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Several hundred people gathered in Moscow on April 24 at a conference called "Megaprojects of Russia's East: A Transcontinental Eurasia-America Transport Link via the Bering Strait." News of their discussions touched off a wave of optimistic thinking in many countries, that the time has arrived for one of the greatest of great infrastructure projects, a tunnel beneath the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia's Chukotka Region.

The participants issued an appeal to governments of the Group of Eight member countries, to place the Bering Strait megaproject on the agenda of the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, in June. Russia's Ambassador to Canada Georgi Mamedov told the Toronto Globe and Mail that he is now optimistic that the tunnel will be built. Mamedov expects President Vladimir Putin to discuss the Bering Strait project with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, when they meet in Heiligendamm. "We need Canada aboard," he said.

It is fitting that two American participants from the World War II generation put forward the idea that such great development projects are the path leading away from war. They were former U.S. Secretary of the Interior and Governor of Alaska Walter Hickel, a strong backer of the Bering Strait tunnel project for many years (see his paper, "Megaprojects Post Alternative to War"), and EIR founder Lyndon LaRouche, whose contribution, "The World's Political Map Changes: Mendeleyev Would Have Agreed," was read to the gathering. LaRouche, who as early as 1978 called for a Bering Strait bridge-tunnel crossing, wrote the article in response to a request from conference organizers, for publication in connection with the event.

The Americans radiated confidence that this can be done, bringing North America into the Eurasian development perspective that is otherwise being promoted through such agencies as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It would be, as LaRouche said in Moscow in 2001, part of "the greatest transformation of the biosphere in history."

High-level Russian specialists from Federal agencies, regional governments, and the Russian Academy of Sciences took part in the Bering Strait meeting, along with specialists from Japan and Korea. It was the first of a "Megaprojects of Russia's East" conference series, organized by the Russian Academy of Sciences Council for the Study of Productive Forces (SOPS), in conjunction with the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MERT), the Russian Ministry of Transport, the state-owned company Russian Railroads, and several regional governments in Siberia and the Russian Far East.

Victor Razbegin, who works in the MERT's Industrial Research department, gave a press conference on April 18 with other members of the Bering Strait project group, to publicize the forthcoming conference. Their huge map of the Arctic connection, and their enthusiasm for the $65 billion multi-modal project, with its associated long-distance rail and power lines, grabbed headlines in Russia. Over 60 stories about it appeared in press, web, and other electronic media, including a report on NTV, Russian national television Channel 2. NTV showed a dynamic map of the projected rail line from Yakutsk in East Siberia, through Nome and Fairbanks, to Fort Nelson in Canada.

Academician Alexander Granberg, head of the SOPS, described the project's advantages, in an April 16 interview for the economics website OPEC.ru. He said the road, rail, and pipeline connection would handle 3% of total world trade in physical goods. It will make it possible to harness more of eastern Russia's hydroelectric potential. It will allow development of previously inaccessible mineral resource deposits. And, said Granberg, the connection of the power systems of Siberia, the Russian Far East, and North America will create economies in electricity supply, worth $20 billion annually.

Russia's leadership, according to Granberg, now sees the development of transportation infrastructure as essential for uplifting Russia's vast outlying regions. Demonstration of this, he said, was an April 10 presentation by Vladimir Yakunin, head of the state-owned company Russian Railways, at a meeting on rail transport, chaired by Putin. There, Yakunin laid out the construction of a 3,500-km rail line from the Lena River to the Bering Strait, as a high-priority task. The Lena is the easternmost of Siberia's three great river systems, and is the tenth longest river in the world.

Feasibility And Financing

Razbegin, like Governor Hickel, has been closely involved in efforts to secure action on the Bering Strait project, for over a decade, as our review of its history shows. Another longtime Bering Strait tunnel enthusiast is the American engineer Hal Cooper, whose overview of the scheme EIR published in 1994, and whose detailed work-up of its parameters has recently drawn renewed attention from Russian, as well as American promoters of a Bering Strait crossing. Cooper told EIR the week of the Moscow conference, that the push for the project may have reached "a real phase shift" now.

