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New arms trade treaty: playing with fire
by Nikita Sorokin
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Nov 28, 2012


File image.

The conflict in Syria and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have quite a few features in common. One of them, which is also typical for other similar conflicts, is that the opposition in Syria and Palestinian terrorists use arms which they illegally receive from abroad.

The situation may be changed if an international agreement is adopted, which would envision tough control over selling and purchasing weapons. A draft of such an agreement already exists, but some countries, including Russia, are against signing this document in its present form.

The conflict in Syria and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have quite a few features in common. One of them, which is also typical for other similar conflicts, is that the opposition in Syria and Palestinian terrorists use arms which they illegally receive from abroad.

The situation may be changed if an international agreement is adopted, which would envision tough control over selling and purchasing weapons. A draft of such an agreement already exists, but some countries, including Russia, are against signing this document in its present form.

Other countries - mainly, Western ones - are accusing Russia of hampering the signing of an important treaty which, as they claim, would have helped to solve the problem of local conflicts. Now, what is behind Russia's refusal to sign the document in its present form?

The draft treaty was worked out by a commission that worked under the UN's auspices in New York in June. Besides Russia, it was not backed by the US and China.

To a certain extent, this may be explained by the fact that these three countries are the world's largest producers and exporters of weapons. But Russia has other reasons not to back this draft treaty as well, which we'll mention later.

On November 7, participants of a UN meeting voted in favor of holding another conference to discuss this draft treaty in March 2013. Russia and several other countries abstained from voting, which caused sharp criticism from a number of other countries.

Many European media sources are now calling Russia's position the main obstacle against signing the document that might have been a landmark in the world's struggle against the threat of terrorism.

By the way, the US voted for holding the new conference on this treaty, but the US is against the mechanism of adopting the treaty which the UN has suggested.

France and the UK are insisting that the treaty should be adopted by two thirds of the votes, but the US says that it will take part in the conference only if all participants consent.

The draft treaty envisions a ban on selling weapons to regimes that use force against their own citizens. However, Russia believes that if the treaty is adopted in its current formulation, it will not create any real mechanisms to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons.

Russia insists that the treaty should introduce very strict limits concerning who may sell and who may buy weapons.

In an interview with the Voice of Russia, Russian military observer Igor Korotchenko said:

"Russia primarily wants the Treaty to allow weapons supplies by authorized state agencies only. This condition is unacceptable for a number of Western companies."

The West eyes using the Arms Treaty to put pressure on unwanted regimes. Backing the Syrian rebels, the EU plans to leave Assad's regime with no options to buy weapons claiming that the government troops use it to kill civilians. Such limitations contradict international law and shatter the weapons trade basics which took years to be formed.

The EU already has the Code of Conduct on Arms Exports and it applied the document to ban weapon supplies to China, Iran, Syria, Myanmar, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Belarus - all of them are Russia's military and tech partners.

Russia, on its part, has a multi-phase arms export control, both when shipping weapons and after their delivery. It also sticks to international bans on weapon supplies. As Russia's weapon-making industry is state-run there are no loopholes for arms dealers.

Thus, all speculations about Russia posing a threat to a new Arms Trade Treaty are nothing but weapon barons attempting to manipulate public opinion.

Source: Voice of Russia

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