US To Withdraw From 35-Nation Open Skies Treaty

Reuters reports:

The United States announced its intention on Thursday to withdraw from the 35-nation Open Skies treaty allowing unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, the Trump administration’s latest move to pull the country out of a major global treaty.

The administration said Russia has repeatedly violated the pact’s terms. Senior officials said the pullout will formally take place in six months, based on the treaty’s withdrawal terms.

NATO allies and other countries such as Ukraine have pressed Washington to remain in the treaty, and Trump’s decision could aggravate tensions within the alliance. The administration also pulled the United States out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia last year.

NBC News reports:

The decision could raise questions about Trump’s commitment to extending or renegotiating the New START treaty, the only remaining treaty constraining the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, which imposes limits on the number of U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear missiles. Exiting the Open Skies treaty is expected to strain relations with Moscow and upset European allies. Members of Congress swiftly spoke against the decision Thursday.

“The administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty is a slap in the face to our allies in Europe, leaves our deployed forces in the region at risk, and is in blatant violation of the law,” Reps. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., chairman of that panel’s’ Strategic Forces subcommittee said in a statement.