Iran, North Korea, Syria block UN arms trade treaty

Iran, North Korea, Syria block UN arms trade treaty

Iran, North Korea, Syria block UN arms trade treaty North Korea, Iran and Syria prevented the adoption of the first international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global conventional arms trade March 29, complaining that it was flawed and failed to ban weapons sales to rebel groups.

A coalition of countries from around the world said they would now take the treaty straight to the 193-member U.N. General Assembly next week for approval. It can be passed with a two-thirds majority, which is virtually assured.

The move by Iran, North Korea and Syria, all facing sanctions or international reprimands for their weapons programs or trading, caused widespread anger at the conference. “A good, strong treaty has been blocked,” said Britain’s chief delegate, Joanne Adamson. The head of the U.S. delegation, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman, told a group of reporters, “We look forward to this treaty being adopted very soon by the United Nations General Assembly.” The Amnesty International rights group called the blocking move “deeply cynical,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Many legal flaws: Iran

Iranian U.N. Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee told the conference that he could not accept the treaty in its current form. “The achievement of such a treaty has been rendered out of reach due to many legal flaws and loopholes,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

One of those flaws was its failure to ban sales of weapons to groups that commit “acts of aggression,” ostensibly referring to rebel groups, he said. Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari echoed the Iranian concerns, saying he also objected to the fact that it does not prohibit weapons transfers to rebel groups. North Korea’s delegate voiced similar complaints, suggesting it was a discriminatory treaty. Iran is eager to ensure its arms imports and exports are not curtailed, diplomats said. Syria is in a two-year-old civil war and hopes Russian and Iranian arms keep flowing in, they added. North Korea is also under a U.N. arms embargo due to its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

What is the Arms Treaty?

The first major arms accord since the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would cover tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, as well as small arms and light arms. It would aim to force countries to set
up national controls on arms exports. They would also have to assess whether a weapon could be used for genocide war crimes or by militants or organized crime gangs before it is sold.