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Menendez Statement on Trump Administration’s Withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty

NEWARK –  U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after the Trump administration officially withdrew the United States from the Open Skies Treaty, a key part of America’s international arms control strategy: 

“As I have stated previously, the administration’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty is reckless and leaves the United States and our allies less secure against Russia. For nearly twenty years, the Treaty, which the Senate approved unanimously, has provided the United States and our allies important insights into Russia’s military. The administration’s decision to abandon the Treaty fits into a broader pattern of discarding arms control and non-proliferation agreements, raising deep concerns among our allies about our commitment to their security. Additionally, a U.S. withdrawal will not stop Russia from being able to overfly U.S. assets in Europe, and equally importantly, will not allow the U.S. to see the data gathered by Russia. 

“I strongly believe that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Treaty is a violation of domestic law. In the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress reaffirmed its support for the Open Skies Treaty and specifically mandated the administration justify a withdrawal four months before any formal notification of withdrawal took place. President Trump brazenly ignored the law and is unilaterally imposing a politically-charged withdrawal, even after losing a presidential election.” 

“I urge the incoming Biden administration to rejoin the Treaty in a manner consistent with our constitutional structure, and I expect the new administration to consult early and often with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on this and other treaty matters.”