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Scramble for World Resources: Battle for Antarctica

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 5/22/09

The Arctic and Antarctica are the last vast untapped reservoirs of mineral resources on the planet. [1]

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If the expansion of Australia's territory is formalized, this will disrupt the operation of international legal mechanisms, which have already been seriously affected by the proclamation of Kosovo's ndependence.

Worse still, this will open the door to a large-scale re-division of the world. The South Pole precedent could be applied in the North Pole, which will turn the struggle for the Arctic resources into a global war, inevitably involving Russia. [2]

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Image by NatGeo.

May 13th of this year marked the deadline for "states to stake their claims in what some experts are describing as the last big carve-up of maritime territory in history," Reuters reported in October of 2007. [3]

At the time the British Foreign Office announced that it was submitting a claim to expand the nation's Antarctic territory by a million square kilometers and would also submit "four other claims...for Atlantic seabed territory around South Georgia and the Falkland Islands and also around Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, near the Bay of Biscay in the North Atlantic, and in the Hatton-Rockall basin off Scotland's coast." [4]

Prior to 1962, the British Antarctic Territory was a dependency of the Falkland Islands and also included South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

On March 31 of this year Britain made a partial submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf regarding the Hatton-Rockall area in the Northeast Atlantic (Rockall is a minuscule craggy isle, though one with strategic significance way out of proportion to its size), which gives the country its only claim to the Arctic shelf that is estimated to contain a fifth of the world's undiscovered oil and nearly a third of undiscovered natural gas.

London started talks with Iceland, Ireland and Denmark (in its capacity of owner of the Faroe Islands) to jointly use Rockall to penetrate the Arctic in the impending scramble for its resources, a subject that has been explored extensively in another study in this series [5]

In a parallel but far grander move, on this May 11 Britain submitted its claim to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf for the one million square kilometers it covets in the South Atlantic reaching into the Antarctic Ocean.

This was the formalization of plans initially revealed in October of 2007 and described in a press report of the time as a plan to "extend British sovereignty in Antarctica," a zone which "covers a vast area of the seabed around British Antarctica near the south pole." [6]

Immediately nations far nearer Antarctica and as such with better claims to its territory, Argentina most notably, lodged complaints as "The British claim...conflicts with the spirit of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, to which Britain is a signatory, which prevents all exploitation of oil gas and minerals, other than for scientific research." [7]

Alarms were sounded from other quarters too. Shortly after the British announcement the Chinese People's Daily reported:

"The South Pole, a world of ice and snow, has become a hot spot in recent years. The Argentinean Foreign Ministry stated that vice-Foreign Ministers from Argentina and Chile would be meeting in early December to discuss the South Pole issue, and work out a joint strategy to boycott British sovereign demands on the South Pole's continental shelf." [8]

The same source provided this background information:

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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