Despite a push from certain UN member states (largely Western countries) to regulate international weapon trading with the signing of the Arms Trade Treaty, the U.S. has chosen to not join its fellow countries. The United States' failure to sign the treaty, while in some ways appearing to be inconsistent with its large focus on security and stifling the arms race, is a decision that must be commended in light of such a treaty’s ineffectual nature.
The U.S. is no stranger to being obstinate in the international arena, even when most of its allies may be on board with a certain idea or goal. While some may perceive such behavior as somewhat spiteful and inflexible, the U.S. does have substantial reasoning behind its actions. No matter the volume of flowery rhetoric that may be thrown around at the UN, verbal agreements such as the Arms Trade Treaty are simply not effective enough to put a stop or even a great halt to the weapons sales in the black market.
If the U.S. and the international community at large has learned anything about the illegal weapon trade between rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran, the one concept that holds true is that if there is a will, there is a way. UN members have attempted time and again to curb the eruption of black-market weapon sales and channel the arms race through UN agreements such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
However, these types of treaties have proven ineffective. Countries such as North Korea violate them through their continued missile tests and the weapon trade between countries such as Iran and Syria. While no method can or will ever be 100% effective, it appears that sanctions provide the best defense for combating the international arms race. The U.S. thus far has done excellent work in imposing and tightening sanctions as seen by its recent move to further constrict Iran’s economy which in effect will weaken its nuclear power.
Though some Americans, such as members of the NRA, stand in opposition to the Arms Trade Treaty because they fear it will affect domestic issues such as arms sales or the Second Amendment. While these beliefs are probably unfounded, the U.S. has still made the right decision in refusing to sign the treaty.
Should the U.S. wish to appease the majority of its allies and the UN members who have signed onto the Arms Trade Treaty, it may well proceed to change its stance on the agreement. However, the U.S. has proven its ability to hold its own in its efforts to stop nuclear proliferation, and it should stand by its decision while continuing to use sanctions as a deterrent.