Senior Policy Director Alexandra Bell spoke with The Nation about the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty.
Alexandra Bell, a former State Department official with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, told me that in her view “this is just another in a series of actions that prove the administration isn’t just interested in dismantling treaties. It is in the business of devaluing alliances and proving that America First is America alone.” Bell expressed incredulity that the administration would be so reckless as to abandon Open Skies, which in her view “provided valuable insight into military force movements from Vancouver to Vladivostok.”
“It defies logic that we would throw it out,” said Bell.
Appearing on Fox News on Thursday evening, national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien claimed that the treaty provided “‘Open skies’ for the Russians to fly over the United States, but ‘closed skies’ for the United States to fly over Russia.” O’Brien contended that the Russians were violating the treaty by surveilling civilian infrastructure.
Yet Bell disputes this. “The treaty doesn’t prohibit what you can take pictures of,” she said. “We are on plane with the Russians and they have to share what they’ve surveilled with us. We also overfly Russia at three-times the rate they overfly us.” The end result is that the United States will lose access to valuable intelligence. Read more