August 2, 2007
Russian mini-subs plant flag on North Pole seabed
Russian explorers have planted their country's flag on the seabed 4,200 m (14,000 ft) below the North Pole.
The achievement could prove to be a crucial move in an international legal wrange over polar offshore hydrocarbon and mineral rights. Those assets are likely to become increasingly accessible as global warming melts polar ice.
The Itar-Tass news agency reported that the Russian mini-submarines Mir-1 and Mir-2 completed part of their research on the seabed of the Arctic Ocean and began to surface at 13:36, Moscow time, today.
Russia's first-ever deepwater descent expedition is based on the research ship Akademik Fyodorov.
Itar-Tass says the main task of the expedition is to establish if the North Pole zone relates geologically to the Siberian platform and if it is part of Russia's continental shelf.
Itar-Tass says that positive findings by the researchers may give Russia legislative grounds to claim territorial possession of the areas in a triangle marked off by Murmansk, the North Pole and the Chukotka Peninsula.