President Trump has decided to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, an arms control accord, two senior administration officials confirmed to CBS News. President George H.W. Bush negotiated and signed the 1992 agreement, which permits unarmed surveillance flights over the 35 countries in the accord.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement later on Thursday afternoon confirming that the U.S. will withdraw from the treaty effective six months from tomorrow.
The White House is blaming Russia for the decision to withdraw from the treaty, saying that Russia has repeatedly violated the terms of the accord. Pompeo said in his statement that the U.S. may consider rejoining the accord if Russia abides by its terms.
"A cornerstone of President Trump's National Security Strategy is to protect the American people, the American way of life, and American security interests," Pompeo said. "After careful consideration, including input from Allies and key partners, it has become abundantly clear that it is no longer in America's interest to remain a party to the Treaty on Open Skies."
Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell also blamed Russia for the U.S. departure from the treaty.
"No country should tolerate such treaty abuses and we're taking action to right this wrong. America can't be expected to keep its skies open to Russian monitoring flights while Russia is unwilling to reciprocate on equal terms," Grenell said.
Mr. Trump's plan to withdraw from the treaty, which went into effect in 2002, was first reported by Reuters. Reuters also reported that U.S. and Russian officials have begun talks about a new round of nuclear arms negotiations.
Under the Open Skies Treaty, member states are allowed to conduct aerial surveillance of each other to gather information about a country's military forces and activities. In 2018, the U.S. carried out anover Ukraine, citing the Open Skies Treaty, after Russia seized three Ukrainian naval ships off Crimea.
UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that Mr. Trump's intent to withdraw from the global treaty on skies could be detrimental: "Ending such agreements without anything to replace them could result in destabilizing activities such as a dangerous new arms race, leading to possible miscalculation."
"We reiterate our concern regarding the erosion of the US-Russia arms control regime," Dujarric told CBS News at the daily briefing. "We stress that the arms control regime has provided security benefits for the entire international community by constraining strategic arms competition."
Mr. Trump's decision comes after the U.S.of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty last year, a missile reduction agreement signed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. The Trump administration claimed Russia had violated the terms of that treaty, which Moscow denied. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that Russia had "sole responsibility" for the administration's decision.
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