TORONTO – Canada’s prime minister has ordered the inclusion of the North Pole in the country’s Arctic claim after it was excluded from a proposed U.N. submission, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
Canada will still meet a Dec. 6 deadline for filing an application to the United Nations to extend its northern sea boundary, according to the daily Globe and Mail.
But it now also plans to follow up with a broader claim that includes the geographic North Pole once additional surveying, analysis and paperwork is completed, it said.
The newspaper cited senior government officials as saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave the order to bureaucrats after seeing a draft of the U.N. submission.
Harper’s office declined to comment on the report, saying only that “Canada is in the process of securing its sovereignty over the north.”
Canadian sovereignty over the far north has been a key plank of Harper’s Tories since his government was first elected in 2006.
Every summer in recent years, Harper has traveled to the region to observe Canadian military exercises in the harsh environment.
Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the United States claim overlapping parts of the region believed to be rich in hydrocarbons, and have been rushing to gather evidence in support of their respective claims.
Rising temperatures have boosted interest in the polar region, as melting ice opens up shipping routes and makes hitherto inaccessible mineral resources easier to exploit.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Arctic seabed is thought to hold about 90 billion barrels of oil and 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas resources.
The North Pole seabed itself is not believed to hold large reserves but has symbolic value for the countries in the region.
Nations bordering the Arctic currently are entitled to a 200 nautical mile (370 km) economic zone from their coastlines, but claims for extending their territories will be decided under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.