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UN passes treaty to regulate global arms trade

UNITED NATIONS -- The General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the first international treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar global arms trade Tuesday, seeking to keep weapons from terrorists, organized crime figures and human rights violators.

The resolution was approved by a vote of 154 to 3, with 23 abstentions.

What impact it will have in curbing the estimated $60 billion global arms trade remains to be seen. The landmark UN treaty will take effect after 50 countries ratify it, and a lot will depend on which ones ratify, which ones don't, and how stringently it is implemented.

Enforcement is left up to the nations that ratify the treaty, which requires these countries to cooperate on its implementation and to assist each other in investigating and prosecuting violations.

Iran, North Korea and Syria voted no on the treaty while Russia and China abstained.

The United States, the world's largest arms exporter, voted in favor. But the treaty is likely to face stiff resistance from pro-gun rights conservatives in the U.S. Senate, where it needs the approval of two-thirds of the 100 lawmakers to win ratification.

The treaty will require countries that ratify it to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms. It covers battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons.

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