US President Donald Trump arrives to speak during the National Rifle Association annual meeting on Friday in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump declared Friday that his country would not abide by a United Nations treaty aimed at regulating the global arms trade, describing it as “misguided” and an encroachment on American sovereignty.

Trump said the US Senate had not ratified the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty despite his predecessor Barack Obama having endorsed it, and said he would never do so.

“We will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone,” Trump said in a speech to the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis. “We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom,” he said, referring to the constitutional right to bear arms.

“And that is why my administration will never ratify the UN arms trade treaty.”

He added, “I am officially announcing today that the United States will be revoking the effect of America’s signature from this badly misguided treatment. We’re taking our signature back.”

The treaty, which entered into effect in December 2014, seeks to regulate the flow of weapons into conflict zones.

It requires member countries to keep records of international transfers of weapons and to prohibit cross-border shipments that could be used in human rights violations or attacks on civilians.

While 130 countries originally signed the treaty, only 101 have ratified and joined it. Those include major powers like France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The world’s largest arms traders, the United States, China and Russia, have not joined.

In a statement, the White House said the treaty “fails to truly address the problem of irresponsible arms transfers, while providing a platform for those who would seek to constrain our ability to sell arms to our allies and partners.”

It also claimed that some groups are trying to use the treaty to overturn “sovereign national decisions” on arms exports – pointing to one effort to block the British government’s sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

“The ATT is simply not needed for the United States to engage in responsible arms trade,” the White House said.

– with reporting by AFP

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