No basis to concerns that UNCLOS would impact U.S. intelligence operations
WATKINS: I'll just pick up on one that's very special to me, and that's on intelligence. There was a Senate Select Committee hearing on this intelligence issue on law of the sea in 2004. And witnesses came from the CIA, from Defense, and they all confirmed that the U.S. intelligence plus submarine activities would not be impaired by this convention.
And so, again, the hearings have gone into detail across some of the questions you raised and the myths that are thrown out there by the opponents that somehow this is going to do great damage. And you know, when our P-3 was very closely monitored by the People's Republic of China a few years ago, one of the things we were accused of is getting intelligence over international waters with our air phones headed towards China mainland. And we were sitting there as non-members of the Law of the Sea Convention and would have weak grounds on which to base -- we would have good grounds on which to base it, but whether they would be listened to was questionable.
So again, intelligence is not only gathering information in national waters but also international. So the whole issue of intelligence gathering is another one of these myths that's thrown out there that we're going to lose our ability to do what we have to do to be number one in our national security efforts through good intelligence gathering. So I think that that is, again, one thing that's thrown up there in the air that has no basis whatsoever.
Opponents of U.S. ratification of UNCLOS have argued that U.S. intelligence operations will be complicated by UNCLOS because it will prevent U.S. submarines from gathering intelligence in territorial waters. However, these operations are already regulated by the existing 1958 convention which the U.S. ratified and expects other nations to abide by. Furthermore, the intelligence community has reviewed the treaty and concluded that it was still in U.S. interests to ratify the treaty.