The US Navy’s 7th Fleet has said it conducted what the US calls ‘Freedom of Navigation Operations’ within India’s exclusive economic zone, off the Lakshadweep Islands, without New Delhi’s permission.
The operation “upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims”, a US Navy statement said.
“USS John Paul Jones 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,” the statement said.
India is yet to put out an official statement.
“FoN ops by USN ships (ineffective as they may be) in South China Sea are meant to convey a message to China that the putative EEZ around the artificial SCS islands is an ‘excessive maritime claim’. But what is the 7th Fleet message for India?” former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash said in a tweet on Friday.
“There is irony here. While India ratified UN Law of the Seas in 1995, the US has failed to do it so far. For the 7th Fleet to carry out FoN missions in Indian EEZ in violation of our domestic law is bad enough. But publicising it? USN please switch on IFF (Identification friend-or-foe),” the admiral said in another tweet.