[Marxism] Competition for Control of North Pole (Granma)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 20 08:32:57 MDT 2007

August 20, 2007

Competition for Control of North Pole

musa.amp at granma.cip.cu

Before the Russians surprised the world with the scientific feat of
planting a flag on the sea bottom of the North Pole as a symbolic
claim to part of the region rich in raw materials, Canada, Norway,
Denmark and the United States all vied for control over the vast
zones, arguing they have more right to it than Moscow.


The Canadians reacted by making noise in the media, sent ships and
set up two bases in the region. Meanwhile, from Washington, there are
renewed efforts to refute Russia's claim to the underwater Artic as
part of the Siberian continental platform.

The fuss has an explanation: 25 percent of the world's gas and oil
reserves are located in this underwater region. There is also an
abundance of tin, magnesium, gold, nickel, lead and platinum.

The eagerness to posses the mineral wealth is even greater given that
specialists estimate that by 2040 much of the area will have
defrosted, opening up new possibilities for exploitation.

The role the United Nations will play in the dispute remains to be
seen. Likely scenarios are Denmark, Norway, the US, Canada and Sweden
carrying out their own expeditions or attempting to divide the area
without the intervention of an international organism.

To understand the role played by the United Nations it is important
to know that United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982)
recognizes the rights of a State over its continental platform. This
explains the Russians interest in demonstrating that the underwater
Lomonosov Ridge along with the Mendeleyev are part of the Siberian
continental platform. The bathyscaphes that descended to the Artic
floor also took samples which their scientists hope will prove their

Russia isn't the only country interested in the Lomonosov Ridge which
divides the Artic Ocean and extends over 1,800 kilometers from the
New Siberian Islands of Russia, crossing the central part of the
Artic Ocean, by the North Pole on to Canada's Ellesmere Island and

Denmark (which possesses Greenland) and Canada are carrying out their
own research, hoping to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge is in fact a
continuation of their respective continental shelves. Norway also
hopes to extend its platform and lastly, the US has joined the group
of countries that want to expand their underwater territory.

In summary:

Canada: Maintains a dispute with the United States over the
"northeast pass" between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It also
refutes Russian sovereignty, demanding the right over the Straight of
Anian. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper strengthened the
Canadian military presence in the area with an increase from 900 to
5,000 troops, 8 ships and 2 bases.

Norway: For more than three decades disputes the Barents Sea with

Denmark: Rejects the Russian claim to the Lomonosov Ridge coming from
Siberia. Copenhagen considers it a part of Greenland.

United States: The US doesn't recognize Russian claims and refuses to
ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Advisors
of President Bush want to extend the US continental platform a
thousand kilometers beyond Alaska, and are now looking at the
international convention with interest.


What's certain is that the Russians arrived at the ocean floor and
planted their flag and found a yellowish bed apparently without life,
which some scientists believe could be the result of climate change.

When he took office as vice president in 1993, Al Gore went on a
submarine under the heavy icecaps, dozens of meters thick, of the
North Pole. It was thought as a safe haven for presidents in the
event of a nuclear attack.

But in 2005, long outside the White House, Gore repeated the
experience with environmental organizations and found that the
situation had changed. The sea life was nil and in some places, the
ice cap was only a half-meter thick.

In this context the struggle to control the North Pole is underway.
Precisely the deteriorated situation of the environmental balance
makes the International Polar Year 2007-2008 a paradoxical one that
marks the beginning of what environmentalists call one of the great
battles of the 21st Century.

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