WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- Washington needs to consider sovereign interests in the arctic as warming temperatures result in more activity in the region, a Pentagon official said.
Moscow is trying to convince the international community that it has a greater claim to the arctic. A 1982 convention gives bordering nations the right to extend arctic claims if the government can prove its continental shelf extends beyond a 200-mile limit.
A Defense Department report sent to U.S. lawmakers said Washington has a chance to shape interests in the region as global weather patterns result in climate and social changes in the arctic.
A Pentagon official said during a background briefing with reporters there were potential security interests that accompany changes in the northern landmass.
"When you consider sovereign defenses, the arctic is very important to our military," the official said. "Sovereign defenses are not negotiable."
Changes in the region, however, are occurring at a slow enough pace that Arctic Council members the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden can be deliberative in the decision-making processes.
"Because it's slow onset, we have the ability to shape how that happens and ensure it happens in a cooperative fashion," the official said. "It gives us the ability to move forward in a measured and strategic way."