The Arms Trade Treaty failed to receive consensus support at the United Nations (UN). The purpose of the treaty is to regulate the $60 billion arms trade industry by restricting the sale and transfer of weapons. The treaty would not affect domestic use of arms but restricts conventional weapon transfers and sales. The restrictions would prevent transfers that violate arms embargoes, promote genocide, support crimes against humanity, or war crimes.
The three states that rejected the treaty are Syria, Iran, and North Korea. All three countries have abysmal human rights records and support terrorism in one way or another. The rejections were based on language within the treaty and on domestic reasons. Since these three nations were the only ones to reject the treaty does this make them the new axis of evil?
While Syria is not an arms exporter, it does import large amounts of weapons. In 2011, Syria doubled its military budget to increase purchases of weapons from abroad, including $1 billion in arms from Russia. The purchases from Russia accounted for 50% of the budget, with China, North Korea, Iran and other nations accounting for the rest. Syria has supported the terrorist group Hezbollah by acting as an agent for money and weapons. Also, the war within Syria has demonstrated that the government is willing to attack civilians with these weapons.
The government in Iran, on the other hand, purchases and provides weapons. Information on Iranian weapon purchases has been murky, but Iran has purchased weapons from Russia and China. The government purchases have provided weapons to Syria as well as to other nations. With respect to terrorism, the Iranian government has a history of supporting terrorists and providing training through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This group has provided training to members of Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran has also been the subject of a UN investigation into human rights violations that include religious persecution.
North Korean involvement in the arms trade has focused on weapons manufacturing, much more than purchasing. The nation exports $100 million in weapons and missiles each year and missile purchasers include Iran and Syria as well as others. While North Korea was removed from the list of nations sponsoring terrorism, the nation may be back on the list. Given that North Korea provides weapons to Iran and Syria, it is difficult to think of the nation as unsupportive of terrorist nations. North Korea has also been identified in torture and having secret camps involved in torture activities.
The rejected arms treaty forced the draft to go to the UN General Assembly for a vote and an expected adoption. While the top five nations involved in arms exports have accepted the treaty’s provisions, Syria, Iran, and North Korea have not. This response indicates that these rogue nations support each others’ activities and one another. Therefore, the new axis of evil is Syria, Iran, and North Korea.