US successful experience with challenging Russia's claim shows that even as a non party to UNCLOS the US is not a helpless bystander to CLCS
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Indeed, after Russia made its 2001 claim, five nations (Canada, Denmark, Japan, Norway, and the United States) submitted objections to the CLCS. The U.S. objection identified “major flaws” in the Russian claim, including an objection concerning whether the Alpha-Mendeleev and Lomonosov mid-ocean ridges in the central Arctic are a natural component of Russia’s continental shelf. However, the U.S. comments also noted that “the Russian submission utilizes the boundary embodied” in the 1990 U.S.–USSR treaty and that the “use of that boundary is consistent with the mutual interests of Russia and the United States in stability of expectations.”36
The CLCS agreed with the U.S. comments, stating that the U.S.– USSR boundary demarcated in 1990 reflects the boundary of the U.S.–Russia continental shelf in the Bering Sea. The CLCS recom- mended that Russia “transmit to the Commission the charts and coordinates of the delimitation lines as they would represent the outer limits of the continental shelf of the Russian Federation extended beyond 200 nautical miles in ... the Bering Sea.”37
In June 2002, in light of the objections to Russia’s ECS claim, the CLCS recommended to the Russians that they provide a “revised submission” on Russia’s claims in the central Arctic.38 Russia reportedly will make an amended submission to the CLCS at some point in the future. In addition, Canada and Russia recently signaled that they will cooperate with each other to demarcate their respective ECS boundaries in the Arctic.39
The U.S. objections to the Russian ECS submission and the CLCS’s subsequent rejection of the Russian claim call into question the repeated assertions by UNCLOS proponents that, absent U.S. accession to the convention, the United States is a helpless bystander in demarcation of Arctic ECS boundaries.40 In fact, the United States has raised objections to the CLCS on other ECS submissions, such as those made by Australia and Brazil.41
The U.S. can exercise its rights under the 1958 Convention on the High Seas to assert that it is permitted to mine and navigate in its Extended Continental Shelf. Ratifying UNCLOS would constrict the ability of the U.S. to respond to challenges to these rights by forcing all further negotiation to occur through the CLCS.