USA says it’s pulling out of Open Skies surveillance treaty
May 22 2020
The source added that while it is true the US gets its best intelligence from its satellites as opposed to OC-135 flights, focusing entirely on that is "selfish" because "a lot of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies rely on Open Skies for visibility into what goes on in Russian Federation".
The Open Skies agreement between Russian Federation, the United States and 32 other countries, mostly members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance, permits one country's military to conduct a certain number of surveillance flights over another each year on short notice.
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"During the course of this review it has become abundantly clear that it is no longer in America's interests to remain a party to the Open Skies treaty", said one of the officials. The senior administration officials said that amounted to an illegal restriction, under the treaty, coupled with a narrative that justifies Russia's regional aggression.
Leading congressional Democrats have urged the administration not to pull out of the treaty.
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Former Rep. John Tierney, D-Ma., the executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, urged the president to "reverse this decision, recommit to working with our allies to fix issues with the Open Skies Treaty and get rid of the staff who keep trying to wreck the global arms control and nonproliferation infrastructure in his name".
In abandoning the Open Skies Treaty, President Donald Trump is renouncing an arms control agreement that was seen as essential for transparency during the immediate post-Cold War years.
Noting that many USA allies in Europe want to keep the treaty in full force, Pompeo said, "If not for the value they place on the OST, we would likely have exited long ago". We will not contribute to further weaponizing and poisoning with distrust a Treaty that was meant to build confidence. But if the USA leaves, they called for European nations to stay in the treaty, fulfill its obligations and refrain from restricting the length of observation flights or banning flights over certain territories.
Another said extensive discussions were held with U.S. allies leading up to the decision but ultimately the administration decided "it is no longer in our interest" to participate in it.
The Open Skies idea was first proposed by former US President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955, but it was initially rejected by Moscow. Thirty-four nation parties have signed on to the treaty since it was signed in 1992. "I have a lot of concerns about the treaty as it stands now".
"Effective six months from tomorrow, the United States will no longer be a party to the Treaty", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
"The withdrawal by the US from this treaty would be not only a blow to the foundation of European security. but to the key security interests of the allies of the US", Grushko was quoted as saying by the RIA-Novosti news agency. All but two of the European Union's 29 member countries have joined the agreement and when the USA conducts intelligence flights, European allies are often brought along.