The draft of a UN arms treaty that would regulate the multi-billion-dollar global arms trade will not harm India's national interests, the US on Friday said, allaying New Delhi's concern over its text.
"While I appreciate the concerns that has been expressed very clearly by India's representative here, my own view is that this treaty will not be harmful to India's security and certainly not in any way harm the very strong bilateral relationship between India and the US," said Tom Countryman, head of the US delegation to the Arms Trade Treaty Conference.
Countryman was responding to questions on the concerns raised by India on the draft text of the treaty, which could not be adopted by the conference in the absence of consensus among its 193 nations; which was considered to be the first step towards regulating the $70 billion global arms trade.
Iran, Syria and North Korea opposed the final draft text on the pretext that it fails to ban sales of weapons to groups that commit "acts of aggression".
Now the proponents of the treaty have scheduled to put it to vote in the UN General Assembly next week.
India, which had worked hard during the negotiations, had expressed its deep concerns on the final draft.
In her intervention during the closing arguments, India's Permanent Representative to Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, and head of the Indian Delegation to the Arms Trade Treaty Conference Sujata Mehta said the final version fell short of India's expectations and that of other likeminded countries.
"At the commencement of this Conference India had made clear that the ATT should make a real impact on illicit trafficking in conventional arms and their illicit use especially by terrorists and other unauthorised and unlawful non-state actors. The provisions in the final draft on terrorism and non-state actors are weak and diffused and find no mention in the specific prohibitions of the Treaty," Mehta said in her intervention.
India, she said, has stressed consistently that the treaty should ensure a balance of obligations between exporting and importing states.
"India cannot accept that the treaty be used as an instrument in the hands of exporting states to take unilateral force majeure measures against importing states parties without consequences," she added.