Washington/New Delhi: After India expressed concerns over a US warship sailing into India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) near the Lakshadweep, Washington has defended its move, calling it “consistent with international law”.
Asserting the US’ navigational rights, the Pentagon stated that the US doesn’t need India’s permission to sail into its EEZ.
But PTI reports that New Delhi does not allow foreign ships to hold military exercises or manoeuvres in its EEZ without permission.
The development comes after the US Navy’s 7th Fleet announced that it conducted a freedom of navigation operation in Indian waters without prior consent to challenge India’s “excessive maritime claims”, triggering a reaction from New Delhi, which last Friday said it has conveyed concerns to Washington through diplomatic channels.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also contested the US Navy’s 7th Fleet statement of April 7 that the freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) by the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones “upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses” of the sea recognized in international law by challenging India’s “excessive maritime claims”.
When asked, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said last Friday: “The USS John Paul Jones, a Navy destroyer, asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Republic of the Maldives by conducting innocent passage through its territorial sea in normal operations within its exclusive economic zone without requesting prior permission”. He added, “That’s consistent with international law.”
MEA in its statement said: “India’s stated position on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is that the Convention does not authorize other states to carry out in EEZ 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.”
MEA had continuously monitored the USS John Paul Jones transiting from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits.