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Expert Alert: Open Skies Treaty Dismissal Endangers US and its Allies

Dr Adriana Sinclair researches the intersection of international relations and international law, in the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies.

Dr Sinclair said: “President Trump's decision to pull out of a third major arms control accord is a reflection of his dislike of rule-governed systems in general and a rule-governed international system in particular.

“What he fails to see are the benefits of such regimes: removing the restrictions from the US also means removing the restrictions from America's enemies.

“Treaties provide transparency, limitation of arsenals, and monitoring, including on-site inspections. They are binding international agreements with verification regimes.

“Trust and communication between the US and Russia has all but ceased, although some of the friction – including NATO’s expansion and the US withdrawal from the 2002 ABM treaty, the origins of US-Russian animosity – pre-dates Trump quite substantially.

“But while Russia sees America's actions here as aggressive, America too feels threatened. The Russian invasion of Georgia ​in 2008, the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines plane from Ukraine and the wider Ukraine crisis, as well as interference in 2016 US presidential election, ​have all been seen as evidence of a newly aggressive Russia.

“In addition, polarization in Congress means that there is no domestic consensus so it is hard to get anything done.

“Furthermore, fissures within NATO – mainly Trump’s insistence that the European states should contribute more – and US commitment has become unreliable. This also extends to other states that are under the US nuclear umbrella: Japan, S​outh Korea and Australia.

“Finally, new advanced weaponry: hypersonic weapons but also growth in different types of tactical nuclear weapons. New technologies of cyber attacks and misinformation make it harder to properly ascertain states’ intentions.

“This is why the Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than it's ever been.”

Study Politics, Philosophy, Language & Communication at UEA