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Russia plants a flag to lay claim to the North Pole

The North Pole has always been ice bound, but with global warming heating up the world, scientists are not sure how long that will continue. There is increasing speculation that the North Pole will become ice-free in the next few decades, offering an alternative sea path for transport. However, it will also lead to territorial issues. Typically, when the North Pole has been deeply ice-bound and mostly inaccessible in a normal way, there has not been much debate about who owns the North Pole.
All that is set to change, with nations such as Russia, Canada and Denmark (via Greenland) claiming the North Pole. The concept is to secure rights to the Artic Ocean and the supposed mineral rights underneath.

Russia has laid claim to the seafloor at the North Pole, planting its national flag underwater in the hopes of securing the Arctic’s potential motherlode of natural resources. In an unprecedented dive beneath the ice, two three-person submersibles descended 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) to the bottom, where one symbolically dropped a titanium capsule containing a Russian flag.
The Russian claim to the region, made Thursday, is based on international law that sets a 200-mile (322-kilometer) territorial limit stretching from the coast into open waters. This limit can be expanded if a country’s continental shelf extends further out to sea. Since 2001 Russian officials have been arguing that an undersea formation called the Lomonosov Ridge is part of Siberia’s shelf, and that the country is therefore entitled to sole rights to the ridge and the nearby seabed.

This is a symbolic step, because it has no legal meaning. Neither Canada nor Denmark will easily give in, and the US might also step in to dispute any ownership of the Artic circle due to its potential as a trade route. Of course, if we do manage to control global warming, then none of this should be a problem.

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