Russia Warns It May Not Sign Landmark UN Arms Treaty
- The Moscow Times
- Apr. 04 2013 00:00
- Last edited 08:50
Russia's UN envoy has warned that Moscow might not sign theáfirst treaty onáthe global arms trade after it was overwhelmingly approved byáthe UN General Assembly.
Russia, theáworld's second-largest arms supplier with anáestimated $8 billion inásales last year, abstained ináTuesday's vote.
Theáfinal vote tally foráthe treaty meant toáregulate theá$70 billion business ináconventional arms andákeep weapons out ofáthe hands ofáhuman rights abusers was 154 ináfavor, three against andá23 abstained.
Russia's ambassador toáthe United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, complained that theádraft treaty lacked aáclause banning theásupply ofáweapons toánon-state entities.
"Despite persistent appeals fromámany states, it still does not contain aában onáarms supplies toáunauthorized non-state entities," Churkin told reporters. "This is aáconsiderable systematic flaw that will unavoidably affect theáeffectiveness ofáthe implementation ofáthe Arms Trade Treaty.
He said Moscow would take aáhard look atáthe treaty before deciding whether toásign it.
China, theáworld's third-largest arms supplier with $1.8 billion inásales, according toáthe Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, also abstained Tuesday.
The world's No. 1 arms supplier, theáUnited States, voted ináfavor despite fierce opposition fromáthe National Rifle Association, aápowerful U.S. pro-gun lobbying group.
U.S. Secretary ofáState John Kerry said ináa statement that theáUN adopted the "strong, effective andáimplementable Arms Trade Treaty that can strengthen global security while protecting theásovereign right ofástates toáconduct legitimate arms trade."
But it was unclear whether theáU.S., whose arms sales totaled $8.8 billion last year, would be able toáwin congressional approval toájoin theátreaty.
Several UN delegates said theátreaty's effectiveness would be limited if major arms exporters refuse toásign it.
TheáIranian, Syrian andáNorth Korean delegations cast theásole votes against theátreaty.
Iran, which is under aáUN arms embargo over its nuclear program, is eager toáensure that its arms imports andáexports are not curtailed, while Syria's government is embroiled ináa two-year civil war andárelies onáarms fromáRussia andáIran, envoys said.
North Korea is also under aáUN arms embargo due toáits nuclear weapons andámissile programs.
Echoing Churkin, Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said his government opposed theáArms Trade Treaty because it does not ban theásale ofáweapons toánon-state actors. He, however, was referring specifically toáwhat his government describes as "terrorists" active ináSyria.
Theátreaty does not ban transfers toáarmed groups but says all arms transfers should be subjected toárigorous risk andáhuman rights assessments first.
Theátreaty will be open forásignature onáJune 3 andáwill enter intoáforce 90 days after theá50th signatory ratifies it. Mexican UN Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba told reporters that it normally takes two toáthree years foráa treaty toácome intoáforce, but said he hoped it would happen sooner ináthis case.
Material fromáReuters is included ináthis report.