In safe waters

The industry, Pentagon and the US navy lobby for the ratification of a sea treaty

Published: Monday 31 August 1998

THE us Navy, oil industry and telecommunication giants are trying hard to take the Law of the Sea Treaty out of the 'deep freeze' as the nation is still to ratify it. The deadline for ratifying the treaty, an international agreement on regulating commerce, navigation and exploration on and beneath the oceans, ends on November 16, 1998. Till now 125 countries have ratified.

The treaty with the proposed Jamaica-based authority on deep-seabed mining in future, if not ratified by the us, will not fetch it a place in the decision-making body of the authority, thus affecting us's future sea-related mining activities. It would also affect its security concerns, as perceived by the Navy which has recently gone public in support of the treaty. Similarly, the oil industry and the telecommunications giant AT & T are lobbying hard in favour of the treaty. Oil industry executives say that they need the treaty to protect offshore drilling rights as well as for passage for tankers. AT & T officials said they need it to give legal protection to the ships that lay and maintain underwater telephone cables.

In 1982, this treaty was rejected by the then president, Ronald Reagan, protesting its provision requiring industrialised nations to share deep-sea mining technology and revenue from mining operations with less developed countries. In 1994, president Bill Clinton signed the treaty and sent it to the Senate for approval.

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