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     Feb 14, '14

US pledges restraint in arms bazaar
By William Hartung

WASHINGTON - The United States is the world's leading arms trafficking nation, with US$60 billion in arms transfer agreements last year alone. In 2011, US companies and the US government controlled over three-quarters of the international weapons trade.

The Barack Obama administration regularly touts the role of US

officials in promoting US arms sales. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tom Kelly underscored this point in April 2013 testimony to Congress.

Whether arming the Shah of Iran in the 1970s or transferring of weaponry to Afghan extremist groups fighting against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, the US government has paid too little attention to where US arms end up.

"It is an issue that has the attention of every top-level official who's working on foreign policy throughout the government, including the top officials at the State Department ... in advocating on behalf of our companies and doing everything we can to make sure that these sales go through ... we take it very, very seriously and weÕre constantly thinking of how we can do better."

But according to administration officials, promotion is only one side of its approach to arms transfers. On January 15, the Obama administration issued the first official policy directive on conventional arms sales since the mid-1990s. The document, Presidential Policy Directive 27, carries on the administrationÕs explicit commitment to promoting arms sales, but it also includes a pledge to show restraint. More ...

(Inter Press Service)




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