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26 Apr, 2019 23:46

'Blatant pandering' to gun lobby: Dem chair announces hearing over Trump's UN Arms Trade Treaty exit

'Blatant pandering' to gun lobby: Dem chair announces hearing over Trump's UN Arms Trade Treaty exit

The Democratic chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs has blasted President Donald Trump's decision to pull the US out of the UN treaty regulating the flow of arms, arguing that it would endanger people around the world.

Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) has railed against Trump's decision to stop the ratification of the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which he vowed to "dispose of" as soon as the Senate returns the "badly misguided" agreement to his office. Trump made the announcement at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Indianapolis, eliciting loud cheers from the crowd.

Also on rt.com Trump announces US withdrawing from UN Arms Trade Treaty

"I hope you're happy," The US president said as he signed the order on stage.

Trump touted his decision as a "historic step" to protect Second Amendment rights, arguing that the treaty would have chipped away at the US' liberal gun laws.

Engel argued that the very public withdrawal from the UN accord is a nod to Trump's steadfast ally and one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in Washington, the NRA. The congressman accused Trump of sacrificing people's security to please the gun lobby.

"It is abhorrent to use international diplomacy for blatant political pandering. It's even more appalling when that policy decision concerns dangerous weapons that endanger the lives of Americans and people around the world," Engel said in a statement, announcing that the committee would call a hearing "to shine a bright light on this shameful decision."

The US signing the ATT never actually stopped American weapons from endangering lives around the world – it has been sitting unratified by the Senate since 2013, due to staunch opposition from Republican lawmakers. The accord's primary goal is to regulate the international weapons trade, but its opponents in the US argue that it might curb Americans' right to bear arms at home, because it urges its signatories to "establish and maintain a national control system."

The US has been the largest weapons exporter in the world, accounting for some 36 percent of global arms sales. US manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman have been ranked among the world's top five defense corporations by sales in a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Also on rt.com What is ATT, the arms treaty Trump just withdrew the US from?

While Washington prides itself on its strict arms transfer regulations, the US war machine has been blamed for fueling hostilities around the world, particularly in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition of Arab states has been carrying out a brutal bombing campaign since mid-2015.

Saudi Arabia is the main destination for American arms deliveries. In 2018, it received some $3.35 billion worth of arms imports from the US, which makes up 88 percent of the oil-rich kingdom's total weapons deals, according to data from SIPRI. All in all, the US has been the leading arms supplier to 20 of the world's 40 largest arms importers, funneling its weapons to almost 100 nations.

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