Washington, DC – The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) urged President-elect Joe Biden to work with the remaining parties of the Open Skies Treaty, an arms control agreement involving Russia, the U.S., and 32 other states, on preserving as many of the security benefits it provides for as possible. The Trump administration announced its intention to pull out of the treaty in May 2020 and that withdrawal took full effect on November 22.
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“This is the wrong time to walk away from a hard-won cooperative agreement that has made our country, our allies, and our world more safe and secure,” said Diane Randall, FCNL general secretary. “Ripping up treaties that have aided the cause of peace for nearly 20 years is not a responsible thing to do in the waning days of a presidency.”
The Open Skies Treaty, negotiated in 1992, allowed participating countries to conduct unarmed observation flights over one another’s territory. Every country has an annual quota for how many flights it must accept and how many it can conduct. The treaty was approved unanimously by the Senate in 1993 and entered into force in 2002.
“The Open Skies Treaty reduced transatlantic tensions and improved confidence among the countries involved. Without the observations allowed by the treaty, the United States will be deprived of a safe and verifiable way to obtain facts about military activity worldwide,” said Michelle Fujii, FCNL’s nuclear disarmament lobbyist. “Through decades of compliance, the Open Skies Treaty has helped build confidence and global security.”