Iran, North Korea, Syria block U.N. arms trade treaty

by Louis Charbonneau, Reuters.com  |  published on March 30, 2013

The United Nations logo is displayed on a door at U.N. headquarters in New York

Iran, Syria and North Korea on Friday prevented the adoption of the first international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global conventional arms trade, complaining that it was flawed and failed to ban weapons sales to rebel groups.

To get around the blockade, British U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant sent the draft treaty to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and asked him on behalf of Mexico, Australia and a number of others to put it to a swift vote in the General Assembly.

U.N. diplomats said the 193-nation General Assembly could put the draft treaty to a vote as early as Tuesday.

“A good, strong treaty has been blocked,” said Britain’s chief delegate, Joanne Adamson. “Most people in the world want regulation and those are the voices that need to be heard.”

“This is success deferred,” she added.

The head of the U.S. delegation, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman, told a group of reporters, “We look forward to this treaty being adopted very soon by the United Nations General Assembly.” He declined to predict the result of a vote but said it would be a “substantial majority” in favor.

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