Washington, 15 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Vice President Al Gore yesterday hailed cooperation between Russia and the United States in opening up a vast area of knowledge about the Arctic Ocean.
In a Washington news conference, Gore said the amount of information publically available about the Arctic Ocean doubled yesterday with the release of an environmental atlas of the Arctic Ocean.
The data was collected over the past 50 years by the intelligence agencies and military commands of the United States and the Soviet Union. The information was considered vital to national security interests in both countries and, as a result, was only available to a few selected scientists.
Gore led efforts to release the information more widely. Today's announcement was the result of extensive negotiations with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Russian security and scientific agencies as well as U.S. security agencies.
Gore said the wide release of the data "is a truly important and historical step for scientists ... and the relationship between the people of Russia and the United States."
He said until yesterday, the most poorly understood part of the global environment has been the Arctic. With the new information, Gore said scientists can begin to study the impact the Arctic has on world climate and more accurately predict changes in the weather.