Recently, the United States of America (USA) has announced that it will exit the Open Skies Treaty (OST). What is this treaty all about. Bring out strategic dimensions of USA’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty.
Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 and came into effect in 2002.
It is an agreement that allows its 34 signatories countries to monitor arm development by conducting surveillance flights (unarmed) over each other’s territories.
Therefore, the treaty established an aerial surveillance system for its participants.
Both US and Russia are signatories of the treaty. India is not a member of this treaty.
Recently, the United States of America (USA) has announced that it will exit the Open Skies Treaty (OST) due to continuous violation of the treaty by Russia and changes in the security environment.
The USA has blamed Russia for restricting US flyovers in neighbour Georgia and its military enclave in Kaliningrad (Russia).
Russia misused its flights over the US and Europe to identify critical infrastructure for potential attack in a time of war.
Russia has denied the allegations and warned that the withdrawal will affect the interests of all of 35 participating countries.
However, Russia intended to fully follow all the rights and obligations under the treaty as long as the treaty is in force.
This move by the USA has further deepened doubts on extension of the New START treaty, which expires in February, 2021.
The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) is a treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms. It entered into force on 5th February, 2011.
It is a successor to the START framework of 1991 (at the end of the Cold War) that limited both sides to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
The USA has been worried that extending New Start would negatively impact an arms deal with China and Russia.
It is concerned that China’s nuclear stockpile could be doubled if the New Start Treaty continued as is, without including China.