New Tension Emerges Between India and US Regarding Territorial Integrity; Know Complete Issue

by Shatakshi Gupta

As we know that both India and the US are thriving for better relations. An incident has happened which can turn this sweet relation in a bad shape.Recently, the US Navy itself claimed that it entered into our territory without permission and even threatened to continue to do so. On this, India has objected.

 But the statement of the spokesman of the US Defence secretary does not seem to have made any difference. Operation in the Indian territory is claimed by the 7th Fleet of America, which is its largest fleet. The same force was deployed by the US in the Bay of Bengal during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 to pressurize India.

What is the whole issue?

On Wednesday, April 7, when US Ambassador for Climate Affairs John Cary was scheduled to visit India to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the US Navy’s USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), the destroyer, entered into India’s territorial water without permission. On objection by the Indian Navy, US Naval officers threatened that they would do the same in future.

As per, UN maritime law, there is an Exclusive Economic Zone up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coast. In such a situation, the US ship had to get permission before India entering the EEZ, but it did not do so. The American ship entered 130 nautical miles. This claim was made by the 7th fleet of the US Navy itself.

What the US says about this?                                           

The US Navy says that its operation was the Freedom of Navigation operation(FONOP)and by such an operation, it challenges those countries which show their maritime border exaggeratedly by penetrating their maritime boundary. It is not against any one country nor is it a political statement.

The US Navy has been doing such operations since 1979. US forces operate permanently in the Indo-Pacific region. All operations are carried out in accordance with International law. According to the US Defence Secretary, FONOPs are planned meticulouslyeach year.

India’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the Indian security forces continuously monitored the ship till its passing.  Besides, through diplomatic routes, India has made the United States aware of its concerns related to infiltration. But the US Defence Secretarystated that its operation was within the scope of international law. At the same time, he also alleged that India is extending its boundary.

From 1 October 2019 to 30 September 2020, the US challenged 19 countries and executed FONOPs. Some countries were challenged many times under such operations. These countries include China and Pakistan as well as his all-time friend Japan.

What International law says about this?

 In 1994, the UN-related maritime boundary law came into force also known as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. It has been signed by India. According to this, 200 nautical miles(370 km) from the coast of a country will be the Exclusive Economic Zone of that country. But the US has not yet signed the law. So this law is not binding on the US.

However, under the same law Territorial waters are considered to be only 12 nautical miles from the coast, that is, about 22 km.The EEZ is to be up to 200 nautical miles from the mainland. From this perspective, the US has not broken any international law.  According to the US Navy’s 2016 report, the US has been conducting such operations in the Indian maritime border since 1985.


Are the relations between the two deteriorating?

It does not seem to be apparent. Only last week John Carrey came to India and posed for photographs with Indian leaders. At the same time, Navy teams from both countries also joined quad-plus France’s Naval Exercise, which lasted till Wednesday. The US has also sought India’s help to increase participation against China in the Indo-Pacific region.