March 24, 2024

National security leaders worry about U.S. failure to ratify Law of the Sea treaty

Thomas Shugart, a former U.S. Navy submarine warfare officer and a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, said being outside the treaty undercuts American credibility while China is laser-focused on building its maritime power. Shugart said China's deep sea miners have a second mission: collecting information for the Chinese military.

"If you're going to find submarines in the ocean, you need to know what the bottom looks like. You need to know what the temperature is. You need to know what the salinity is," Shugart said. "If China is using civilian vessels to sort of on the sly do those surveys, then that could improve their ability to find U.S. and allied submarines over time as they better understand that undersea environment."

Shugart also said China is flexing its maritime muscle by claiming the South China Sea as its private ocean.

The country has challenged the treaty's navigation laws that ensure safe passage by harassing passing ships, including the U.S. Navy. China has fired water cannons at its neighbors, caused collisions and even flashed a military-grade laser at ships.

Watch the full interview from CBS 60 Minutes.

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