The End of the Arms Trade Treaty Conference Is Not the End of the Treaty

Ted Bromund /

Frank Chmura Stock Connection Worldwide/Newscom

Late on Thursday, the U.N. conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) fell apart when Iran, North Korea, and Syria opposed the treaty.

This was a surprise to virtually all the conference observers. By mid-day Friday, almost everyone thought the treaty would get done that day, if only because the delegates were too tired of the process to do anything else. Sure, there were rumors of trouble with Iran and North Korea, but when Iran’s PressTV reported that Tehran was on board with the treaty, it was hard to take the rumors seriously.

The first lesson is that as long as Iran’s regime is talking, they’re lying. The second lesson is that the North Koreans just don’t care what anyone thinks about them, which is a useful point to remember when anyone suggests that we might be able to talk them into behaving like civilized people. But apart from that, here are my takeaways from the end of this stage of the process:

The end of the conference leaves failed to answer one nagging question. Many nations say, loudly and often, that they want tight controls on their arms imports and exports. So why haven’t they gone ahead and adopted them already? They have the unquestioned right to do so. And yet, curiously, they’ve not done it. That leads me to think that it wasn’t just the Arabs and the other dictators who aren’t really all that interested in importing and exporting arms responsibly.


*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this blog referenced Friday and has been changed to Thursday.