Conveyed Concerns: India as US Navy Sends Warship Near Lakshadweep

India said no country can carry out military exercises in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) without permission.

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India
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The US Navy on Friday, 9 April, released a statement on its navigational rights west of Lakshadweep Islands citing international laws.
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India on Friday, 9 April, rejected the US’ contention that its domestic maritime law is in violation of the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea, and expressed its concerns about a US naval ship entering Indian waters.

Earlier on Friday, the US had announced Freedom of Navigation Operation in Indian waters off Lakshadweep Islands. The US Navy said that it carried out a Freedom of Navigation Operation inside India's Exclusive Economic Zone without prior consent, in accordance with international laws.

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, “asserted freedom” approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s Exclusive Economic zone (EEZ), the US Navy said in the statement.

The US Navy’s Stand

“US Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis. All operations are designed in accordance with international laws and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international laws allow,” the statement by the US Navy read.

“India requires prior consent for military exercises in its exclusive economic zone, a claim inconsistent with international laws. This freedom of navigation upheld rights, freedom and lawful use of sea recognised in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims,” it added.

The US Navy further said that it will continue to conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as it has done in the past.

“FONOPs are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements,” the statement read.

What MEA Said

The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement, "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 military exercises or manoeuvres in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and on the continental shelf, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state."

The ministry also stated that the US naval ship, 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 ministry said.

What the Laws Say

Every coastal country’s EEZ extends to 200 nautical miles (370km) from its shores. Any activity within the EEZ or Indian waters needs prior permission as per Indian laws. The country in question has exclusive rights to all resources in the water.

Any military activity in the EEZ reportedly requires India’s permission.

Indian government officials told IANS that it’s unusual for such a statement to be released, adding that if it was an innocent passage it wouldn’t be an issue.

“We don't object to normal transiting. But if there has been an operational exercise without informing then it needs to be taken up,” official sources told IANS.

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