UNCLOS preamble specifically avoids regulating matters such as intelligence activities
Critics seem to overlook the fact that Articles 17 to 32 of the Convention address only the right of innocent passage. The preamble makes clear what would be true in any event: “matters not regulated by this Convention continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law.” Suffice it to say that the matters not regulated by the Convention include the right of self-defense, the international law of armed conflict, and the complex (and for understandable reasons, rarely discussed) questions regarding the practice of states with regard to covert intelligence activities in each others’ territory.
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.