Trump eases controls on exports of lethal drones to US allies
Iran Press TV
Saturday, 25 July 2020 12:13 AM
US President Donald Trump has moved to make it easier to export some types of American-made lethal drones to Washington's allies, saying that the allies need US technology and that other countries outside of a non-proliferation pact were taking over the market.
Trump had approved a move to diverge from the 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), in which 35 countries agreed to restrict the sales of unmanned arms delivery systems, the White House announced in Friday.
The MTCR is an international agreement that sets rules for export of missiles and related weaponry.
US drone producers, facing increasing competition from abroad, especially from Chinese and Israeli rivals who often sell under lighter restrictions, have lobbied hard for the rule changes.
The new measures are part of Trump's so-called "America First" policy, which seeks to rewrite the rules of global commerce in favor of the US and reduce the country's trade deficit.
The MTCR was designed to control the spread of missiles that could deliver large payload like nuclear weapons. But the treaty also covered armed drones.
Trump's new order will reclassify armed drones from technology whose export is severely restricted to a category that can be considered on a case-by-case basis, according to AFP.
The change will allow sales of the Reaper and Predator drones used by the US military, as well as others made by US military manufacturers.
"The MTCR's standards are more than three decades old," the White House said in a statement.
"Not only do these outdated standards give an unfair advantage to countries outside of the MTCR and hurt United States industry, they also hinder our deterrence capability abroad by handicapping our partners and allies with subpar technology."
Human rights and arms control advocates have warned that the new US measures risks fueling violence and instability in regions such as the Middle East and South Asia.
They have criticized Trump's order and said the US sale of advanced drones to more countries could fuel the global arms race.
"The Trump administration has once again weakened international export controls on the export of lethal drones," said Senator Bob Menendez in a statement.
"This reckless decision makes it more likely that we will export some of our most deadly weaponry to human rights abusers across the world," he said.
The move marks a major step toward overcoming a long-standing US taboo against selling armed drones to countries other than a handful of Washington's most trusted allies. The only sales of armed US drones in recent years have been to Britain and Italy.
A list of potential buyers being given fast-track treatment is expected to expand to include more NATO members, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Arab counties, as well as treaty allies such as Japan and South Korea, the people familiar with the plan said.
Also likely to be in the favored group would be key partners such as India, Singapore and Australia as well as many of the 35 signatories to the MTCR.
US drone manufacturers are seeking to gain a larger share of the global military drone market, which has forecast will rise from $2.8 billion in sales in 2016 to $9.4 billion in 2025.US drone manufacturers are seeking to gain a larger share of the global military drone market, which has forecast will rise from $2.8 billion in sales in 2016 to $9.4 billion in 2025.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of US drone strikes around the world since Trump took office, according to a report published in December by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
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