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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

January 2018
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Speeches

V. Petrovsky: Bering Strait Tunnel, from Dream to Reality

People use metaphors and talk about “peace bridges” between people and nations, not meaning it literally. But the principles of peace and unification, which the Universal Peace Federation promotes, prompt us to make a real effort to achieve this. To enable the peoples of the globe to communicate, make friendship and peace, we need to think about physically building bridges and roads to peace, however difficult it may be.

The Bering Strait Peace King Tunnel, a bold project proposed by Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon, has great symbolic and practical value, as it will allow completion of a global transportation system with bridges and tunnels connecting nearby land masses, which would bring together people of all races, cultures, religions, and nationalities in one peaceful and prosperous global community.

The idea of building a tunnel across the 85-kilometer Bering Strait is not new. Such proposals were advanced more than a century ago under Tsar Nicholas II, Russia's last emperor. He approved a plan for a tunnel under the Bering Strait in 1905, 38 years after his grandfather sold Alaska to America for US$7.2 million.

In 1907 investors in New York, Moscow, and Paris set up a company to raise funds for the railway components of the proposed trans-continental link. But, as Hal B.H. Cooper, Jr., and other historians indicated, these fundraising efforts were halted by the intervention of financial interests who supposedly represented the British Empire maritime and minerals cartels. They opposed a Trans-Siberian Railway as a challenge to their monopoly.

World War I and the Russian revolution of 1917 stopped further developments. However, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin repeatedly called for intensifying railroad construction, including toward the Bering Strait.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, Joseph Stalin called Franklin Roosevelt to request American war materials to help resist the German invasion of the Soviet Union. One option presented was to build a railroad from Canada to Teller, Alaska, and then ferry supplies across the Bering Strait to Uelen where a railroad link would be built to Egvekinot. From there one proposed railroad would run west for nearly 3,500 miles along the south shore of the Arctic Ocean to join the newly completed rail line to Moscow. The other would run an estimated 2,500 miles southwest over mountains to Yakutsk and join the Trans-Siberian Railway at Skovorodino. Neither was built.

After the end of World War II, Stalin contacted US President Harry Truman to restart discussions about a tunnel under the Bering Strait. Truman rebuffed Stalin, as it was the start of the Cold War period. The idea remained dormant until the early 1990s.

Since then, the infrastructural and economic integration of Eurasia has been discussed at many conferences and seminars. Rev. Sun Myung Moon suggested a holistic concept of a Peace Tunnel to bridge two nations and two continents, making every corner of five continents accessible to everybody.

In April 2007 the Russian government and the Academy of Sciences organized an international conference in Moscow to discuss the speedy construction of a railroad link from Siberia to Alaska and a tunnel under the Bering Strait. The conference proposed an intergovernmental agreement with the US to underwrite construction of the transport link in return for a stake in the business.

In April 2008 the media reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to propose a Bering Strait tunnel to US President George W. Bush at their meeting in Sochi. On the eve of this event, UPF’s International Leadership Conference in Seoul adopted an appeal to both leaders to discuss the issue, keeping in mind its symbolic and practical importance.

The project would cost an estimated $65 billion. The approximate cost of a feasibility study including research and an ecological assessment is estimated at $120 million and could be divided between the participating countries. A major portion of the Russian share of joint financing could be disbursed under the Russian Railways Strategy for 2016-2030, which aims to extend a 2,100-mile rail corridor to Uelen on the Bering Strait.

A tunnel connecting the far east of Russia with Alaska would open up the prospect of the ultimate rail trip across three quarters of the globe, from London to New York. The Bering Strait link would be twice as long as the Channel Tunnel connecting Britain and France.

This connection would have make possible the development of Siberia's gigantic raw materials resources for the benefit of the whole world. It would make large parts of Alaska and Canada habitable and would stimulate production in many areas.

To move forward on the project, we need a new vision of global governance and a much higher level of international cooperation, involving the United Nations, international financial institutions, regional cooperative bodies, private businesses, and NGOs. The UPF founder knows that this goal is achievable. After all, nations spend billions of dollars for wars and national rivalry. Now we have to learn how to come together to make large-scale peace projects.
‘Peace Bridges’ have to turn from metaphors to reality. It is for us now to make a step forward.