Interview with Sergey Denisentsev – expert of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies from Moscow, Russia.
What is the position of Russia on IATT?
Well, the key difference between the Russian approach towards IATT and the approach of countries of the EU is the matter of goals of IATT. European countries believe that IATT should prevent arms sales to countries which violate humanitarian law or are suspected in acts of genocide. And the key feature of Russian position is that the main goal of IATT is should be to prevent leakage of weapons from a well controlled interstate market to uncontrolled illegal inner market of countries where weapons become available to criminals, terrorists and so on.
Russia believes that countries should develop their national arms control systems to prevent this. And Russia has one of the most well developed arms control systems in the world and we have only one arms exporting nongovernmental agency which controls all arms trade. Russia believes it should be committed by a special decree of the President and in the most Russian arms trade contracts there is a provision which prohibits re-exporting of arms, the so called final user certificate. That’s the main difference between the Russian approach and European.
When we are talking about arms, what exactly are we referring to?
One of the questions of the arms trade treaty discussion is a matter of scope of arms trade treaty. European countries believe that IATT should cover all kinds of weapons including the military, security, police, arms related equipment and ammunition and components and production equipment, and even double purpose technologies. Russia believes the scope of IATT should be limited and it reflects the position of our main arms customers because India believes that double purpose technologies shouldn’t be included in IATT. There is also opposition in the position of some other countries like the US because quite strong in the US National Rifle Association believes that IATT in some ways violates the second amendment to constitution. And we believe that the IATT shouldn’t include small arms. So, there will be a lot of discussion about the scope of IATT.
When we are discussing the positions of countries, we are mostly focusing on supplier countries but what about the buyers? What is their position vis-à-vis this treaty?
Most of the opposition against IATT is not from Russia or other main exporters like the USA but from the importing countries because they believe that the IATT limits their right to defend which is granted to them by 51 article of the United States chapter. They believe that the IATT could limit their ability to defend.
In which way?
Because the importing countries believe that IATT could be used by international community to limit their ability to buy weapons if they have some human rights records or they are suspected in some human rights violations. They just believe that the IATT would limit their right to defend in that way.
And what is your forecast? Do you think that the General Assembly might succeed in bringing up the document or is it still too far off?
Right now there is a diplomatic conference under the assistance of the US until 27th of July in New York and the situation could develop in two ways. Either the European countries will agree on the Russian approach and importing countries’ approach towards the IATT and we will receive quite a weak agreement which key feature will be raising of transparency of arms trade. The other variant is that the countries just couldn’t reach agreement at all. But I expect that the first variant - quite weak agreement – but which could be a starting point for further development in arms trade control.