US Made No Decision On Withdrawal From Open Skies Treaty - State Dept.

US Made No Decision on Withdrawal From Open Skies Treaty - State Dept.

The United States is currently assessing the merits of its participation in the Open Skies Treaty and has not made a decision on withdrawal, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford said in his prepared testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 03rd December, 2019) The United States is currently assessing the merits of its participation in the Open Skies Treaty and has not made a decision on withdrawal, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford said in his prepared testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

"What we are doing right now is undertaking a thorough review of the merits and demerits of continued participation. No decision has been made to get out," Hale said.

Hale said there has been a lot of press speculation on the US open skies policy "none of which one should believe." The United States is currently complying with the agreement and it does make contributions to US security and that of its partners, Hale said.

In November, US lawmakers demanded that the Trump administration explain its reported plans to pull the United States out of the Open Skies Treaty.

Earlier, US media reported that President Donald Trump had signed a document to quit the Open Skies Treaty - a move Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said would be regrettable. The treaty, signed by more than 30 nations, allows for mutual surveillance flights to boost military transparency.

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev has said US plans to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty lowered the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons and multiplies the risks for the whole world.

According to Patrushev, these plans are part of US broader strategy to abandon its commitments under various strategic agreements, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and from the ABM Treaty, as well as Washington's reluctance to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to work on extending the START Treaty.

The Open Skies Treaty was signed in Helsinki on March 24, 1992. Currently, it comprises 34 member states. Russia ratified the treaty in May 2001. The parties to the treaty may conduct unmanned surveillance flights over each other's territories in order to gather information about military activities of concern.