1. Press Release
  2. Nuclear Weapons, Peacebuilding, U.S. Wars & Militarism

Abandoning the Open Skies Treaty Is a Mistake

By Timothy McHugh, May 21, 2020


Washington, DC – The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) expressed disappointment in today’s Trump Administration announcement that it will withdraw from the long-standing, multilateral Treaty on Open Skies. Formal termination will be effective in six months.

Contact: Tim McHugh, Friends Committee on National Legislation, media@fcnl.org; 202-903-2515

“This is the wrong time to walk away from a hard-won cooperative agreement that has made our country, our allies, and our world a little bit safer,” said Diane Randall, FCNL’s general secretary. “The global pandemic has powerfully reminded us that our survival depends on cooperation - with our neighbors, with other Americans, and with other countries.”

The Open Skies Treaty, approved unanimously by the Senate in 1993, allows the United States, Russia, and 32 other countries—most of whom are allies—to conduct unarmed observation flights over each other’s territories to monitor military stockpiles and movements and reduce Transatlantic tensions. Because the observation flights are monitored by the observed nation and camera resolutions are limited, the treaty skillfully increases transparency and improves confidence without undermining the observed country’s national security interests.

The Open Skies Treaty has been widely supported by military leaders and U.S. allies since it came into force in 2002. First imagined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the treaty was negotiated and signed by President George H.W. Bush. The treaty increases transparency and improves confidence without undermining the observed country’s national security interests.

“We must do all we can to keep the inferno of war from also threatening Europe and the Transatlantic. In an era of deep fakes and precision-guided disinformation, Open Skies delivers unquestioned facts. It has made America, and the world, safer,” said Anthony Wier, FCNL’s legislative secretary for nuclear disarmament and Pentagon spending. “Walking away from another winning deal for America ignores the spirit of confidence, cooperation, and problem solving we desperately need at this moment.”

To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.

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Timothy McHugh

  • Director of Media Relations

Tim leads organizational efforts to communicate about issues, victories, priorities, and updates through all available news channels – specifically the major media outlets. He is responsible for providing FCNL staff with opportunities to convey our message – in print and through the airways – to the public and throughout the country. He keeps FCNL issues and staff on the collective radars of reporters and journalists nationwide. Lastly, he runs FCNL several media-focused social media channels.