NATO allies, other nations urge US not to withdraw from Open Skies accord

Filed under: All News,more news,Opinion,RECENT POSTS,Somali news |

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 had repeatedly violated the pact‘s terms. Senior officials said the pullout would formally take place in six months, but President Donald Trump held out the possibility that Russia could come into compliance.

“I think we have a very good relationship with Russia. But Russia didn’t adhere to the treaty. So until they adhere, we will pull out,” Trump told reporters.

His decision deepens doubts about whether Washington will seek to extend the 2010 New START accord, which imposes the last remaining limits on US and Russian deployments of strategic nuclear arms to no more than 1,550 each. It expires in February.

 Trump has repeatedly called for China to join the United States and Russia in talks on an arms control accord to replace New START. China, estimated to have about 300 nuclear weapons, has repeatedly rejected Trump’s proposal.

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien told Fox News Channel later on Thursday that he did not expect the United States to leave the New START accord.

NATO allies and other countries like Ukraine had pressed Washington not to leave the Open Skies Treaty, whose unarmed overflights are aimed at bolstering confidence among members and providing them forewarning of surprise military attacks.

In Moscow, RIA state news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying that Russia had not violated the treaty and nothing prevented the continuation of talks on technical issues that Washington calls violations.

The Open Skies decision followed a six-month review in which officials found multiple instances of Russian refusal to comply with the treaty.

Last year, the administration pulled the United States out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.

A senior administration source said US officials had begun talks in recent days with Russian officials about a new round of nuclear arms negotiations to “begin crafting the next generation of nuclear arms control measures”.

Concern that US withdrawal could prompt Russian exit

Trump’s arms control negotiator mounted a full-blown defence of the administration’s arms control policies, focusing on the president’s proposal that China join the United States and Russia on a replacement for New START.

“We know how to win these races and we know how to spend the adversary into oblivion. If we have to, we will, but we sure would like to avoid it,” Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea told the Hudson Institute think tank.

Administration officials cited a years-long effort by Russia to violate the terms, such as by restricting US overflights of Russia’s neighbor Georgia and the Russian military enclave in Kaliningrad on the Baltic coast.

Source:france24.com