SEA LAW TREATY PUSH
The Obama administration and Sen. John F. Kerry are pushing for Senate ratification of the controversial Law of the Sea Treaty amid heightened tensions over Chinese maritime aggressiveness stemming from the 1982 pact.
Administration officials recently held interagency meetings on ratification plans, and teams of officials have briefed some senators on the drive to approve the treaty.
The treaty gives nations a 200-mile Economic Exclusion Zone. China has used that provision to claim wide areas of international waters as its own, prompting recent clashes in the South China, East China and Yellow seas as well as verbal sparring with the Pentagon over freedom of navigation.
One key vote will be that of Sen. Richard G. Lugar, the liberal Indiana Republican who in the past supported the treaty.
Mr. Lugar, a six-term senator, is facing a tough re-election primary challenge from Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who is backed by tea party conservatives. A vote by Mr. Lugar to support the treaty would likely boost Mr. Mourdock, who according to one poll this week holds a slight lead over Mr. Lugar.
“The chances are slim to none of the Senate seriously addressing this treaty at a time when the nation is rightfully focused on the fundamental issues of jobs, debt and war,” he said.
The treaty push is part of the administration’s policy of using international agreements as a centerpiece of national security policies.
Critics say those policies usually involve signing agreements that constrain the United States, while allowing foreign signatories to violate or circumvent the accords.
A main objection of critics of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, its formal name, is that the agreement undermines U.S. sovereignty.
Non-navigation provisions would give the United Nations some power to control access to undersea resources and also to intervene in U.S. domestic affairs.
A senior Senate national security aide said Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, does not plans to go forward with a full Senate vote until he is assured of having 67 or more senators, a two-thirds majority, vote in favor of ratification.View Entire Story
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Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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