentially billions of dollars at stake.
NPR reports that the arctic zone contains 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas, and 13 percent of undiscovered oil.
If global warming creates a more temperate climate in the north, exploration may become easier, along with using the seas as trade lanes.
The big question is if the conflicting claims can be settled amicably. In 2008, the U.S., Denmark, Norway, Russia and Canada, all countries with territory near the north pole, agreed to settle matters through the U.N. framework. However, in 2007, Russia planted a flag beneath the North Pole to assert its ownership, and as previously reported at the Inquisitr, they’re entrenching their military.
Russia is reportedly planning to build “13 airfields, an air-ground firing range, as well as 10 radar and vectoring posts,” and has already stationed long-range bombers there.
According to the Financial Times, an unnamed Nordic minister warned, “the Arctic has been the one area where Russia has shown itself to be co-operative but now the warning signs are there that things could get more difficult.”
Plus, Canada says they’ll submit a claim too once they gather more data.
That may leave Denmark, a relatively tiny nation of 5.7 million people, in a tough place to protect its North Pole claim, although its argument seems reasonable. Denmark, along with a handful of other countries, surveyed a 2,000 kilometer long (1,240 miles) underwater mountain that connects Greenland with the North Pole area. Greenland is a semi-autonomous landmass owned by Denmark.
The territorial claims will not be settled anytime soon, but Denmark’s push for the North Pole might be a sign that things are heating up fast.
[Image: Russian icebreaker Arktika, the first ship to reach the North Pole, Credit: RIA Novosti/Wikimedia Commons]