Britain applied for thousands of square miles of the potentially oil-rich Hatton Rockall basin to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) in New York on Tuesday. “We won’t allow it,” responded Iceland’s Foreign Minister.
Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphédinsson. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
“It is absolutely clear that the Brits will not be supported in their claim and cannot submit it the way they did unless other nations such as Iceland and the Faroe Islands give their permission. And we won’t allow it,” Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphédinsson said at Iceland’s Althingi parliament yesterday, Morgunbladid reports.
The territory belongs to the UK, Ireland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands and for years these nations have negotiated on how it should be divided.
“We are disappointed that [an] agreement on joint action has not proved possible,” the UK Foreign Office announced to The Guardian. “We hope [other countries] do not feel the need to dispute the UK’s submission.”
According to Skarphédinsson, Icelandic authorities are working on a formal response to Britain’s claim, which will be submitted shortly.
Tómas H. Heidar, an expert in international law at the Foreign Ministry, said it is important to Iceland that the four nations involved reach an agreement on how the area should be divided between them and then submit a joint application to the UNCLCS.
The next meeting between these nations to discuss the Hatton Rockall basin is scheduled for June in Thórshöfn in the Faroe Islands.