U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would not have an adverse effect on its intelligence activities
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Myth: The Convention would prohibit or impair U.S. intelligence and submarine activities.
Reality: The Convention does not prohibit or impair intelligence or submarine activities. Joining the Convention would not affect the conduct of intelligence activities in any way. This issue was the subject of extensive hearings in 2004 before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Witnesses from Defense, CIA, and State all confirmed that U.S. intelligence and submarine activities are not adversely affected by the Convention.
We follow the navigational provisions of the Convention today and are not adversely affected; similarly, we would not be adversely affected by joining.
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.