UN arms treaty won't affect US weapon sales: Taiwan

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Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said it believes the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that was passed by the UN General Assembly on Tuesday will not affect US arms sales to Taiwan.

"The purpose of the ATT is to impose constraints on the sale of arms to governments and armed groups that commit war crimes, genocide and other mass atrocities," Anna Kao, MOFA spokesperson, told The China Post.

The ministry believes that the ATT will not affect Taiwan's right to purchase arms from the US because it purchases weapons for the sole purpose of self-defense and the arms deals are beneficial in maintaining regional stability, she added.

She believes that Washington will abide by the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and Six Assurances and continue providing arms to Taiwan.

The spokesperson made the remarks in light of the UN's Tuesday decision to create the treaty amid concern from scholars that the ATT could make it difficult for the US to sell weapons to Taiwan.

The ATT, the first treaty regulating the global trade in arms, is seen by most countries as a landmark decision that imposes new constraints on selling weapons to governments and groups that commit war crimes, genocide and other mass atrocities.

The treaty covers a wide range of conventional weapons, including battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large-calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, missiles and small arms.

Under the accord, these items cannot be transferred to countries that are subject to UN arms embargoes or to states that promote genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

The treaty will not go into force until 90 days after it is ratified by at least 50 member states.

Scholars' concern

But according to a paper published by US scholars on June, 2012, it warned that the ATT could hinder Taiwan's right to buy or import arms because it is not a UN member state.

Heritage Foundation Research Fellows Ted Bromund and Dean Cheng who wrote the paper said in 2012 that because Taiwan is not a UN member state - and is not recognised by a majority of UN members - the ATT, once approved, would not recognise its right to buy or import arms.

The TRA, enacted in 1979 when Washington switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing, obliges the US to help Taiwan defend itself.

In 1982, then-USPresident Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan the Six Assurances, which included a promise that the US would not set a date for the termination of arms sales to Taiwan.

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