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Russia says no to global arms treaty in present form
September 27, 2013, 8:41 am


The ATT is the first international treaty seeking to regulate the $70 billion global trade in conventional weapons [AP]

Russia will not join the international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in its present form, says Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

“Our decision on whether to join the treaty hasn’t been made yet, it will be made later taking into account a multitude of factors, including the ratification timing of other countries that sign it,” said Ryabkov at the Expert Dialogue forum of the Russia Arms Expo 2013 in Nizhny Tagil.

Russia claims the treaty has many defects that could potentially lead to the illegal transfer of weapons “to certain subjects,” while it will not have any effect on existing conflicts such as in Syria, where over 100,000 people have died in the past two years.

Moscow’s suggestions to amend the final treaty have not been included into the final text.

“Meanwhile, we had proposed to make amendments to the treaty to bring it into compliance with international law and the treaty, ratified by the United Nations. However, neither the EU nor NATO want to hear us so far,” Ryabkov said.

“The international Arms Trade Treaty doesn’t meet the highest international standards that are supposed to be established,” he added.

Dmitry Babich, a political commentator with The Voice of Russia says the ATT will not in any way sanction the alleged “illegal” arms supplies made by Saudi Arabia and Western countries to the armed insurgents in Syria, while at the same time it may be used to “punish” Russia and Iran for standing with the government of Syria.

“The treaty, once drafted by the former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, himself heavily implicated in the entirely illegal invasion of Iraq, pays only formal tribute to the principle of state sovereignty and non-interference of other states into a country’s internal affairs (something we see now happening in Syria),” Babich told The BRICS Post.

“At the same time, the treaty has some tough requirements on the quite legal international arms trade. Russia would like to see tougher restrictions on re-export of arms, so that arms supplied by the US to, say, Qatar would not be sold to the Syrian rebels. In that sphere, the treaty is very vague,” Babich added.

Experts say the treaty does not envision concrete sanctions for countries that breach its requirements.

“This leads a lot of room for “broad interpretation,” and the broad interpretation is usually applied by the strong ones – namely, the NATO countries and their allies. The most recent example is Syria, where they openly breached the UN Resolution’s requirement not to supply weapons to the parties of an internal conflict,” notes Babich.

The ATT was adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on April 2, with 154 countries supporting the treaty, Iran, North Korea and Syria voting against, and 23 countries abstaining from the vote, including Russia, India and China.

The head of the Russian delegation that abstained from the UNGA vote, Mikhail Ulyanov said the ATT “declares good targets but is rather shallow in essence.”

“It contains many slogans, but lacks specificity. Its objectives are laid down only in general terms, and the treaty does not clarify how they should be put into practice” Ulyanov said in an interview with Kommersant Daily.

India, the leading purchaser of Russian arms, said it wanted a fair balance of responsibilities on exporting and importing states.

“India cannot accept that the Treaty be used as an instrument in the hands of exporting states to take unilateral force majeure measures against importing states parties without consequences,” said Sujata Mehta, India’s Permanent Representative to the Geneva Conference of Disarmament.

The ATT is the first international treaty seeking to regulate the $70 billion global trade in conventional weapons.

It establishes tighter control in cross-border arms deals and seeks to reduce the 750,000 annual deaths caused by arms-related incidents.

The international Arms Trade Treaty has recently been signed by the US Secretary of State John Kerry, making the United States the 91st country to join the treaty.

Daria Chernyshova in Moscow for The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies