Donald Trump withdraws the United States from the Open Skies Arms Control Treaty

Donald Trump speaks to the press at the White House in Washington on May 21.
Donald Trump speaks to the press at the White House in Washington on May 21. MANDEL NGAN / hooly News

The decision was feared by allies of the United States, Donald Trump confirmed it Thursday, May 21 before leaving the White House for a trip to Michigan. Washington will unilaterally withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, which consolidates the arms control system by allowing its signatories, starting with the United States and Russia, to reciprocal overflights of their respective territories. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the exit from the United States will occur in six months, after the presidential election on November 3.

As for withdrawal of the mid-range arms treaty in 2018, Donald Trump put forward the attitude of Moscow. "Russia has not respected the treaty, so as long as it does not respect it, we will withdraw from it", assured the President of the United States. Praising the quality of his relationship with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump hoped, however, that a new negotiation could allow, in the future, to keep part of the architecture of arms control.

" There is a very good chance that we will be able to reach a new agreement, or that we will do something to put this agreement back in place "Said the President of the United States with optimism. "So I think what is going to happen is that we are going to withdraw and that they are going to come back and want to reach an agreement. We have had a very good relationship recently with Russia. And you can see it when it comes to oil ", he continued in an allusion to negotiations to reduce production of black gold to support prices.

As with leaving the Iran nuclear deal, Thursday’s US decision casts a thick veil over the future of the treaty. "Russia can make the political calculation that it is better to stay for the moment to highlight the behavior of the United States", believes a good connoisseur of the file in Washington wishing to remain anonymous.

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Born of the will of the American president George HW Bush who had laid down its principles in 1989 in the last years of the Soviet Union, the treaty called into question Thursday did not come into force until 2002. The opening of the airspace for mutual recognition flights that it allows today concerns the 34 countries signatory to the agreements of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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