U.S. sees low level of military threat from disputes in Arctic
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There is no reason to believe that the Arctic region will be characterized by military conflict between and among Arctic and non-Arctic nations. The U.S. Department of Defense maintains that there is a “relatively low level of threat” in the Arctic region because it is “bounded by nation states that have not only publicly committed to working within a common framework of international law and diplomatic engagement, but also demonstrated ability and commitment to doing so over the last fifty years.”9
The “relatively low level of threat” in the Arctic is reflected in the aforementioned Arctic policy documents. While these documents call for improvements in Arctic infrastructure, they do not call for any significant military buildup in the region. These policy documents also indicate that there is minimal overlap between U.S. national security interests in the Arctic and U.S. accession to UNCLOS.
Despite the rhetoric, disputes over Arctic resources are unlikely to devolve into conflict as states have to date been operating in a cooperative manner and there are sufficient international forums and structures (including UNCLOS) in place to manage disputes if they should occur.