Speaking at the April 24 event, under big banners with maps of the intercontinental project, Academician Granberg said that the next step should be design and feasibility studies for the 6,000-km rail-road-pipeline-power corridor from Yakutsk to Fort Nelson, including 85-100 km of tunnel under the Bering Strait. There will really be two tunnels, Granberg pointed out, because Big Diomede Island (Russia) and Little Diomede Island (U.S.A.) lie close together in the middle of the strait. Since Japan already has built 50-km underwater tunnels between its islands, Granberg remarked, the technologies involved are proven ones.

Conference participant Louis Cerny of the American Railroad Association also presented the technical feasibility of the Bering Strait crossing, noting that the schedule for the project as a whole could be sped up by simultaneous construction of its different parts.

Many of the Russian speakers referred to recent government decisions, which make the Bering Strait project a live option. One of these is the Federal Target Program called "Development of the Far East and Transbaikal Region" to 2013. As EIR reported April 13 ("Russian Far East: A World Great Project," by Mary Burdman), Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has been active in launching an array of measures to address the underdevelopment and depopulation of these regions.

Dr. Jonathan Tennenbaum, a collaborator of LaRouche for many years, introduced LaRouche's paper to the conference as the work of the American economist, best known in Russia for his Science of Physical Economy and his advocacy of basic infrastructure projects. LaRouche's discussion of the legacy of chemist and national economist Dmitri Mendeleyev, as well as his relating the cooperation of great nations on the Bering Strait project to the tasks of war-avoidance, were received with interest by the Russian participants.

Tennenbaum, who is known in Russia especially as a co-author of EIR's 1997 Special Report The Eurasian Land-Bridge: The 'New Silk Road' - Locomotive for Worldwide Economic Development, then elaborated the concept of infrastructure corridors, and networks of intersecting such corridors. Building them in the far north is a challenge for the 21st Century, he said, which can be met by building chains of nuclear-powered cities. U.S. work on building the nuclear-powered research town, Camp Century, under the ice in northern Greenland in the 1950s, together with Russia's city-building experience in Siberia, makes this a tailor-made area for U.S.-Russian cooperation, Tennenbaum said.

Maxim Bystrov, deputy head of Russia's Federal Agency for Special Economic Zones, picked up on LaRouche's and Tennenbaum's remarks about the enormous financial bubble that exists today, as against the potential for directing funds into productive investment like these infrastructure projects. Liquidity won't flow into long-term projects on its own, Bystrov stressed. He said that the Russian government would advocate attracting private concessionaires for the project, rather than rely solely on state funding from the countries involved. At the same time, Bystrov said that his agency was prepared to put up $120 million for the feasibility studies.

Governor of Yakutia (Sakha Republic) Vyacheslav Shtyrov, whose paper was read to the meeting by the region's representative in Moscow, discussed the enormous development potential of that East Siberian region. With a land area equal to half the size of the lower 48 U.S. states, covering three time zones and extending to the Arctic Coast, Yakutia's population is less than that of Rhode Island. Shtyrov noted that "we have all of the elements of Mendeleyev's periodic table" in Yakutia, as well as enthusiasm for Mendeleyev's ideas about development.

Contagious Optimism

News of the high-level Russian backing for the Bering Strait tunnel project was welcomed across Eurasia, from Sweden to Japan. Dagens Industrie, a Swedish business newspaper, reported favorably on it in the April 25 issue. German press coverage cited enthusiastic responses from China, Korea, and Japan, including the view of some Japanese business circles that the tunnel could be built more cheaply than the estimates cited at the Moscow conference.

In Denmark, where national attention has been focussed on the Schiller Institute's program for magnetic levitation rail infrastructure, Schiller Institute leader Tom Gillesberg pointed out that Vitus Bering, for whom the strait is named, was a Dane in the service of the Russian Navy, during the time of Peter the Great in the early 18th Century.

Publication of a story about the Bering Strait project on the Saudi Arabian news website Elaph.com brought forth contagious optimism. The report said, "The cost of this gigantic transport project, $65 billion, will be quickly paid back through the revenue, created by the transit of goods between the countries in the region." Comments on the site, from readers in Arab countries, as well as Arab-Americans and Arab-Canadians, urged the Arab states to learn from Russia, Canada, the U.S.A., and Asia, and launch construction of a network of railroads and bridges throughout the Arab world, from the Persian Gulf to North Africa.

