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26 Apr, 2019 23:15

What is ATT, the arms treaty Trump just withdrew the US from?

What is ATT, the arms treaty Trump just withdrew the US from?

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) joins the long list of UN pacts and bodies that President Donald Trump has pulled out of. The yet-unratified treaty would have required gun control measures Trump says threaten the Second Amendment.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in Indiana on Friday, Trump announced he was withdrawing the ATT from the Senate ratification process, effectively killing it despite the 2013 signature by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Trump called the treaty “badly misguided” and a threat to American freedoms – such as the “right to keep and bear arms” enshrined in the Second Amendment to the Constitution – as well as a surrender of American sovereignty to “foreign bureaucrats.” RT takes a look at the ATT to see if that’s so.

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The ATT was endorsed by the UN General Assembly in April 2013, and entered into force on December 23, 2014. It was joined by 101 countries, and is in effect in 100 of them. Another 29 countries signed the treaty but have not ratified it yet.

According to the Arms Control Association, the ATT aims to “reduce human suffering caused by illegal and irresponsible arms transfers, improve regional security and stability,” and “promote accountability and transparency” in sales of conventional arms by governments. The treaty “does not impact a state’s domestic gun control laws or other firearm ownership policies,” says the association.

However, the ATT requires member nations to “establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list” and “designate competent national authorities” to regulate the sale of conventional weapons.

Once ratified, international treaties become binding US law and supersede the Constitution, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT. It is possible the ATT could have been used to attack the Second Amendment – but with Trump canceling it, that becomes a moot point.

The treaty applies not just to military hardware like tanks and other armored vehicles, artillery, combat airplanes and helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, but also “small arms and light weapons.”

The ATT also requires signatories to “establish and maintain a national control system to regulate the export of ammunition/munitions fired, launched or delivered by” the weapons listed above, as well as “parts and components…that provide the capability to assemble” them.

“I have never seen a report that says this treaty has been effective in any way, shape or form,” Maloof told RT.

Even if none of these provisions had potentially problematic implications for the internal US trade in arms and ammunition, abiding by the treaty would have put a crimp into the weapons business – and US arms manufacturers dominate that industry globally in terms of sheer volume.

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According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks global weapons sales, the US arms industry accounted for 57 percent of the total Top 100 arms sales in 2017. While Russia is ranked second, its entire output ($37.7 billion) lagged behind just one US company, Lockheed Martin ($44.9 billion).

The ATT also called for heightened scrutiny of arms sales in cases where they “could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian or human rights law, acts of terrorism, or transnational organized crime” as well as “commit or facilitate serious acts of gender-based violence or violence against women and children.”

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