International law has established precedent that peacetime intelligence collection is not aggressive
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It is also important to note that UNCLOS does not treat intelligence collection as a threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal state in violation of the U.N. Charter. Article 19(2)(c) clearly distinguishes collecting intelligence from "threat or use of force," which is discussed as a separate prohibited activity in Article 19(2)(a) for ships engaged in innocent passage. This issue was resolved by the Security Council in 1960 following the shoot down of a U.S. U-2 spy plane near Sverdlovsk, Russia. An effort by the Soviet Union to have the Security Council decide that the activity of the U.S. spy plane was an act of aggression was soundly defeated seven to two (with two abstentions), thereby reaffirming the legality of peacetime intelligence collection under the U.N. Charter.47 This view is shared by most experts.4
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.