Trump administration exits Open Skies Treaty

Cheryl Sanders
November 23, 2020

The United States on Sunday pulled out of a 1992 arms control treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights over the territories of member countries to build confidence and promote the transparency of military activities.

The Open Skies Treaty, which entered into force in 2002, had a total of 34 members including Canada, Russia and many European nations prior to the USA withdrawal.

"Today marks six months since the United States submitted our notice of withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies", White House national security adviser Robert C. O'Brien said in a statement.

Belarus is counting on the political wisdom of the United States and hopes the country will reconsider its decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, reads a statement of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in connection with the withdrawal of the United States from the Open Skies Treaty, BelTA learned from the press service of the Foreign Ministry. It limits the United States and Russian Federation to having no more than 1,550 nuclear weapons deployed at a given time.

It specifies quotas for observation flights, the types of sensors allowed on observation aircraft, and inspections of the sensors by an observed country.

America's European allies, however, value the treaty, as it gives them the ability to collect aerial reconnaissance information that they would not necessarily have access to outside of the treaty. He also said USA bases in Europe would not be exempt from Russian surveillance missions.

President-elect Joe Biden, who assumes the Oval Office in January, has vowed that the USA would rejoin on his first day in the White House.

In an article, Pifer noted that, despite U.S. reconnaissance satellites being superior to the aircraft permitted in the Open Skies agreement, the treaty has "several advantages".

Pentagon officials have told CNN that the United States military intends to share some of its intelligence and reconnaissance data from assets such as satellites with European allies in order to help compensate for any loss of critical information from the cessation of Open Skies flights.

On Sunday, Washington confirmed that it is no longer a party to the Open Skies Treaty. "Without us, the Treaty could crumble".

Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the treaty in May, saying: "Russia didn't adhere to the treaty, so until they adhere, we will pull out". "Withdrawal will exacerbate growing tensions between the West and Russian Federation, and increase the risks of miscalculation and conflict".

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