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United States Gives Notice of Withdrawal from Treaty on Open Skies
American Journal of International Law  (IF3.091),  Pub Date : 2020-10-20, DOI: 10.1017/ajil.2020.73


On May 21, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies. The treaty, which has been ratified by several former Soviet Republics and most North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, allows states parties to conduct observation flights over each other's territory to build trust and transparency with respect to arms control. The treaty gives state parties a right to withdraw upon six months of notice, which Pompeo stated would be formally given by the United States on May 22. Pompeo described the U.S. withdrawal as a response to Russian violations of the treaty and held open the possibility that the United States would rescind its notice of withdrawal in the event of full Russian compliance. U.S. allies in Europe reaffirmed their own commitment to the treaty and to working with Russia over disputes arising from it. The announced U.S. withdrawal raises significant issues of U.S. domestic law, as the Trump administration did not comply with preconditions to withdrawal that had been established by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.