US says it will not rejoin Open Skies treaty with Russia

TEHRAN, May 28 (MNA) – The United States told Russia on Thursday it will not rejoin the Open Skies arms control pact, which allows unarmed surveillance flights over member countries, a US official reportedly said.

Citing unnamed US officials, the Associated Press reported that Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told the Russians that the Biden administration had decided not to re-enter the treaty, which had allowed surveillance flights over military facilities in both countries before President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact.

Thursday’s decision means only one major arms control treaty between the nuclear powers – the New START treaty – will remain in place, Aljazeera reported.

Trump had done nothing to extend New START, which would have expired earlier this year, but after taking office, the Biden administration moved quickly to extend it for five years and opened a review into Trump’s Open Skies Treaty withdrawal.

The officials said that the review had been completed and that Sherman had informed Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov of the US decision not to return to Open Skies on Thursday.

The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The move came before a meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland. They will try to find common ground amid a sharp deterioration in ties that have sunk relations to their lowest point in decades.

The Open Skies Treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the accord’s more than three dozen signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information about military forces and activities.

RHM/PR

News Code 174047

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