US withdraws from Open Skies Treaty

The United States has formally withdrawn from the Treaty on Open Skies.

It follows the elapsing of six months since the United States announced they would pull out of the multinational surveillance treaty.

“Six months having elapsed, the US withdrawal took effect on 22 November 2020, and the United States is no longer a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies,” the US Department of State said in a statement.

The Treaty on Open Skies allows countries to carry out unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s territory.

The flights began in 2002 in an effort to build trust between the treaty’s 34 signatories.

Since then, more than 1,500 unarmed flights under the agreement have enabled nations to gather security data from military exercises and arms activity.

However, the US has accused Russia of abusing it and on 22 May the Trump administration notified the Treaty Depositaries of their decision to withdraw from Open Skies.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Sunday, saying the US is now “more secure” thanks to the nation’s withdrawal from the treaty.

He wrote: “Today, pursuant to earlier notice provided, the United States withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies is now effective.

“America is more secure because of it, as Russia remains in non-compliance with its obligations.”

However, many have raised concerns about the United States’ decision since May.

When the US first announced its intention to withdraw from the Open Skies, the United Nations warned that ending such agreements without anything to replace them could “result in destabilising activities such as a dangerous new arms race”.

Similarly, France raised concerns about the US decision when it was first announced.

Last month, a House of Lords committee was told by experts that President Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the agreement could allow Russia’s activities to go unchecked.

US withdraws from Open Skies Treaty


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