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A Response to:
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Indy Star, 7/30/06

An Introduction to the
North American Union

A Letter to Senator Lugar regarding the Law of the Sea Treaty

Senator Lugar's Response

Rebuttal Letter to Senator Lugar

A full listing of letters from around the state coming soon!

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United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510-1401

April 13, 2004

Dear Mr. Sparks

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Law of the Sea Convention. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss where this treaty came from and why it is important to the United States.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee took up this treaty because President Bush and his Administration asked us to do so. The Law of the Sea was one of only five pending treaties that the Bush Administration placed in the “urgent” category on its last Treaty Priority List. Our Committee held two hearings last October on this Convention. At those hearings, we heard testimony of support from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the State Department, the Navy and the Coast Guard. The Administration even helped write the resolution of advice and consent accompanying the treaty. The State Department, the Defense Department, the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Justice Department, the Commerce Department, and the EPA participated in this interagency drafting process.

The U. S. military has been particularly supportive because they judge that it will benefit U.S. national security. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, has written to me saying, “The Convention remains a top national security priority.” The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, wrote: “It has been the consistent longstanding position of the Navy that accession to the Convention will benefit the United States.” Our top military officials assert that Law of the Sea will benefit our war against terrorism, ensure our access to strategic straits and chokepoints, and will not adversely affect our intelligence gathering capabilities.

Based on the strong support of the military, the Bush Administration, ocean industries and environmentalists, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 19-0 in favor of this treaty. This vote followed two public hearings, four staff briefings and more than four months of review. Unfortunately, some misinformation has been put out about how the Convention would work. I would like to clarify the record.

First, contrary to some claims, the Law of the Sea provides no decision-making role for the United Nations. The words “United Nations” appear in the title of the Convention only because that is where negotiations physically took place.

Second, the Convention solidifies our legal hold over our Exclusive Economic Zone that stretches 200 nautical miles off our coast. Within this area, which is larger than the territory of the continental United States, the Convention affirms unchallenged American rights to our ocean resources.

Third, every major American ocean industry supports the Convention, including those dealing with oil and natural gas, drilling technology, shipping, fishing, ship building and telecommunications. These industries are telling us that the Law of the Sea is good for their business and good for U. S. jobs.

Fourth, the Convention does not levy taxes or require any technology transfers.

Fifth, some claims have tried to portray President Reagan as being against the treaty. In fact, in 1983 he proclaimed that the United States would abide by all provisions of the Convention except those dealing with deep-seabed mining in the open ocean outside our Exclusive Economic Zone. His administration outlined how the deep-seabed mining provisions could be fixed. The United States and other industrialized nations pressed for a renegotiation of these provisions. These talks were successful in fixing this one area of the treaty President Reagan, myself, and many other members of Congress and the executive branch believed was counterproductive.

Finally, it is important to note that failure to ratify the Convention will not insulate the U.S. Navy or American industry from its provisions. Already, 145 countries have ratified the treaty. Our Navy, our fishermen, our oil and natural gas explorers and our shipping fleet tell us that they have to deal with the Convention whenever they interact on ocean issues with foreign governments or companies. If we fail to ratify it, however, we will accomplish nothing. We will simply remove the U.S. from discussions – which we could likely dominate – about amendments to the treaty and economic claims in the open ocean. For example, the Russians are pursuing vast claims in the Arctic Ocean that we need to stop. But if we are not part of the Convention, they will be able to make their arguments while we are on the sidelines. We should not let the rest of the world make ocean policy that will affect U.S. interests.

That is why the Bush Administration put Law of the Sea in the “urgent” category on its treaty list. That is why the Foreign Relations Committee voted 19-0 in favor of it. I have opposed many multi-lateral treaties that were poorly negotiated, unenforceable, or otherwise not in the interest of the United States. But the Law of the Sea is important to American national security and economic interests. Thank you, again, for contacting me.


Richard G. Lugar
United States Senator