Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole
The summer sun sheds light on an iceberg near the town of Ilulissat, Greenland.
May 18th, 2011
12:09 PM ET

Report: Denmark to lay claim to North Pole

The Kingdom of Denmark is preparing to claim ownership of the North Pole, according to a Danish media report.

In a document leaked to the Danish newspaper Information, Denmark will ask the United Nations to recognize the North Pole as a geologic extension of Greenland, the vast Arctic island that is a Danish territory. Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen confirmed the annexation attempt, Information reported.

According to The Copenhagen Post, "The kingdom is expected to make a demand for the continental shelf in five areas around the Faroe Islands and Greenland, including the North Pole itself."

Denmark has set its sights on the geographic North Pole, a fixed point in the Arctic Ocean at 90 degrees north latitude and 0 degrees longitude. The magnetic north pole, the one your Cub Scout compass points to, is near there but moves around all the time as Earth's magnetic field shifts, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

Five countries - Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Norway, Russia and the United States (via Alaska) - have coasts on the Arctic Ocean, but none has ever claimed ownership of the pole. Working under a United Nations mandate, high-ranking diplomats have met several times to work out a plan for mutually acceptable boundaries.

"We are in the middle of an important and civilized process of how to usefully manage the last area in the world not owned by anyone," Greenland President Kuupik Kleist told Information. "... If we did not, we would leave it to those who have already filed claims, or who will do it. It is therefore a must that Denmark is preparing claims."

It's unclear how the claim will go over with the other Arctic countries, but initial reactions have been mild.

Despite longstanding Russian interest in the region, at least one Russian media outlet was sanguine about Denmark's approach.

"This fits in well into the contemporary international law regime of the Arctic," Vassily Gutsulyak, an expert with the Institute of State and Law in the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in an interview with The Voice of Russia.

Although the Danish document downplays the economic potential of its proposed claim, the Voice of Russia said the region holds vast reserves of gas and oil, as well as such minerals as coal, gold, copper, nickel, tin and platinum. Climate change also promises to open useful shipping routes across the Arctic, it said.

A Canadian expert greeted the news with enthusiasm.

"This is a positive development because Denmark ... is working in a framework of international law," University of British Columbia (Canada) professor Michael Byers told Postmedia News. "It is exactly how these matters are supposed to be resolved."

However, not all Canadians are willing to let the pole go without a fight. A tongue-in-cheek editorial on the online forum The Mark said:

"We'll be damned if we let those no-good, well-dressed, soft-spoken, architecturally inclined, generally peaceable Danes get away with it."

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Filed under: Canada • Climate change • Denmark • Earth • Energy • North Pole • Norway • Russia • U.S.
soundoff (195 Responses)
  1. Large Zulu Warrior

    Everyone knows *click click* the North Pole is where Cobra Command HQ is, so they own it. *click click*

    May 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. peter north

    uh, maybe they're talking about Peter's North Pole.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. peter north

    I'd have something to say about that.

    May 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. austen

    I'd prefer if the north pole remained the way it is. With nobody owning the damn thing...

    May 19, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike ryder

      Wait I thought it belonged to Poleland HAHAHEHESHNIKERSHNIKER

      May 20, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  5. mike ryder

    Does Bank of America own it??? Look out they are giving it away [to the highest bidder]of course!!!

    May 20, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. Raymond

    Claim it for the world and nature. The next big war might be over this. They will fish it dry and what's left gets killed off by oilspills etc. We came so far..yet we learned nothing. It's all about the money.

    May 24, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Raymond is ignorant

      and the award for dumbest response of the day goes to...

      May 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. J

    I already called it yesterday.

    May 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      Oh, this story is a week old you say? I mean I called it two weeks ago.

      May 25, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TheBlogNinja

    Santa Claus owns it dummies. Prepare to pay him big or get your @sses kicked back to Denmark by his loyalist Elf Army.

    July 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
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