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In brief: U.S. blamed for derailing arms treaty

Sat., July 28, 2012, midnight

United Nations – Member states failed to reach agreement Friday on a new U.N. treaty to regulate the multibillion dollar global arms trade, and some diplomats and supporters blamed the United States for triggering the unraveling of the monthlong negotiating conference.

Hopes had been raised that agreement could be reached on a revised treaty text that closed some major loopholes by Friday’s deadline for action. But the U.S. announced Friday that it needed more time to consider the proposed treaty – and Russia and China then also asked for more time.

“This was stunning cowardice by the Obama administration, which at the last minute did an about-face and scuttled progress toward a global arms treaty, just as it reached the finish line,” said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

A Western diplomat also blamed the U.S., saying “they derailed the process,” adding that nothing will happen to revive negotiations until after the U.S. presidential election in November.

The chief U.S. negotiator refused to talk to several dozen reporters when the meeting broke up.

The draft treaty would require all countries to establish national regulations to control the transfer of conventional arms and to regulate arms brokers. It would prohibit states that ratify the treaty from transferring conventional weapons if they would violate arms embargoes or if they would promote acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes.

As embargo pinches, Iran stockpiling food

Tehran, Iran – An Iranian news agency is reporting the country has begun to stockpile a three-month supply of foodstuffs for its population.

The Friday report by semi-official Mehr quotes deputy industry minister Hasan Radmard as saying the country has been buying wheat, cooking oil, sugar and rice for the food reserve.

Radmard said the decision came based on a decree by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in recent weeks. Part of the purchased foodstuffs has already been imported, he added.

Iran’s trade with other countries has been hindered since the United States and the European Union imposed a banking and insurance embargo on Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.

Pentagon weighing intervention in Mali

Aspen, Colo. – The Obama administration is considering U.S. intervention to pressure al-Qaida-inspired militants who have seized territory in the African nation of Mali.

Michael Sheehan, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary for special operations, was asked Thursday whether the United States would use targeted strikes or special operations troops to help the Malian government fight the militants.

“All options are being considered” against “a looming threat,” Sheehan said. “There have been no decisions.”

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, a gathering of current and former national security officials, Sheehan said there was deep concern about the militants’ activities in northern Mali, which has fallen out of the control of Mali’s coup-led government in Bamako, the capital.

“We cannot allow al-Qaida to sit in ungoverned places,” Sheehan said of northern Mali.

In March, a military coup ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure. A junta handed power to an interim government, but the junta’s leaders, including Capt. Amadou Sanogo, still wield influence.


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