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Russia is preparing an application to the UN in order
Russia is preparing an application to the UN in order to gain the right to widen the country's territorial borders in the Arctic, a Russian lawmaker said on Tuesday.

Artur Chilingarov, a member of the lower house of Russia's parliament and a veteran explorer, said that by 2009 Russia would submit documentary substantiation of the external boundaries of the Russian Federation's territorial shelf to the UN.

"Taking into account the result of the 2007 expedition, we are preparing to submit an application by 2009," he said. "Everything is based on international law and obligations."

Last August, as part of a scientific expedition, two Russian mini-subs made a symbolic eight-hour dive beneath the North Pole to bolster the country's claim that the Arctic's Lomonosov Ridge lies in the country's economic zone. A titanium Russian flag was also planted on the seabed.

Russia's 2007 expedition irritated a number of Western countries, particularly Canada, and Peter MacKay, the Canadian foreign minister, accused Moscow of making an unsubstantiated claim to the area.

Russia's oceanology research institute has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov ridge last summer - to back Russian claims to the region.

The area is believed to contain vast oil and gas reserves and other mineral riches, likely to become accessible in future decades due to man-made global warming.

Researchers have conducted deepwater seismic probes, aerial and geophysical surveys, and seismic-acoustic probes from the Akademik Fedorov and Rossiya icebreakers.

Russia first claimed the territory in 2001, but the UN demanded more evidence.

Under international law, the five Arctic Circle countries - the U.S., Canada, Denmark, Norway and Russia - each have a 322-kilometer (200-mile) economic zone in the Arctic Ocean.

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