Defense Leaders Push US to Sign Sea Treaty

Publication: The Associated Press

Author: Lolita C. Baldor


05/09/2012 - Top defense leaders argued Wednesday for the U.S. to ratify a long-debated treaty governing ocean rights in order to bolster the nation's national security interests in the Asia-Pacific region and other key global waters.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said approving the United Nations Law of the Sea treaty will strengthen America's strategic position in Asia.

"The western Pacific is a mosaic of competing claims for territory and for resources," Dempsey said during a forum hosted by the Atlantic Council and the Pew Charitable Trusts. "This is a critical region where, as a Pacific nation, our security and economic prosperity are inextricably linked. We have a vested interest in mitigating any conflict in the Asia-Pacific before it occurs."

The U.S. is the only major nation that has refused to sign the treaty, which has been endorsed by 161 countries and the European Union. 

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to have a hearing on the matter, and Panetta is slated to testify.

Jodi Seth, spokesperson for Sen. John Kerry, the panel chairman, said Wednesday that there are many new members of the Senate.

"Reliably conservative-minded businesses and notable Republican national security experts have urged action to protect America's interests. The unlikely allies who support the Treaty make a powerfully persuasive case," said Seth. 

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