(Jun 29, 2007)


Russia could claim millions of miles of land under Arctic Ocean



From AP


MOSCOW (AP) - Scientists say Russia could lay claim to millions of square kilometers (miles) of territory under the Arctic Ocean, following their discovery of a link between a major underwater ridge and Russia's coastal shelf, Russian media reported Friday.

The director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute was quoted by the Izvestia daily as saying that an expedition has determined that the Lomonosov Ridge running across the North Pole is an extension of the Eurasian continent.

The six-week-long expedition on a nuclear icebreaker measured 700 square kilometers (270 sq. miles) of seabed and conducted a series of detailed scans and acoustic measurements of the relief, the newspaper reported.

''The Lomonosov Ridge forms an inalienable part of Russia's Siberian platform,'' institute deputy director Viktor Posyolov was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying.

The discovery could not be independently confirmed and no Russian officials could be reached for comment Friday.

The reports said the find means Russia could potentially claim an area the size of Germany, France and Italy combined, which may contain up to 10 billion cubic meters of hydrocarbons, along with diamonds and metal ores.

International law says that a country can claim rights to seabed within 200 miles (320 kilometers) of its continental shelf.

Russia has repeatedly claimed wide swaths of undersea Arctic territory, though four other polar countries _ Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United States _ have objected to its bid, which was first presented to the United Nations in 2001.

Experts say global warming is opening up the Arctic to new economic pressures, as receding ice exposes new areas of ocean and tundra to exploration and ice-free zones result in shorter shipping lanes.


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