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Iran Press TV

Lawmakers demand explanation for Trump's 'illegal' withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty

Iran Press TV

Saturday, 23 May 2020 6:12 PM

Two US House of Representatives committee lawmakers are demanding an explanation from the Trump administration over the president's planned withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty.

Chairman of House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Eliot L. Engel, and Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, Adam Smith, on Friday denounced US President Donald Trump's decision to "illegally" pull out from the Open Skies Treaty.

In a letter to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, the two Congressmen warned that Trump's "short-sighted" and "regrettable" move will endanger US national security and empower Russia.

"It appears that short-sighted interests and partisan politics prevailed over reason and good foreign policy. This is a regrettable decision that will have lasting consequences. We will continue to press this Administration and hold it accountable to ensure decisions are made with the best interest of the American people, and our allies and partners, in mind," wrote the lawmakers who insisted that an explanation be given by the Trump administration for the "intended illegal action".

"Exercising Congress's constitutional duty, we are writing to demand an explanation for this intended illegal action and insist that the administration comply with Section 1234," the chairmen demanded.

Under the Open Skies Treaty, the more than 30 signatories, including the United States and Russia, can fly unarmed observation flights over each other. Its intention is to provide transparency about military activities to avoid miscalculations that could lead to war.

After Trump announced the US withdrawal, Pompeo said the administration would submit its formal notice of intent Friday to the other treaty members.

Under the process laid out in the treaty, a formal notice of intent kicks off a six-month period before the withdrawal is final.

In announcing the withdrawal, the Trump administration cited Russian violations, including Moscow restricting flights over Kaliningrad and areas near its border with the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia denied the US allegation that Moscow had violated the terms of the Open Skies Treaty.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday that Washington had provided no concrete evidence to prove the allegations.

Ryabkov also regretted the planned US withdrawal from the treaty, saying Trump's move would undermine international security.

The US pullout from the treaty comes against the backdrop of similar moves by the Trump administration pulling out of major international agreements since Trump started his tenure in office in January 2017.

Many fear Trump's move on the Open Skies would lead to a halt to the 2010 New START accord, a deal which imposes limits on the number of deployments by the US and Russia for strategic nuclear arms.

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