US welcomes 'effective' global treaty on arms trade

US Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday welcomed the first treaty to regulate the global trade in conventional weapons, saying it will help stem the flow of arms used in war crimes and genocide.

The treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly was "strong, effective and implementable," Kerry said, while insisting it would not infringe on the US Constitution and the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The pact "can strengthen global security while protecting the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade," he added in a statement.

The first major arms accord since the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would cover the estimated $80-billion-a-year trade in tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, as well as small arms.

It has no automatic enforcement. However, it seeks to force the weapons industry within accepted boundaries.

The United States -- which is the world's biggest arms producer -- has signed onto the treaty, but it will still need ratification by Congress.

Kerry stressed the pact only referred to "international trade, and reaffirms the sovereign right of any State to regulate arms within its territory."

An earlier attempt to also include the regulation of ammunitions within the scope of the treaty had to be shelved after US opposition.

The pact would create "a common international standard for the national regulation of the international trade in conventional arms and require all states to develop and implement the kind of systems that the United States already has in place," Kerry said.

It would also "help reduce the risk that international transfers of conventional arms will be used to carry out the world's worst crimes, including terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes."

The United States is meanwhile embroiled in a heated domestic gun control debate, following a series of high-profile shootings.

President Barack Obama has proposed a sweeping gun control package, calling for background checks on all gun purchases, limits on high-capacity ammunition magazines and a reinstated assault weapons ban.

But the proposals seem likely be stripped of some key elements in Congress, amid fierce opposition from the gun lobby.