Sunday, October 24, 2021

The US Will Not Rejoin Russia in the Open Space Treaty

President Joe Biden’s administration informed Russia Thursday that America would not rejoin a major arms control agreement, while the two sides are preparing for a summit between their two leaders next month, the US State Department said.

US officials said Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman informed the Russians that the US government had decided not to enter into the Open Skies Treaty, which allows reconnaissance flights over military facilities in both countries before President Donald Trump steps down. the agreement. As a presidential candidate, Biden criticized Trump’s withdrawal, which he called “shortsighted”.

Thursday’s decision means that only one important arms control agreement between the two nuclear-armed nations is still in effect, namely the New START agreement. Trump has not taken any action to extend New START, which is supposed to end earlier this year. But after taking office, the Biden administration acted swiftly to extend it for five years and began a review of Trump’s American withdrawal from the Open Space Treaty.

Officials said the review was complete and Sherman had informed Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov of the US decision not to return to the 1992 Open Space Agreement. Officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and speak on condition of anonymity. The State Department only then announced the move.

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“The United States regrets that the Open Space Treaty has been undermined by Russian abuses,” the State Department said. “In the conclusion of its review of the treaty, the US has no intention of rejoining, given Russia’s failure to take any action to return to compliance. Furthermore, Russia’s behavior, including its recent actions regarding Ukraine, is not the behavior of partners who are committed to building trust. “

The statement came ahead of a meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland. They will seek to find common ground amid a sharp deterioration in relations between the two countries that have reached their lowest point in decades. Biden, who supported the agreement when he was a senator, has strongly criticized Trump’s withdrawal.

The Open Space Treaty is intended to build trust between Russia and Western countries by allowing more than three dozen signatories to the treaty to conduct reconnaissance flights over the other side’s territory to gather information on military strength and activity. More than 1,500 flights have been carried out under the agreement since it entered into force in 2002, with the aim of encouraging transparency and enabling monitoring of arms control and other agreements. [uh/ab]

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