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  • The U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty and Sanctions On Iran

    Earlier this week, the Heritage Foundation published a lengthy study of the U.N.’s proposed Arms Trade Treaty. The study details numerous problems inherent in this proposal, which is now being considered by a New York-based working group. The campaign behind the treaty is based on faulty premises, and the treaty, if brought into being as currently projected, will facilitate, not curb, the illegal arms trade, while at the same time posing a danger to the Second Amendment, to the ability of the U.S. to resist tyranny around the world, and to U.S. export controls.

    In a fine article posted on Real Clear World, Michael Jacobson, a senior fellow in The Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and a former senior advisor in the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, explains part of what is at stake. Contrary to the argument commonly made by the left, the foreign policy of the U.S. is not driven by its export policy. In fact, the U.S. is one of the very few countries that is willing to make a genuine and serious effort to stop trade with dictatorships, such as Iran, to achieve political and moral ends. Or, as Jacobson puts it:

    One of the major problems is that few other countries take this issue as seriously as the United States. Most countries, including some of Iran’s major trading partners, do not devote significant resources to investigating or prosecuting export control violations. In Germany, for example, a public prosecutor has stated that his country has only uncovered “the tip of the iceberg” of the black market activity involving Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, media reports suggest that certain goods leaving Germany are bound for Iran’s defense industrial complex, with little inspection at the border. In addition, many of the designated Iranian shipping vessels are owned by German front companies. Other examples abound: Italy and the United Kingdom have only small investigative staffs handling export control issues, while Canada has prosecuted only a handful of export control cases.

    By contrast, in fiscal 2008, the U.S. prosecuted 145 criminal export control cases, 110 of which concerned Iran. In 2007, the International Economic Powers Enhancement Act increased penalties for violators. This and other Bush-era reforms are paying off: in early 2009, the U.S. imposed a $350 million fine against Lloyds TSB bank for stripping Iran-related information from transactions.

    In early August, President Obama announced his administration was reviewing the U.S. export control system to bring it up to date. As Jacobson points out, the U.S.’s system is not perfect, and this review has the potential to improve it. But the U.S. system is far more effective than most. One of the many failings of the U.N.’s proposed treaty is that it would institutionalize the low export control standards of the rest of the world, which would make the already difficult job of maintaining high standards in the U.S. even harder.

    Another and more insidious failing is that Germany, Italy, Britain, and Canada, as listed by Jacobson, are all leading voices in the campaign for the U.N.’s treaty. Yet even these states – all respectable democracies – do not make a vigilant effort to control export violations relating to Iran, which may pose the single most direct threat to their security. And that is the basic problem with the U.N.’s treaty: most of the world’s states are simply not interested in genuinely controlling the arms trade they are so vocally against. If they were, they would put a lot more muscle into their domestic export controls, and waste less energy passing resolutions at the U.N., which yield nothing but impressive but useless headlines.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to The U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty and Sanctions On Iran

    1. Linda Carlsbad, CA says:

      Does this administration ever do anything to protect the United States and its Citizens? The answer is NO. They aren't bothered with anything that in any way would help us, only what will destroy us!

    2. dennis florida says:

      if obama administration is reviewing the u.s. control system and bringing it up to date, then he is changing it for the worst. everything he touches, turns to (you know what).

    3. John Duncan Geneva says:

      It is a pity that Messrs Bromund and Jacobson are still trotting our these tired old arguments. The Arms Trade Treaty is about getting other countries to improve their controls over their arms exports. And making it a legally binding obligation to do so.

      The ATT is nothing whatsoever to do with civilian possession of arms and this has been made clear publicly several times.

      It really is a very facile argument to say that some countries (why not include Burma and the DPRK) won't sign up. We don't generally try to organize the world on the basis of how those countries behave.

      Currently our failure to strengthen the the regulation of the international arms trade has led to a situation where our men and women on the frontline face daily ever better armed insurgents.

      So what is the plausible alternative that these two gentleman propose – that we simply rely on urging everyone to behave a bit more responsibly. I think our armed forces deserve a little bit more support than that.

      For a fuller argumentation see http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/fco-in-action/counter-te

      John Duncan UK Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control

    4. Patricia, MI says:

      When will we Americans wake up and realize that the very foundations our country was built upon is being totally destroyed by this administration. I do not apologize for living in a free country or for desiring a president and administration that will protect me and my family. I do not apologize for being an American. Of that I am very proud. It is time we all stand together on the foundations our founding fathers gave to us and not give in to this idiocy that is going on. God bless this wonderful nation.

    5. Bobbie Jay says:

      The reason America takes this seriously with investigative measures is because America has the most to lose. Now that we have the great leadership of Obama, won't think twice to use this opportunity to further his carelessness to the security of the citizens to promote his sinister agenda.

    6. dennis florida says:

      everything this guy does, is to tear down our american freedom as we know it. our economy, our security, our free speach rights, ……….everything. that tells me that he is anti-american, and that bugs me. his whole administration is anti-american.

    7. DV, MO says:

      I finally found a draft of the ATT online; you can view it here: http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/political/1co

      I found nothing about the control of individual or civillian possesion of arms. Can someone point it out to me?

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