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US envoy says no border disputes with Russia in sight over continental shelf in Arctic

March 11, 2015, 17:13 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
Russia’s plans to submit a claim to increase its continental shelf in the Arctic by about 1.2 million square kilometers
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© ITAR-TASS/Lev Fedoseyev

WASHINGTON, March 11. /TASS/. Russia and the United States are not expected to have any territorial disputes over the energy-rich continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, a top US official said on Wednesday.

Commenting on Russia’s plans to submit a claim to increase its continental shelf in the Arctic by about 1.2 million square kilometers, former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, who became the first US special representative for the Arctic Region last year, told TASS in an exclusive interview on Wednesday: "This is all done under the auspices of the Law of the Sea treaty, which, as everybody knows well, US is not a signatory to."

Russia first applied to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to extend its borders on the Arctic shelf in 2001, saying that the underwater Lomonosov and Mendeleyev ridges, which extended beyond its 200-nautical-mile territorial waters, but within the Russian Arctic sector, were extensions of the Russian mainland. Yet the CLCS rejected the claim, requesting more scientific evidence.

In October, Russia announced that it planned next spring to submit an adjusted application to the UN to expand its territory in the Arctic.

Papp said that although the US was not a party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea "we abide by all that's contained in that Treaty because we view it as customary international law."

"The interesting thing is that we established a boundary line, proposed a treaty between the Soviet Union and the United States back in 1990, and the United States' Senate ratified that treaty, but the Soviet Union was dissolved before the treaty was ratified on that side," said Papp.

"But Russia since 1990, first Soviet Union and then Russia, have honored that boundary. And the claim that Russia submitted, the boundary for their extended continental shelf goes right up to the boundary with the United States," he said, noting that "there is no overlapping claim there."

Asked whether the United States was interested in using the Northern Sea Route, Papp said he was "not aware of any shipping businesses in the United States that would have a need to use that right now."

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