China and Iran challenging U.S. operations because of its non-party status to UNCLOS
If adherence to the Convention made no difference perhaps this would simply be another lesson that strident political debate can sometimes harm the nation, as with the isolationist rhetoric of the America First Movement before World War II. But sadly the over quarter-century of United States non-adherence is severely harming the Nation. On a daily basis adversaries such as Iran use American non-adherence to assert that our Navy does not enjoy the protections of the Convention. China uses our non-party status to challenge our naval presence in the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea. We are unable to participate fully in the most important institutions for engaging on oceans law today, such as the annual meeting of States Parties to the Convention and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. By not taking our seat on the Council of the ISA we lose our veto over any distributions. By not adhering we also lose our ability to block potentially damaging amendments to the Convention.
The U.S. is currently tracking dozens of excessive claims by states, some of which are from states seeking to take advantage of perceived U.S. weakness due to its non-party status to UNCLOS. Regardless, the U.S. would be in a better position to contest these claims (and dissuade further claims) as a party to UNCLOS.