S. Korea submits formal claim on East China Sea shelf to UN


Posted at Dec 27 2012 11:00 AM | Updated as of Dec 27 2012 07:00 PM

SEOUL - South Korea has submitted a claim to an extended portion of seabed beyond its exclusive economic zone in the East China Sea to a United Nations body, South Korea's foreign ministry said Thursday in a statement.

The document was presented to the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in New York.

"We have submitted an official claim in order to officially make our position known that the Korean peninsula's natural prolongation of the continental shelf in the East China Sea extends to the Okinawa Trough," the statement said.

An unidentified South Korean foreign ministry official said the size of the shelf claimed by South Korea in its official document has more than doubled, according to Yonhap News Agency.

Yonhap said China and Japan have separately claimed the Okinawa Trough, with part of South Korea's recent claim overlapping with China's.

South Korea and China, however, share a largely similar stance in defining the limits while being in discord with Japan.

The continental shelf in the East China Sea is believed to be rich in natural gas and oil deposits.

In general, the U.N. body puts forth "recommendations" after a three-month non-regulated review of the information submitted by each country, which means its decision is not legally binding.

"The submission bears a significance of declaring our right to, and the principle about, the trough scientifically, technically and geographically to the international community," another South Korean foreign ministry official was quoted as saying.

"In case of disputes among countries involved, the CLCS is supposed to refrain from reviewing the case. So the final demarcation will be made through agreements by the parties," he added.