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Icebreakers needed for Arctic, U.S. House told

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User ID: 148427
09/27/2006 10:49 PM
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Icebreakers needed for Arctic, U.S. House told
The U.S. House of Representatives heard calls on Wednesday for increased spending in the Arctic, partly to assess Canadian claims of sovereignty over the waters.

Scientist Mead Treadwell told the congressional committee that new icebreakers are needed to establish an American presence in the Arctic and assess future oil supplies.

"We're hearing a lot from Canada's prime minister about sovereignty issues in the North," said Treadwell, the chairman of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.

"Whether or not the U.S. accedes to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, we must conduct surveys of our nation's extended continental shelf in order to support our claims of sovereignty," he added.

Treadwell said that while submarines are helpful for conducting research in the area, they have limitations.

Some scientists contend climate change could make the Northwest Passage almost ice-free within the next few decades, making jurisdiction in the area more contested than it has been in the past.

The fallout from the presence of a U.S. Coast Guard vessel in the waters led to the Arctic Co-operation Agreement, signed in 1988 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

The document stated that the U.S. would refrain from sending icebreakers through the Northwest Passage without Canada's consent, but the issue of whether the waters were international or Canadian was not resolved.

Anita Jones, chair of the Polar Research Board of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, told the committee Wednesday the U.S. Coast Guard needs two more ships in its fleet, costing about $1.4 billion US.

"[We] believe that the U.S. Coast Guard should re-establish a regular, active patrol presence in the Arctic waters to meet statutory responsibilities that inevitably derive from increased human activity."

'We will defend our sovereignty': Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised to increase Canada's presence in the North, and didn't shy away from telling American business leaders and politicians at a recent address in New York.

"We will defend our sovereignty over all our territory including over the islands, waterways and resources of the High Arctic even if that conflicts with American claims," he said on Sept. 20.

Harper has promised the addition of three heavy-duty armed icebreakers. He also planned to set up a network of underwater sensors to listen for foreign vessels, and put aircraft and unmanned drones in the skies over the North. The total cost of the Arctic commitments made by the Conservatives is about $5.3 billion over five years.

Canada deployed three Halifax-based warships in the summer during the largest naval operation in the Northwest Passage in a generation.

[link to www.cbc.ca]
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09/27/2006 10:58 PM
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Re: Icebreakers needed for Arctic, U.S. House told
The North Pole is ours by God and we will not let Polar Bear terrorists defeat us!!!!