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Source: New York Times
February 19, 2008


Last August, a team of Russian scientists and legislators trekked to the North Pole and plunged through the ice pack into the abyss, descending more than two miles through inky darkness to the bottom of the ocean.

There, explorers planted Russia's flag and, upon surfacing, declared that the feat had strengthened Moscow's claims to nearly half the Arctic seabed. The ensuing global headlines fueled debate over polar territorial claims.

But that wasn't the whole story. The heroes of the moment did not mention that the dive had American origins.

Alfred S. McLaren, 75, a retired Navy submariner, would like to set the record straight and, as he puts it, "acquaint the Kremlin with the realities" of recent history and international law.

A major figure of Arctic science and exploration who spent nearly a year in operations under the ice, Dr. McLaren says he developed the polar dive plan and repeatedly shared his labors with the Russians and their partners — a claim he supports with numerous e-mail messages and documents.

The Russians, for their part, acknowledge that Dr. McLaren played a central role in the dive's origins. But they say he took no part in substantive planning and logistics.

Dr. McLaren's plan drew on federal polar data and recommended specific sensors and methods to ensure a safe return.

"I wrote the procedures for the dive," he said in an interview. The Russians, he added, "went for the territorial claim."

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