The United States has given notice that it will back out of the Open Skies Treaty (OST). This agreement allows countries to monitor signatories’ arms development by conducting surveillance flights over each other’s territories.
History of Open Skies Treaty
- This treaty was signed in 1992 and came into force in 2002, allowing 34 countries — including the United States and Russia — to fly unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s territory.
- The signatories of the treaty include the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Sweden, Turkey, Belgium, Belarus, Croatia, Ukraine, Denmark, Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Estonia, Denmark, Georgia, Georgia, Includes Russia, Iceland, Boon, Slovakia, Russia, Ukraine and Slovenia.
- Kyrgyzstan is the only country that has not ratified this treaty.
What is Open Skies Treaty?
- 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.
Why does America want to back out of this treaty?
- Moscow and Washington have long accused the other of breaching its terms, and last year President Donald Trump suggested that the United States might leave the treaty altogether.
- American officials have long complained that Moscow was violating the Open Skies accord by not permitting flights over a city where it was believed Russia was deploying nuclear weapons that could reach Europe, as well as forbidding flights over major Russian military exercises. (Satellites, the main source for gathering intelligence, are not affected by the treaty.)
- United States was also angered by a Russian flight directly over his Bedminster, N.J., golf estate in 2017. And in classified reports, the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies have contended that the Russians are also using flights over the United States to map out critical American infrastructure that could be hit by conventional weapons or cyberattacks.
UPSC GS Paper 2. Topics Covered: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests