Magazine article Arms Control Today

U.S. Signs Arms Trade Treaty

Magazine article Arms Control Today

U.S. Signs Arms Trade Treaty

Article excerpt

The United States and 17 other countries signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on Sept. 25, pushing the number of signatories to the pact, which was opened for signature June 3, to 107.

Calling it a significant step toward controlling the illicit trade in conventional weapons, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the treaty on behalf of the United States, the world's largest arms exporter, in a ceremony at the United Nations. "This is about keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists and rogue actors," Kerry said.

"It's significant that the United States, which [accounts] for about 80 percent of the world's export in arms, has signed," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told a news conference. In 2012, states engaged in arms transfers totaling more than $85 billion, not including black market transfers, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The ATT breaks new ground by establishing common international standards that must be met before states may authorize transfers of conventional weapons or may export ammunition and weapons parts and components. The pact also prohibits transfers that would lead to war crimes and attacks on civilians and requires states to report annually on all authorized arms exports.

The result of seven years of negotiations, the treaty was approved by the 193-member UN General Assembly on April 2 by a vote of 154-3, with 23 abstentions. The three votes against the treaty came from Iran, North Korea, and Syria, while major arms traders China, India, and Russia were among the abstentions. …

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