security melts with Arctic ice
Nations will try to use its waterways to shorten Asia-Europe trips,
and tap the mineral and fresh water resources of the area, says top
THE Canadian military fears that global warming will pose a threat to
the country's sovereignty as melting ice attracts the attention of nations
eyeing the deep Arctic waterways for shorter shipping times between Asia
and Europe, and the rich mineral and fresh water resources in the region.
Canada's second-most senior military officer, Lt-General Ray Henault,
said the military took the threat posed to national sovereignty due to
global warming 'very seriously'.
In a series of recent secret reports, senior Canadian military officers
have said that as melting ice enables commercial shipping in the next
10-50 years, many nations may be tempted to test Canadian strength to
protect the Arctic areas over which the world's second largest country
And as if to give teeth to the military fears, the Canadian media,
which received some of the reports under the country's access to
information law, have come up with reports of recent incursions of foreign
vessels in Canadian Arctic waters.
In August last year, a Chinese state-owned research ship entered the
Canadian waters off the Northwest Territories without permission.
The Canadians became aware of the ship's presence only when it asked
for help after running into ice.
Then, a month later, a submarine of unidentified origin was detected
near Baffin Islands, close to Greenland.
The recent move by Russia to shift some of its long-range, nuclear
capable Tu-95 bombers to its northern bases has also rattled the nerves of
Canadians, who have shifted some of their own aircraft to their northern
bases to keep a tab on Russian moves.
According to recent reports, the so-called multi-year ice - the thick,
hard ice that covers most of the Arctic - has shrunk by 14 per cent over
the past 20 years.
At the present melting rate, the Arctic ice would vanish in the next 50
It is not only Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic waterways that
would be threatened, the military believes that the rich minerals and
fresh water resources may also attract foreign attention.
Furthermore, the area is also rich in fresh water, which is becoming a
scarce resource and over which nations are expected to squabble in the
One Canadian military document says that foreign nations may send in
their submarines to challenge Canada's ownership of significant Arctic
The Canadian navy has already noted that submarine buying or building
activity is increasing in South-east and East Asia, and very soon
countries like Taiwan are to own their first submarines.
However, Canada's first submarines with the ability to patrol under ice
would not be ready until 2010.