U.S. Blamed for Derailing Arms Pact

Article excerpt

UNITED NATIONS - Member states failed to reach agreement Friday on a U.N. treaty to regulate the multibillion-dollar global arms trade, and some diplomats and supporters blamed the United States for triggering the unraveling of the monthlong negotiating conference.

Hopes had been raised that agreement could be reached on a revised treaty text that closed some major loopholes by Friday's deadline for action. But the U.S. announced Friday morning that it needed more time to consider the proposed treaty - and Russia and China then also asked for more time.

"This was stunning cowardice by the Obama administration, which at the last minute did an about-face and scuttled progress toward a global arms treaty, just as it reached the finish line," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "It's a staggering abdication of leadership by the world's largest exporter of conventional weapons to pull the plug on the talks just as they were nearing an historic breakthrough."

A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, also blamed the U.S., saying "they derailed the process," adding that nothing will happen to revive negotiations until after the U.S. presidential election in November.

The chief U.S. negotiator refused to talk to reporters when the meeting broke up.

The draft treaty would require all countries to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and to regulate arms brokers. It would prohibit states that ratify the treaty from transferring conventional weapons if they would violate arms embargoes or if they would promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. …