Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement about President Trump’s planned withdrawal of the United States from the Open Skies Treaty:

“The President’s reckless plan to withdraw the United States from another arms control agreement directly harms our country’s security and breaks the law in the process. The Treaty on Open Skies has been a pillar of stability, transparency, and security for the United States and our European allies. The surveillance flights conducted under the Treaty are critical to augmenting the New START Treaty and other arms control measures, as well as shaping how Russia conducts flights over NATO and American bases—something they will do with or without our participation in Open Skies.  It helps hold Russia accountable and aids our Ukrainian friends in pushing back against Russian aggression within their borders. Yet this President is once again walking away from our commitments to allies and partners and undermining American security with little to show for it. 

“This President has had many months and ample opportunity to follow the law by consulting with Congress and our allies but, unsurprisingly, President Trump and his appointees have again shown their disdain for arms control, lack of respect for Congress and its Constitutional authority, and disregard for the rule of law. There is something particularly dangerous about a President, a Secretary of State, and a Secretary of Defense knowingly breaking the law in ways that jeopardize our safety and national security. With this decision, that is exactly what they’ve chosen to do. 

“The President should be focused on combating the coronavirus, not dragging America toward a costly and potentially devastating nuclear arms race.”


Section 1234 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which became public law No. 116-92 on December 20, 2019, states that, at least 120 days before submitting the intent to withdraw the United States from the Open Skies Treaty to one of the two Treaty depositories, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense must submit a notification to Congress that: (1) withdrawal from the Treaty is in the national security interest of the United States and (2) that other state parties to the Treaty have been consulted. If, as has been reported, the Administration submits its intent to withdraw to the Treaty depository, it will have violated this law. No such notification has been submitted to Congress as of May 21, 2020.

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