Impossible for proponents of UNCLOS to have high confidence that UNCLOS won't restrict US intelligence operations
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Assertion #3: U.S. participation in UNCLOS will not undermine intelligence operations. Fact: It is impossible to confirm this assertion because the relevant intelligence activities are classified. It is clear, however, that U.S. participation in UNCLOS is unlikely to facilitate U.S. intelligence activities. For example, a coastal state may demand that all submarines entering its exclusive economic zone surface and identify themselves. Even if the U.S. were a party to the treaty, the Navy would not invoke UNCLOS to justify its presence in these waters when it engages in intelligence operations. Instead, it would simply ignore the demand and avoid being caught. On this basis, it is unclear how the U.S. intelligence community would suffer by not joining the treaty.
Under the convention, the United States assumes a number of obligations at odds with its military practices and national security interests, including a commitment not to collect intelligence. The U.S. would sign away its ability to collect intelligence vital for American security within the “territorial waters” of any other country (Article 19). Further- more, U.S. submarines would be required to travel on the surface and show their flags while sailing within territorial waters (Article 20).