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US official: Russia’s moves to expand control of Arctic shelf agree with international law

August 29, 2015, 2:40 UTC+3 WASHINGTON
He said that Russia had carried out extensive work to gather more arguments in support of its claim submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf
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© AP Photo/John McConnico

WASHINGTON, August 29. /TASS/. Russia’s latest moves to expand the area of the continental shelf in the Arctic under its control are in full conformity with international law, a senior US Department of State official said in a special tele-briefing for the media devoted to an international conference on the Arctic, due in Anchorage, Alaska on August 30-31.

About Russia’s revised bid for expanding the area of its continental shelf in the Arctic, presented on August 3, the US official said: "They are doing things entirely under the process of the Law of the Sea Treaty."

The US official said that Russia had carried out extensive work to gather more arguments in support of its claim submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. "They have devoted a lot of science to documenting their claim, and they’re going through the proper process within the Law of the Sea Treaty," the diplomat said.

He expects that apparently three countries will be contesting the North Pole, not only Russia and Denmark, which filed their applications earlier, but also Canada.

"I’ve had preliminary looks at what Canada might submit as their claim; it also claims the North Pole and a rather large portion of the Arctic Ocean," he said.

The official expressed regret the US Congress had not yet ratified the relevant convention, which left no chance for Washington to take active moves in the Arctic the way other countries of the region were doing.

"My only regret is that the United States is not able to have standing under that treaty because we have not acceded to it yet," he said.

The US official in fact pointed to unfair and biased coverage in the Western media of Russia’s steps to expand its continental shelf borders.

"Much has been made over the fact that their (Russians’) claim includes the North Pole; not much of a fuss was made when Denmark made a similar claim," he recalled.

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