WASHINGTON, August 15. /TASS/. The United States set to keep implementing the multilateral Open Skies Treaty, a US Department of State official told TASS on Tuesday, commenting on Russian media reports about the alleged suspension of the agreement.
"The United States is not suspending its participation in the Open Skies Treaty," the official said. "To the contrary, the United States remains committed to continued implementation of Treaty, as demonstrated by the authorization for the recapitalization of our Open Skies aircraft and our ongoing efforts to modernize our fleet."
"The FY 19 NDAA that the President signed into law yesterday requires the executive branch to fulfill certain reporting and certification requirements prior to the expenditure of some funding related to U.S. Open Skies implementation. Previous NDAAs contained similar requirements," the official continued. "The United States remains committed to continued implementation of the Treaty."
The Russian Foreign Ministry believes that the OST, largely a product of Moscow’s efforts, is a major confidence and security building measure. Alongside the treaty on conventional forces in Europe (CFE) and the Vienna Document of 1969 the OST coming into effect finalized the creation of a confidence-building and transparency system in the field of conventional weapons in the Euro-Atlantic space. The OST was signed in Helsinki on March 24, 1992.
Its purposes are promotion of openness and transparency in military activity matters, as well as enhancement of security through confidence and stability building measures on the basis of cooperation in open sky policies. The OSCC, established under the treaty, adopts mandatory decisions by consensus.
The treaty, which currently has 34 member states, establishes a program of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. Observation flights are made over the territories of the United States, Canada, European countries, and Russia. The main purposes of the open skies regime are to develop transparency, render assistance in monitoring compliance with the existing or future arms control agreements, broaden possibilities for preventing crises and managing crisis situations within the scope of the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other relevant international organizations. Subsequently, it is contemplated to apply the open skies regime to new fields, such as environmental protection.
In practical terms, the treaty allows signatory states to perform observations flights over any part of the observed state party’s territory to monitor military activities in conformity with the agreed quotas of such missions. The treaty regulates observation flights procedures, establishes a mechanism of control over its observance, sets requirements to the aircraft and observation equipment.