In Russia itself, many identify the Bering Strait project with LaRouche. The Bering Strait rail line was shown on maps in EIR's 1997 Special Report on the Eurasian Land-Bridge. Academician Sergei Rogov of the Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada, and Academician Vladimir Myasnikov, then of the Far East Institute, used reproductions of EIR's map, to illustrate their own articles on Eurasia's development potential, appearing in major Russian publications in the late 1990s.

Typical of the Bering Strait project's reputation as LaRouche's idea, and of the growing sense of such ideas' potential to change even the most rigid institutional attitudes, is a Russian blogger's comment, posted April 23. With reference to a recent U.S. State Department report, which pledged support for regime-change in the former Soviet region under the banner of "pro-democracy" movements, the writer commented: "This I must mentally applaud: answering the State Department's latest attack, by proposing a gigantic, joint investment project - the dream of Lyndon LaRouche, who advised the Democrats during the most recent Congressional elections; and this from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, no less, though it's headed by one of our dyed-in-the-wool liberals!"

Conference Directs Appeal For Bering Strait Link To G-8 Summit.

This communique was issued April 25, 2007, as an "Appeal from the participants of the international conference on an Intercontinental Eurasia-America Transport Link via the Bering Strait, to the heads of state and governments of Russia, the U.S.A., Canada, South Korea, Japan, China, and the EU member-states."

Along with the Appeal, the participants at the April Moscow conference sent a draft Memorandum of Cooperation, proposing that those nations endorse the project and consider financing feasibility studies for the Bering Strait project at the June 6-8 summit of the G-8 in Heiligendamm, Germany. The studies could be completed by 2010, the communique stated. Subheads have been added.

The idea of creation of a global land transportation system connecting four out of six continents (Eurasia, North and South America, and Africa) has occupied the minds of mankind for centuries.

The issues of economic growth and global energy security, strengthening political and trade ties, containing and preventing wars and civil conflicts, and cultural interaction are directly related to the global community's ability to clear the hurdles in the way of solving global problems and ensuring constructive cooperation in all spheres of the world economy.

Today, on the agenda, are expansion and diversification of trade ties between countries, combining their energy, transport, and information resources for developing uncultivated territories and exploiting their natural resources. Now is the time to pay most serious attention to projects aimed at peace and creation; it's time to revisit humankind's great ideas.

Continuing Great Projects

The past 150 years were marked by numerous ambitious projects. These are the 9,000-kilometer-long Trans-Siberian Railroad, the Transcontinental Railroad in the U.S.A., the tunnel between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido, the Great Belt Fixed Link in Denmark, the Eurotunnel, and many others.

The 21st Century will see the construction of tunnels underneath the Straits of Gibraltar and the Bosporus, a tunnel under the Yangtze River, tunnels between the Russian mainland, Sakhalin, and Japan, and a tunnel between Newfoundland and Labrador Peninsula in Canada.

The construction of the intercontinental link uniting Eurasia and America, Intercontinental Link (ICL)-World Link, could become a crucial contribution to the creation of the Global Transportation System (GTS) as it pulls together global experience in implementing international projects.

Today, the main deterrent to a multimodal GTS and the actual linking of the two continents is the absence of a connection between Eurasia's and America's transportation and energy systems. In order to overcome this hurdle, it is necessary to build 6,000 kilometers of railroad from Yakutsk, Russia to the North American railway network via Magadan, Chukotka, the Bering Strait, and Alaska incorporated in a single corridor with a power transmission line and fiber-optic lines. The project's feasibility has raised no doubts among the international engineering community.

The necessary target investment in the project is estimated at $65 billion. Providing financing for the project as of 2008 would ensure that the feasibility study is completed by 2010.

The approximate cost of the feasibility study, including all necessary research and an ecological assessment, is estimated at $120 million and may be divided among the countries participating in the project. A major portion of the Russian share of joint financing will be disbursed under the program for development of the Russian railway transportation system, which was approved at a government meeting held on April 10, 2007.

