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Iran, N. Korea, Syria Block UN Arms Treaty

United Nations — Iran, North Korea and Syria blocked adoption of a U.N. treaty that would regulate the multibillion-dollar international arms trade for the first time, saying it fails to ban sales to terrorists, but other countries refused to let the treaty die.

The treaty’s adoption required agreement by all 193 U.N. member states, but some countries said Thursday they would ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to bring the final draft before the General Assembly for adoption as soon as possible.

“This is not failure,” British Ambassador Jo Adamson said. “Today is success deferred, and deferred by not very long.”

There has never been an international treaty regulating the estimated $60 billion global arms trade. For more than a decade, activists and some governments have been pushing for international rules to try to keep illicit weapons out of the hands of terrorists, insurgent fighters and organized crime.

After two weeks of intensive negotiations, many delegates had been optimistic that consensus was within reach, but Iran, North Korea and Syria announced they could not support the treaty.

Both Iran and North Korea are under U.N. arms embargoes over their nuclear programs, while Syria is in the third year of a conflict that has escalated to civil war.

Amnesty International said all three countries “have abysmal human rights records — having even used arms against their own citizens.”

This was the second attempt in eight months to get countries with very different interests behind an Arms Trade Treaty.

Hopes of reaching agreement were dashed in July when the U.S. said it needed more time to consider the proposed accord — a move quickly backed by Russia and China. In December, the U.N. General Assembly decided to hold a final conference and set yesterday as the deadline.

U.S. deputy representative Dan Mahley said yesterday that the United States supported the proposed treaty as “fair and balanced” and looked forward to its quick adoption by the General Assembly.