Russia wants Arctic wealth

MOSCOW - Russia will file a claim to the gigantic mineral wealth of the Arctic sea bed with the UN by the end of the year, Russia's natural resources minister said yesterday.

Russia, the world's biggest country, says a chunk of the Arctic sea bed should belong to Moscow because the area is an extension of the Siberian continental shelf.

Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei radio quoted Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev as saying that Russia would submit its claim to the UN this year.

"We can hardly start the economic exploitation of this territory, which is beyond Russia's borders, without the agreement of other countries, without the agreement of the UN," the station quoted Trutnev as saying.

Moscow's bid is part of a race with Canada, Denmark, Norway and the US to control the giant reserves of oil, gas and precious metals that would become more accessible if global warming shrinks the ice cap.

A Russian expedition under the North Pole in August took samples of the sea bed and planted a Russian flag to symbolically stake the Kremlin's claim. Russian geologists say the Arctic sea bed has at least nine billion to 10 billion tonnes of fuel. - Reuter