Denmark has invited the United States, Canada, Norway and Russia to a conference next year to discuss claims to the energy-rich Arctic region.

Invitations were sent to the foreign ministers of “all five Arctic superpowers,” according to Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller. All of the countries have asserted sovereignty in the region, where a U.S. study suggests that as much as 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and natural gas may be buried.

The controversy expanded in August after Russia sent two small submarines to plant a national flag on the Arctic water’s floor and Canada announced plans to build a new military training center and a deepwater port in the Far North (see Daily GPI, Aug. 13). The United States, with its Alaskan access, Norway and Denmark also claim to hold sovereignty in the region, where melting ice is improving access to new shipping lanes and natural resources.

Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, nations have 10 years after ratification to prove their claims under the polar ice pack. However, the United States never ratified the treaty, which was signed by the other interested countries.

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