The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to create the first international treaty regulating the global arms trade, a landmark decision that imposes new constraints on the sale of conventional arms to governments and armed groups that commit war crimes, genocide and other mass atrocities.
The U.N. vote was hailed by arms control advocates and scores of governments, including the United States, as a major step in the international effort to enforce basic controls on the $70 billion international arms trade. But it was denounced by Iran, North Korea and Syria, for imposing new restrictions that prevent smaller states from buying and selling weapons to ensure their self-defense.
The treaty covers a wide range of conventional weapons, including battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, missiles and small arms. These items could not be transferred to countries under U.N. arms embargoes or states that promote genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.
The United States, which co-sponsored the treaty, said several U.S. agencies will conduct a review before the accord is presented to President Obama for signature. The treaty would require ratification by the Senate.