Hagel says untapped oil, gas deposits will likely stir conflict in the Arctic
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — The United States will assert its sovereignty in the Arctic, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned on Friday, even as Russia, China and other nations stake claims and expand their use of the icy waters for military exercises and transit.
Speaking at a security forum, Hagel said energy exploration in the largely untapped Arctic region could heighten international tensions, but that countries must work together to avoid conflict,
“We will remain prepared to detect, deter, prevent and defeat threats to our homeland and we will continue to exercise U.S. sovereignty in and around Alaska,” Hagel said, as he unveiled the Pentagon's new Arctic strategy.
With a nod to the increased interest in the Arctic's lucrative oil and gas deposits, he added: “Throughout human history, mankind has raced to discover the next frontier. And time after time, discovery was swiftly followed by conflict. We cannot erase this history. But we can assure that history does not repeat itself in the Arctic.”
Hagel's comments came as the military finalized plans to expand operations in the vast waters of the Arctic, where melting ice caps are opening sea lanes and giving nations such as Russia greater access to the oil and gas deposits.
But it will take money and resources to fill the wide gaps in satellite and communications coverage, add deep-water ports and buy more ships that can withstand the frigid waters or break through the ice.
Hagel acknowledged the pressures, but he said the U.S. must map out its long-range plans despite the ongoing “deep and abrupt” spending cuts.
There are no cost or budget estimates yet. But by the end of this year, the Navy will complete plans that lay out what the United States needs to do to increase communications, harden ships and negotiate international agreements so that nations will be able to track traffic in the Arctic and conduct search-and-rescue missions.
In his speech, Hagel said the United States will remain prepared to defend itself from threats in the region, preserve freedom of transit across the seas, plan for gradual upgrades to the fleet, improve mapping and understanding of the environment, and expand military ties with other Arctic nations.
He said the United States will be ready to respond to any natural or man-made disasters in the Arctic, and will work with other nations and groups to protect the fragile environment.
President Obama in May unveiled a 13-page strategy for the Arctic, asserting that nations must protect the region's fragile environment and keep it free from conflict.
At the same time, however, the United States wants to make sure it is not left behind as Russia, China, Canada and Norway map out plans ranging from gas and oil exploration to research and military exercises.
U.S. officials estimate the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil reserves and 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ISIS’ message of terror heeded in Pakistan, China, Africa
- Donetsk rattled by explosions; airport at risk
- Coalition airstrikes fail to slow ISIS attacks on key cities
- Islamic nations lobby Palestinians to join ICC
- Historic, anxious handover as Afghanistan swears in new leader
- China faces tricky balance in Hong Kong’s protests
- Netanyahu rebuts claim of genocide, accuses Iran
- With help from U.S.-led airstrikes, Kurds retake strategic border town
- Reports say China fears doves of war
- Hong Kong protests grow on Communist holiday