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The U.S. has given notice that it will exit the Open Skies Treaty (OST), an agreement that allows countries to monitor signatories’ arms development by conducting surveillance flights over each other’s territories.

Details

  • U.S. said Russia had “continuously and flagrantly” violated the treaty.
  • The U.S.’s exit last year from another arms deal the West had signed with Russia — the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty — as well as its imminent departure from the OST has raised the strong possibility that the Trump administration may not renew the New Start Treaty, an agreement signed by the Obama administration with Russia that caps Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenal.
  • The Trump administration has been worried that extending New Start would negatively impact an arm deal with China and Russia.
  • The U.S. has used the treaty more intensively than Russia.
  • The State Department told the U.S. Congress earlier this year that it is concerned that China’s nuclear stockpile could be doubled if the New Start Treaty continued as is, without including China.

Open Skies Treaty (OST)

  • The Treaty on Open Skies establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants.
  • The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them.
  • Open Skies is one of the most wide-ranging international efforts to date promoting openness and transparency of military forces and activities.
  • The OST, first proposed in the early years of the Cold War, came into effect in 2002 and it allows its 34 signatories to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over the territory of treaty countries.

-Source: The Hindu

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