India conveyed “concerns” to the United States after the USS John Paul Jones Navy guided-missile destroyer conduced a freedom of navigation operation near India’s Lakshadweep Islands on April 7, according to a statement on Friday.
“The USS John Paul Jones was continuously monitored transiting from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits,” said the Ministry of External Affairs. “We have conveyed our concerns regarding this passage through our EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone] to the Government of U.S.A through diplomatic channels.”
The US 7th Fleet said on Wednesday that the USS John Paul, “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.”
It went on to say 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 claim.”
MEA: The Indian government'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..@IndianExpress
— Shubhajit Roy (@ShubhajitRoy) April 9, 2021
The operation, however, triggered controversy in India, with maritime experts contending it was “not incidental” and was a clear violation by the US.
The statement on Friday noted that the government of India’s stated position on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is that “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.”
US violated international law
The US military warned last year its warships would be “more assertive” in responding to violations of international law, citing in particular Beijing, which has expansionist ambitions in the South China Sea.
In a document setting objectives for the US Navy, Marines and Coast Guard for the coming years, the Pentagon stressed that several countries, notably Russia and China, “are contesting the balance of power in key regions and seeking to undermine the existing world order.”
“Our globally deployed naval forces interact with Chinese and Russian warships and aircraft daily,” the document said, noting their “growing aggressiveness” and calling China “the most pressing, long-term strategic threat.”
The latest incident between the US and China naval forces took place in late August, when Beijing said it had driven an American warship from the disputed Paracel archipelago.
The Asian power claims almost all of the islands of the South China Sea, territorial claims disputed by other countries in the region including Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei.
To counter China, the US has been sending ships to the region more frequently to carry out what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations.
Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk