NEW DELHI: In a surprising move, the US Navy conducted ‘navigation operation’ within Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without any intimation to India. India on Friday conveyed its concerns to Washington through diplomatic channels over the US Navy warship’s unauthorised manoeuvre in India’s EEZ.
The US 7th Fleet had officially admitted on Wednesday that its warship sailed into the area without consent saying, “On April 7, 2021 (local time) USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone, without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law.” The Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) was carried out on April 7.
Adding further the US 7th Fleet statement termed India’s claims on EEZ as inconsistent. “India requires prior consent for military exercises or manoeuvres in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law.” As per the sources simple transit is permitted to all countries.
“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 external affairs ministry said in a statement.
The statement of 7th Fleet elaborated on the Indian government’s stated position on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which 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.”
While India ratified the UNCLOS in 1982 US is not its signatory.
Admiral Arun Prakash, former Indian navy Chief termed it ironical saying, 7th Fleet not only carried out FONO but publicised it too. Adm. Arun Prakash said on Twitter “There is irony here. While India ratified U.N. Law of the Seas in 1995, the U.S. has failed to do it so far. For the 7th Fleet to carry out FoN missions in Indian EEZ in violation of our domestic law is bad enough. But publicising it? USN please switch on IFF (Identification, friend or foe)!”. IFF is electronic means to distinguish between a friendly and an enemy.
India is examining the event told a source. “We have to examine it from the view of the intent and its future implications”, told the source.
Sources pointed to the US 7th Fleet Statement where it said that, “This freedom of navigation operation (“FONOP”) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims.”
Stating on the operations the Fleet said, “U.S. 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.”
Speaking on the operation the fleet said to continue it in the future. “We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (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.” 7th Fleet said.