Democrats are warning that President Donald Trump is considering withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty that permits state parties to conduct unarmed observation flights over other state parties, The Hill reported on Sunday.
“We are deeply troubled by the Trump administration’s sustained push to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty and we reject the administration’s arguments,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. Jack Reed and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen.Bob Menendez said in a statement.
They added that withdrawing "in the midst of a global health crisis is not only shortsighted, but also unconscionable” and said the administration is trying “to limit appropriate congressional consultation on, and scrutiny of, the decision.”
The accord permit the treaty’s 35 signatories to fly unarmed observation flights over each other's territories to provide transparency and decrease the danger of accidental war.
A senior administration official told The Hill that “We are currently reviewing the costs and benefits associated with our participation and considering all options under the treaty to achieve our national security objectives.”
Some Republicans have argued that Russian restrictions on the 2002 treaty give Moscow an unfair advantage over the U.S., which has determined since 2017 that Russia is in violation of the accord.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr last month wrote to Trump that “the U.S. does not gain additional intelligence beyond our far more advanced capabilities, while the Russians use their flights to gain a view of the homeland that is otherwise inaccessible to them.”
But supporters of the treaty, including some Republicans, argue that American allies back the accord and benefit from it.
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