President Donald Trump on Sunday formally exited the Open Skies Treaty, but now he's moving to scrap the planes, ensuring President Joe Biden will not be able to re-enter the program easily.
The Open Skies Treaty is an 18-year old agreement designed to allow the U.S. to fly reconnaissance missions over Russia to ensure the Pentagon and the President are informed of military deployments and movements. First proposed in 1992, the treaty was formalized in 2002. 34 nations are party to the agreement, and all are allowed to fly unarmed aircraft over any member nation. The goal is to ensure transparency and mutual understanding.
But Trump is working to ensure his "America First" policy, which now puts the U.S. at a disadvantage again, outlives his tenure in the White House for as long as possible.
"Complicating Biden's options, the Trump administration is designating Open Skies aircraft 'excess defense articles' and will 'liquidate' the planes after leaving the treaty today," the Wall Street Journal's Michael R. Gordon said Sunday.
“We’ve started liquidating the equipment,” a senior U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal. “Other countries can come purchase or just take the airframes. They are really old and cost-prohibitive for us to maintain. We don’t have a use for them anymore.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, long-known to have presidential aspirations, falsely claimed Sunday that removing America's ability to surveil Russia makes the U.S. "more secure."
Today, pursuant to earlier notice provided, the United States withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies is now effec… https://t.co/RSdoyZKIOg— Secretary Pompeo (@Secretary Pompeo) 1606054798.0
A year ago experts on Russia warned against exiting the treaty.
Today, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) reportedly responded to the moves by saying: “Trump is attempting to burn down our critical institutions on his way out.”
Carnegie Nuclear Policy Program co-director Toby Dalton went biblical to describe what Trump is doing:
More salting the earth. https://t.co/RJlbMSP3Ez— Toby Dalton (@Toby Dalton) 1606073613.0