Mon, Jul 04, 2011 - Page 1 News List

S Korea to submit seabed claim to UN, report says

A PRIZED POSSESSION:Seoul is expected to submit a document to the UN claiming that the country’s continental shelf extends as far as the Okinawa Trough

Reuters, SEOUL

South Korea will submit a claim to an extended portion of seabed beyond its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East China Sea to a UN body this year, media reported yesterday, a move that could rekindle territorial disputes with China and Japan.

The South Korean government will submit an official document to claim the extended EEZ portion to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) by the end of this year, the Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified government official as saying.

“In order to submit an official document to the UN CLCS, the government is reviewing and processing related data,” the official was quoted by Yonhap as saying.

In the document, Seoul is expected to claim that the Korean Peninsula’s naturally extended continental shelf stretches to the Okinawa Trough in the East China Sea. It means the country’s statutory EEZ stretches beyond 200 nautical miles (370km).

The disputed area in the East China Sea is believed to contain natural gas and oil deposits.

The government official was quoted as saying the formal claim to the UN commission this time is likely to prompt Beijing and Tokyo to take similar steps, reigniting fierce disputes among the Asian neighbors.

Comments from government officials were not immediately available.

In 2009, South Korea lodged a similar claim, not in an official form, but in a preliminary information submission with the UN commission, a panel created under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to review and certify the legitimacy of such sea territorial claims.

China has claimed the Okinawa Trough, saying the trough is part of its natural continental shelf extension.

South Korea is scheduled to hold working-level meetings with China and Japan, separately, to discuss issues on the sea border demarcation later this year.

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