Canada to claim North Pole: Minister

Canada to claim North Pole: Minister

OTTAWA - Canada signalled intentions to claim the North Pole and surrounding Arctic waters while announcing Monday the filing of a UN application seeking to vastly expand its Atlantic sea boundary.

After a decade of surveying the country's eastern and far north seabeds and gathering supporting evidence, a claim was submitted to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on Friday.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the filing mainly concerns the outer limits of Canada's continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean.

But it also includes "preliminary information concerning the outer limits of (Canada's) continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean," he said.

"We have asked our officials and scientists to do additional work and necessary work to ensure that a submission for the full extent of the continental shelf in the Arctic includes Canada's claim to the North Pole," he told a press conference.

"Fundamentally, we are drawing the last lines of Canada. We are defending our sovereignty," added Arctic Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

Asserting sovereignty over an expansive Arctic archipelago and surrounding waters has been a key plank of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Tories in the past three elections since 2006.

But Russia and Denmark are expected to file overlapping claims, which could lead to confrontation between the Arctic neighbours.

Interest in the polar region has flared up as rising temperatures open up shipping routes and make hitherto inaccessible mineral resources easier to exploit.

The North Pole seabed itself is not believed to hold large reserves but has symbolic value for the countries in the region, which also includes Norway and the United States.

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