The Russian Economic Development Ministry has proposed launching the Arktika (Arctic) satellite system from 2014, the head of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said on Monday.
The system, which is worth around 70 billion rubles ($2.5 billion), will monitor climatic changes and survey energy resources in the Arctic region.
"We developed a system that consists of three subsystems, and submitted our proposals to the Economic Development Ministry," Anatoly Perminov said in an interview with Golos Rossii radio station. "The ministry examined them [proposals] and deemed it necessary to create such a system, and has now proposed to the government that it [Arktika] be introduced from 2014,"
He said the Arktika could become an international project.
"It is a purely civilian system, comprised of six satellites," he said. "Canada is working along the same lines and would like to cooperate with us."
He said Italy and a number of Asian countries were also interested in the project.
The system, , will monitor the weather and environment of the North Pole, pinpoint hydrocarbon deposits on the Arctic shelf, provide telecommunications over the hard-to-access areas and ensure safe air traffic and commercial shipping in the region.
The vast hydrocarbon deposits that will become more accessible as rising global temperatures lead to a reduction in sea ice have brought the Arctic to the center of geopolitical wrangling between the United States, Russia, Canada, Norway, and Denmark.
Under international law, each of the five Arctic Circle countries has a 322-kilometer (200-mile) exclusive economic zone in the Arctic Ocean.
However, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, if a country can show its continental shelf extends beyond the 200-mile limit, it can claim a right to more of the ocean floor.
Russia has undertaken two Arctic expeditions - to the Mendeleyev underwater chain in 2005 and to the Lomonosov Ridge in the summer of 2007 - to substantiate its territorial claims in the region.
Russia first claimed the territory in 2001, but the UN demanded more conclusive evidence. Russia has said it will invest some 1.5 billion rubles ($50 million) in defining the extent of its continental shelf in the Arctic in 2010.
MOSCOW, August 16 (RIA Novosti)