Economic efficiency of the project is ensured by large volumes of cargo to be shipped (400-500 billion tons/kilometers per year), synergies between hydro- and tidal-power generation systems, and the effects of competitive exploitation of the plentiful natural resources in the area covered by the ICLWorld Link.

However, the project's geopolitical significance appears to be even greater, as it unites continents and creates conditions for multifaceted and fruitful cooperation among the peoples of many countries.

In just 15 to 20 years, the new multimodal transport artery will change the world. Humankind will gain access to new energy and natural resources. The ICL-World Link will provide access to territories colossal both in physical dimensions and economic potential.

To implement the international research program and coordination of efforts to prepare and realize the project, the international nonprofit organization Interhemispheric Bering Strait Tunnel & Railroad Group (IBSTRG) was created in 1992.

As of today, the basic technical and economic characteristics of the link, and the possibilities and ways of hooking it up to Russia's and America's transport routes, have been defined, and the preliminary analysis of the economic and social effects of the project has been completed.

Creating Economic Potential

We, the participants of the International Conference on an Intercontinental Eurasia-America Link via the Bering Strait, which took place in Moscow on April 24, 2007, having discussed the prerequisites, opportunities and the expected effects of the project, and appreciating:

● the unquestionable economic potential of creating a global transport, energy, and telecommunications system with the key element being a land link between the continents of Eurasia and America;

● the urgency of combining efforts to implement the project;

● the advisability of further research pertaining to the project;

● the necessity for the participants of the project, and members of the political and business communities of all countries involved, to coordinate their activities,

● hereby put forward this proposal to the governments of Russia, the U.S.A., Canada, Japan, China, Korea, and the EU member states:

1. We propose that the countries assess the merits of the project for building the ICL-World Link, at the level of ministries and agencies responsible for this area, and its inclusion in their respective strategies of economic development on the macroeconomic and industry levels.

2. Provided that the construction of the ICL-World Link is deemed advisable, we propose that the governments appoint their representatives for participation in further elaboration of the project, and discussion of different options of the countries' involvement in construction and operation of the ICLWorld Link.

3. We propose that the governments consider the financing of feasibility studies for constructing the ICL-World Link at the highest international level in June 2007 within the framework of the G-8 meeting. We propose that they pass a memorandum outlining the governments' positions on developing the global transportation network, and the feasibility of building the ICLWorld Link as a key element of providing intercontinental energy and infrastructural ties.

4. We propose that a working group be created for further elaboration and promotion of the project. We think it advisable for the sources and amount of financing to be defined at this stage.

5. We propose that the governments consider the appointment of the international nonprofit organization IBSTRG as the authorized international project coordinator for the duration of the feasibility study of the ICL-World Link. All participating governments will have representation on the IBSTRG Board of Directors.


Alexander Grigoryevich Granberg, chairman of the Council for Studies of Productive Forces at the [Russian] Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the Academy of Sciences;

Viktor Nikolayevich Razbegin, deputy chairman of the Council for Studies of Productive Forces at the [Russian] Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the Academy of Sciences, vice president of the international corporation IBSTRG;

● George Koumal, president of the international corporation IBSTRG;

● Alexander Yuryevich Sergeyev, member of the managing board, HydroOGK company;

● Joseph R. Henry, general counsel of the IBSTRG;

● E. Yamaguchi, president of Aikyo International Consultant Co., Ltd.;

● Louis T. Cerny, railroad consultant, track and bridge specialist;

● Craig Burroughs, chairman of BXB Corporation, director and treasurer of the IBSTRG.

The materials related to the international conference "Megaprojects of Russia's East: A Transcontinental Eurasia-America Transport Link via the Bering Strait" also include publications by four other authors (click here to open PDF):

The 19th Century Origins of The Bering Strait Project by Richard Freeman.

The World's Political Map Changes: Mendeleyev Would Have Agreed by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

Megaprojects As Alternatives to War by Walter J. Hickel.

Bering Strait Conference Marked "Major Phase Shift" by rail expert Hal Cooper.