Kerry to sign NRA-opposed Arms Trade Treaty, diplomats say

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a luncheon in New York September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at a luncheon in New York September 23, 2013. Credit: Reuters

Secretary of State John Kerry, in a move that puts the Obama administration at odds with the powerful pro-gun lobby, will sign the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty regulating the $70 billion international conventional arms business, diplomats said on Tuesday.

A senior State Department official said President Barack Obama’s administration would notify the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and Kerry would sign the treaty on Wednesday on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Obama gave a speech to the assembly on Tuesday that focused on Syria, Iran and other Middle East hot spots.

The arms treaty, which requires ratification by the Senate and has been attacked by America’s pro-gun National Rifle Association, would help Western countries push for the curtailment of Russian arms sales to Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s government has been accused of widespread abuses in more than two years of civil war.

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kerry’s decision “a milestone towards ending the flow of conventional arms that fuel atrocities and abuse.”

The United States and 86 other signatory nations “must implement the treaty and bring to an end the supply of weapons to countries where they would be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes or other serious human rights violations,” Shetty said in a statement.

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, whose country has been repeatedly attacked by a cross-border Islamic jihadist militant group called Boko Haram, told the United Nations such rebellions are “sustained by unfettered access by non-state actors to illicit smart arms and light weapons.”

“For us in Africa these are the weapons of mass destruction,” he said.

The U.N. General Assembly adopted the treaty on April 2 by a vote of 154 for, including the United States, three against, and 23 abstentions. The no votes were cast by Iran, North Korea and Syria, U.N. records showed.

WAY TO PRESSURE RUSSIA ON SYRIA

The NRA, which has opposed the treaty from the start, called the April vote a sad day for the United States, the world’s No. 1 arms exporter.

Among the NRA’s arguments against the treaty are that it undermines American sovereignty and disregards the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to bear arms.

The senior State Department official rejected the NRA’s characterization of the treaty, saying the pact’s target is “illicit trade in conventional weapons that benefits terrorists and rogue agents.”

“The treaty recognizes and protects the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes,” said the official.

“It merely helps other countries create and enforce the kind of strict national export controls the United States has had in place for decades, which haven’t diminished one iota the ability of Americans to enjoy their rights under our Constitution.”

The U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs has said the treaty would not “interfere with the domestic arms trade and the way a country regulates civilian possession.”

“It will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms. And it will help keep warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools,” the U.N. office said on its website.

Frank Januzzi, deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA, called the move “a very significant win for 20 years of human rights activism” by his organization and by Oxfam International, a confederation of groups focused on poverty and injustice.

Januzzi said the treaty could be applied to the conflict in Syria, making arm sales to the government illegal under international law. Russia, Syria’s main arms supplier, and China abstained in the April U.N. vote and have not signed the pact.

“This will increase the pressure on Russia to sign. It will increase the pressure on China as well,” he said in a telephone interview.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.