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Centre registers protest after US ship enters Indian waters without permission

The government has maintained that according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) "consent" is essential before any ship is allowed to pass through the country's waters

Geeta Mohan | April 10, 2021 | Updated 13:21 IST
Centre registers protest after US ship enters Indian waters without permission
Both India and the US are engaged in efforts through diplomatic channels to dial down temperatures

India has registered protests regarding the passage of USS John Paul through India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without "prior permission". Complaints through diplomatic channels have been registered in New Delhi and in Washington DC.

Ministry of External Affairs issued an official statement regarding this matter on Friday. The statement read, "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 government has maintained that according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) "consent" is essential before any ship is allowed to pass through the country's waters.

"The Government of India's stated position on the United Nations 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 statement added.

Meanwhile, the American Pentagon has stated that they were "conducting innocent passage" without "prior permission" since the activity was "consistent with international law".

"I can tell you is that 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," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Friday.

"That's consistent with international law. Again, we continue to maintain the right, indeed the responsibility, to fly, sail, and operate in accordance with international law," Kirby further added.

In a series of posts on Twitter, Strategic Affairs Expert Jeff Smith explained that this instance was not the first time that a US vessel has engaged in Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in India's EEZs.

"If you review America's annual freedom of navigation reports, you would see that the US has been conducting a FONOP in India's EEZ every year as far back as the reports go. It's routine, even if you're just finding out about it for the first time," he tweeted.

Adding, "More specifically, the U.S. has reported a FONOP in India's EEZ every year 2007-2021 with the exception of 2018 and 2020. It also conducted FONOPs in India's EEZ in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000-2003. In other words, this isn't new or unusual."

Both India and the US are engaged in efforts through diplomatic channels to dial down temperatures. The Pentagon's official announcement regarding the operation was unusual, causing an international stir.

Also Read: US Navy conducts operation near Lakshadweep without India's prior consent

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