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Eskimos dispute US claims of unfettered rights to cruise Arctic waters

THE NGO Inuit Circumpolar Council-Canada sharply denied US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's assertion that Canada's claim to the Northwest Passage is 'illegitimate', reported Canada's Nunatsiaq News

20 May 2019 - 19:00

THE NGO Inuit Circumpolar Council-Canada sharply denied US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's assertion that Canada's claim to the Northwest Passage is 'illegitimate', reported Canada's Nunatsiaq News.

'The US has a long-contested feud with Canada over sovereign claims through the Northwest Passage,' Mr Pompeo told reporters before the Arctic Council's meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, which all eight circumpolar foreign ministers, from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.



Mr Pompeo also denied Russia's claim over what he called 'the international waters' of the Northern Sea Route.



'In the Northern Sea Route, Moscow already illegally demands other nations request permission to pass, requires Russian maritime pilots to be aboard foreign ships, and threatens to use force to sink any that fail to comply,' Mr Pompeo said.



'Under President Trump, we are fortifying America's security and diplomatic presence in the area,' Mr Pompeo said.



According to Wikipedia, Canada considers the Northwest Passage to be part of its internal waters according to the UNCLOS. 'The United States and most maritime nations consider them to be an international strait, which means that foreign vessels have right of transit passage,' said the entry.



'In such a regime, Canada would have the right to enact fishing and environmental regulation, and fiscal and smuggling laws, as well as laws intended for the safety of shipping, but not the right to close the passage. In addition, the environmental regulations allowed under the UNCLOS [United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea] but not as robust as those allowed if the Northwest Passage is part of Canada's internal waters,' said the Wikipedia entry.



Russia's claim differs as it contends that its Arctic continental shelf extends to the North Pole, allowing it to consider the entire areas as domestic waters and the right to block passage.


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