New Delhi: The US Navy conducted a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) in the Indian Ocean region when its warship ventured into India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) near Lakshadweep Islands without the latter’s permission.
The operation was in accordance with international law and challenged India’s “excessive” maritime claims, the US Navy said in its statement. As per a statement issued by the Commander of the US seventh fleet, the exercise was undertaken by guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones on April 7, Business Today reported.
“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,” the US Navy said in its statement.
Prior consent from the Indian government is required for military exercises or manoeuvres in the country’s exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, which the US Navy said is “inconsistent with international law.”
“This freedom of navigation operation (“FONOP”) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims,” it said.
US forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis. All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, the statement said.
“We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future. FONOPs are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements,” it added.