Chile Vows to Expand Antarctic Claims

Other News Materials 23 October 2007 03:59

(U.S. News) - Chile said Monday it will claim an extended portion of the Antarctic seabed to uphold its rights in the face of a similar step by Britain.

Britain last week said it is preparing a claim under a U.N. treaty that allows countries to claim continental shelf up to 350 nautical miles (402 statute miles) off their shores. The treaty also gives countries the right to search for oil and natural gas there.

Earlier treaties allowed countries to claim territory only 200 nautical miles from the coast.

The British claim would extend from the boundaries of the British Antarctic Territory, a land Britain first claimed in 1908, and would conflict with claims by Argentina and Chile.

Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley said Monday that Chile was planning to file a similar claim to extend its Antarctic territory but expected that negotiations between countries with stakes in the region would follow.

"No one can affect the rights Chile has on Antarctic territory," Foxley told reporters.

He noted there is a May 2009 deadline for filing a claim before the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. "We have plenty of time," he said.

The other countries that have submitted claims to the U.N. commission are Russia, Brazil, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, France, Spain and Norway. The commission must rule on each application.