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UK, Chile seeking to expand Antarctic claims ahead of treaty deadline

[JURIST] Chile staked a claim to a portion of Antarctica with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) [official website] Monday after the United Kingdom made a similar claim to Antarctic land [AP report] last week in the face of a May 2009 deadline. The Commission has also received claims from Russia, Brazil, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, France, Norway [CLCS materials] and Spain for both the Arctic and the Antarctic; under the 1994 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea [UN materials] countries have 10 years after their ratifications of that treaty to make extended continental shelf claims, although the 1959 Antarctic Treaty [text; ATS materials] specifically prohibits its signatories from asserting new land claims in Antarctica. The Antarctica Treaty gives countries with valid Antarctic claims the right to search for oil and natural gas beginning in 2048.

The UK, Chile, Argentina, Norway, France, Australia and New Zealand all have present claims to the Antarctic, but submissions to the Commission threaten to change the balance. The UK has drawn up plans to submit to the UN commission multiple claims to an additional 386,000 square miles of sea bed in the south Atlantic, which conflicts with existing claims by Chile and Argentina. AP has more. The Scotsman has additional coverage.

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