In unusual move, US navy conducts operation near Lakshadweep without India's consent

NEW DELHI: In an unusual move, the US Navy has declared it conducted freedom of navigation patrols in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) near Lakshadweep this week, without deliberately seeking New Delhis prior consent.
The US Navy regularly conducts such patrols in the contentious South China Sea to challenge Chinas aggressive territorial claims over its neighbours. But a provocative declaration of similar patrols in Indias EEZ, at a time the US is seeking Indias cooperation in strengthening alliances and partnerships to foster credible deterrence against China in the Indo-Pacific, has raised eyebrows here. There has been no official reaction from India till now.
The US Navys 7th Fleet said in an official statement that its Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones asserted navigational rights and freedoms around 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, without requesting Indias prior consent on April 7. This, it added, was consistent with international law.
India requires prior consent for military exercises or maneuvers in its EEZ or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law. This freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging Indias excessive maritime claims, said the US Navys statement.
US forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis. All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the US will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, it said.
We conduct routine and regular FONOPs, as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future. FONOPs are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements, it added.
An Indian officer, in turn, said: EEZs are certainly international waters where shipping cannot be impeded. The US Navy does undertake patrols in EEZs of different countries but to make such a provocative statement about India is highly unusual. While India ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1995, the US has not done it till now.
Indian warships in the past have chased away a few Chinese research vessels entering the Indian EEZ and engaging in suspicious military activity after suitable warnings. Indian domestic laws hold that any country carrying out military activity in its EEZ must provide prior notification, added the officer.
While a country has full sovereignty over territorial waters, which end at 12 nautical miles from the coast, it only has special rights in exploration of marine resources in its EEZ, which stretch to 200 nautical miles from the baseline.
Disclaimer: If you need to update/edit/remove this news or article then please contact our support team Learn more

Leave a Comment