US Navy conducted a freedom of navigation operation in Indian waters without prior consent to challenge India’s “excessive maritime claims.” Making it an unusual move, the Pentagon has defended its Navy and asserted its navigational rights within India’s exclusive economic zone without taking New Delhi’s permission. Pentagon maintained that their move was consistent with international law.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) questioned the US Navy’s 7th Fleet statement of April 7 about the freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) by the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones. Replying to India’s remark Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said that 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.

Kirby further added that it is the responsibility of the US to uphold the freedom of navigation and the rights and freedom and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law. Meanwhile India’s statement read that UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is that the Convention does not authorise other states to carry out in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state.

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