Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 9
In what could lead to serious questions on the India-US relations, the US Navy has announced that it has ‘asserted’ navigational rights in the Arabian Sea and inside India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), without requesting India’s prior consent.
The 7th Fleet of the US Navy has made an announcement about one of its warships saying “USS John Paul Jones (it) asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands. This freedom of navigation operation (“FONOP”) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims.”
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The US said its act was consistent with international law while India’s claims were not in order of the international law. “India requires prior consent for military exercises or manoeuvres in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law,” the statement of the 7th fleet said.
The statement 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.”
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 United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, it said.
Former Indian Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash tweeted, “There is irony here. While India ratified UN Law of the Seas in 1995, the US has failed to do it so far. For the 7th Fleet to carry out FoN (Freedom of Navigation) missions in Indian EEZ in violation of our domestic law is bad enough. But publicising it? USN please switch on IFF (identification of friend or foe).”
The Indian Navy is yet to respond.
Two years ago, a Chinese survey vessel was driven out of the EEZ off the coast of Andaman and Nicobar Islands on the same grounds that it had no prior permission.
The US statement has come even as five countries, including four members of the Quadrilateral or ‘Quad’ countries, are in the middle of a military exercise in the Bay of Bengal near the strait of Malacca, the busy shipping way that leads to China.
The ‘Quad’ — India , US, Japan and Australia — along with the French Navy are doing a first-of-its kind multi-lateral maritime exercise, La Pérouse.
India conveys concerns to US
Meanwhile, India on Friday said it has conveyed concerns to the United States over a US Navy ship carrying out a freedom of navigation operation in the Indian exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said US Navy ship John Paul Jones was continuously monitored transiting from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits.
India’s reaction came after the US Navy, in an unusual move, announced that one of its ships conducted patrols in the Indian EEZ this week, without seeking consent from India.
“The USS John Paul Jones was continuously monitored transiting from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits. We have conveyed our concerns regarding this passage through our EEZ to the government of USA through diplomatic channels,” the MEA said.
It said India’s stated position has been that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea does not authorise other countries to carry out military exercises or manoeuvres in an EEZ and on the continental shelf without the consent of the coastal nation.
“India’s stated position on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is that the convention does not authorise other States to carry out in the Exclusive Economic Zone and on the continental shelf, military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal State,” the MEA said. —with PTI
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