OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada intends to lay claim to the North Pole as part of a bid to assert control over a large part of the resource-rich Arctic, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Monday.
Baird said Canada had filed a preliminary submission to a special United Nations commission collecting competing claims and would be submitting more data later.
The move could raise tensions with Denmark and Russia, both of which also look set to lay claim to the North Pole on the grounds it lies on a continental shelf they control.
“We have asked our officials and scientists to do additional 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,” Baird told reporters.
Canada, Russia, Denmark, Norway and the United States are all keen to control as much as they can of a region the U.S. Geological Survey says contains 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 15 percent of oil.
A Russian submarine planted a flag on the North Pole sea bed in 2007.
“Obtaining international recognition for the outer limits of our continental shelf ... will be vital to the future development of Canada’s offshore resources,” said Baird.
“Canada is going to fight to assert its sovereignty in the north but I think we will be good neighbors in doing so.”
Russia, Canada and Denmark all say an underwater mountain range known as the Lomonosov Ridge, which stretches 1,800 km (1,120 miles) across the pole under the Arctic Sea, is part of their own landmass.
Baird said Canada needed more time to file a final submission to the U.N. commission because it had not had time to fully map the area around the ridge.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman