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Pentagon defends its Navy ship citing navigational rights inside India’s EEZ without permission

Recently, the Pentagon has defended its Navy asserting its navigational rights within India’s exclusive economic zone without taking New Delhi’s permission. It called the move “consistent with international law”. 

On Wednesday, the atypical move, the US navy 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. Later, on Friday it conveyed concerns to Washington via diplomatic channels. 

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also defend 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 said- “upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses” of the sea recognized in international law by challenging India’s “excessive maritime claims”.

When the media asked about India’s reaction to the US Navy’s move. The Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby on Friday stated- “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”.

Previously, declaring about the operation, the recent statement by the 7th Fleet said- “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.”

Moreover, the MEA 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 the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and on the continental shelf, military exercises, in particular, those including the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state”. 

Lastly, the USS John Paul Jones was constantly monitored transiting from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Straits. We have communicated our concerns regarding this passage via our EEZ to the government of the US via diplomatic channels”. 

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