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T. Walsh: The Bering Strait Project

Presentation at a briefing at the United States Capitol, June 5, 2006

I appreciate the opportunity to offer a few remarks at this important World Russian Forum. Russia and America, once dire enemies and both such important nations in the world, can now pursue a path of cooperation and partnership. We want to consider issues related to the part of the world where the US and Russia are in fact neighbors. In that “neighborhood” of Alaska on the one side and Eastern Siberia on the other, there are vast resources and untapped potential. Development in those regions will naturally lead us to consideration of linking these neighbors via a Bering Strait crossing.

The Universal Peace Federation is a global alliance of religious, academic, political and civic leaders, and organizations joined together to promote peace—a unified world in which all people live together in harmony and cooperation for the benefit of everyone. The Peace Federation provides a mechanism for cooperative peacebuilding efforts among governmental, religious, cultural, educational and civil society representatives, working together with mutual respect and a shared commitment to cooperation and good governance. UPF, founded by Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, is guided by a vision of humanity as one global family under God, called to live in accordance with core, universal principles.

It is in the light of our mission for global peacebuilding that UPF advocates the construction of a Bering Strait crossing, what we call the Bering Strait Peace King Tunnel. First articulated last year by Dr. Moon, this project, once complete, would physically interconnect humankind, facilitating the free flow of people and products, from Santiago, Chile, across Eurasia, to London, Paris or Rome. This project is significant in two ways:

1. It has high moral, social and symbolic value for peace, in particular by linking the former enemy nations of the US and Russia; and bridging two continents, and

2. It has immense practical value by greatly facilitating the global transport and exchange of goods; certainly the increased interaction and engagement of the world’s peoples will be very positive for world peace.

Although a vision of a Bering Strait tunnel has existed for well over 100 years, now, in the early 21st century, the time is ripe to bring about its realization. We are at a significant juncture in human history, where the world is ready to break down old barriers and create new linkages. Today, with the advent of the Internet and that age of globalization, no nation can survive through isolation from its neighbors.

The Bering Strait Peace King Tunnel will have the most immediate impact upon the regions to be interconnected, that is, Alaska and eastern Siberia, two regions which have enormous untapped reserves of natural resources, such as oil, gas, coal, or timber. These resources can be utilized for the benefit of humankind. Western Canada will also be a huge beneficiary, and China should surely play an important role in this project.

Dr. Moon has previously advocated other giant infrastructure projects to connect humankind and build world peace. In 1981, in Seoul, Korea he proposed an undersea tunnel to connect, by rail and road, Japan with the Korean Peninsula, as part of an International Highway system. He supported ongoing exploratory and feasibility studies for that tunnel, and today, construction of that tunnel is closer to reality. Last year, 32 Asian nations became formal members of the Asian Highway Network, comprising 55 Asian routes. A Japan-Korea tunnel should be a linchpin for that system. UPF, an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the UN's Economic and Social Council, also notes the important efforts by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific to promote a Trans-Asian Railway, that would come to include not only a Japan-Korea rail link, but surely a Bering Strait rail link as well.

UPF appreciates the pioneering work of both the Interhemispheric Bering Strait Tunnel and Railroad Group in North America, led by Mr. George Koumal, and the Center for Regional Transportation Projects in Moscow, Russia. We also recognize that important political and educational groundwork is being done on related development initiatives in the U.S. and Canada by numerous groups such as the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a public-private partnership in Seattle, Washington.

And I want to announce that a new organization, PK International, has been established in Seoul to intensively focus on development and feasibility studies for the Bering Strait Peace King Tunnel. The Peace Federation realizes that completion of a rail link between Alaska and the lower 48 states through western Canada is a necessary first step to realizing the dream of connecting the continents across the Bering Strait.

I especially want to thank Mr. Robert Corbisier, from Governor Frank Murkowski's office, for coming all the way to Washington to explain Alaska’s interest in connecting its railroad to the lower 48 states.

Once the U.S. and Canada come to agreement and begin construction on this rail link, the dream of a Bering Strait crossing will be that much closer to reality. I encourage a vigorous dialogue among government, civil society, and the business and philanthropic sectors on practical steps that can be done to advance the goals of economic development the well-being of all people on the frontiers of Russia and North America, and building a greater basis for world peace. Thank you very much.