Barely two months to the expiration of his tenure, President Donald Trump has formally pulled United States out of the Treaty on Open Skies.
The withdrawal is sequel to the elapsing of six months since the U.S announced its planned withdrawal from the multinational surveillance treaty.
“Six months having elapsed, the US withdrawal took effect on 22 November 2020, and the United States is no longer a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies,” the US Department of State said in a statement.
The Treaty on Open Skies allows countries to carry out unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s territory.
The flights began in 2002 in an effort to build trust between the treaty’s 34 signatories.
Since then, more than 1,500 unarmed flights under the agreement have enabled nations to gather security data from military exercises and arms activity.
However, the US has accused Russia of abusing it and on 22 May the Trump administration notified the Treaty Depositaries of their decision to withdraw from Open Skies.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on Sunday, saying the US is now “more secure” thanks to the nation’s withdrawal from the treaty.
He wrote: “Today, pursuant to earlier notice provided, the United States withdrawal from the Treaty on Open Skies is now effective.
“America is more secure because of it, as Russia remains in non-compliance with its obligations.”
However, many have raised concerns about the United States’ decision since May.