Trump heeds NRA, pulls U.S. out of U.N. arms treaty

INDIANAPOLIS, April 26 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Friday announced at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting that the United States will drop out of an international arms treaty signed in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama but opposed by the NRA and other conservative groups.

Trump told members of the gun lobby that he intends to revoke the status of the United States as a signatory of the Arms Trade Treaty, which was never ratified by the U.S. Senate.

"We're taking our signature back," Trump said to thousands of cheering attendees, many wearing red hats emblazoned with the Republican president's "Make America Great Again" slogan.

The NRA has long opposed the treaty which regulates the $70 billion business in conventional arms and seeks to keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers. The lobbying group argues it would undermine domestic gun rights, a view the Obama administration rejected.

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The National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights supporters
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The National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights supporters
A gun rights demonstrator armed with a rifle walks past a sign memorializing the children and teachers killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, as protesters aligned with the Women's March hold a rally against the National Rifle Association at NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, U.S. July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters listen to U.S. President Donald Trump deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Supporters wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Onlookers, including a man wearing a National Rifle Association (NRA) t-shirt, watch as a 95-by-50-foot American flag is unfurled on the side of an apartment complex, a replica of the "The Great Flag" that was spun, woven, dyed, constructed and displayed on the same building by Amoskeag Manufacturing Company in 1914, in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox (L) and Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre (R) welcome U.S. President Donald Trump (C) onstage to deliver remarks at the National Rifle Association (NRA) Leadership Forum at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
File Photo: NRA gun enthusiasts view Sig Sauer rifles at the National Rifle Association's annual meetings & exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. on May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun enthusiasts look over Smith & Wesson guns at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo
James Bell from Nashville, TN, look over rifle scopes from Burris Riflescope at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S. May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II/File Photo
Gun enthusiasts poses for a picture with an FN MK 48 machine gun and a MK 19 grenade launcher at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings & exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun enthusiasts look over guns at FN America firearms at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Gun instructor Robert Allen (L) works with Eathan Hawkins (8) at the air gun range at the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meetings and exhibits show in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Indiana Governor Mike Pence addresses members of the National Rifle Association during their NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
Attendees recite the pledge of allegiance before the National Rifle Association's NRA-ILA Leadership Forum during their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 20, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Attendees visit the trade booths during the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Attendees visit the trade booths during the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Activists hold a protest and vigil against gun violence on the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, outside the National Rifle Association (NRA) headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia December 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Brendan Walsh looks at a rifle scope in the trade booths showroom during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Fans wait in line to meet musician and supporter of the NRA, Ted Nugent, who was signing autographs during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Musician and supporter of the NRA, Ted Nugent, signs autographs during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Dave Verner looks at pistols and scopes in the trade booth area during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
Brett Throckmorten of Barnes Bullets shows Logan Wingo how to sight down an electronic rifle in the trade booth area during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, April 11, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
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Trump added that the United Nations will soon receive formal notice of the withdrawal.

The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the treaty in April 2013 and the United States, the world's No. 1 arms exporter, voted in favor of it despite fierce opposition from the NRA.

Trump's action drew an immediate rebuke from some international human rights groups.

"The United States will now lock arms with Iran, North Korea and Syria as non-signatories to this historic treaty whose sole purpose is to protect innocent people from deadly weapons,” said Oxfam America President Abby Maxman.

Adotei Akwei, of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement: “With this announcement the Trump administration will re-open the floodgates for arms sales with weakened human rights criteria."

So far 101 countries have formally joined onto the treaty. Another 29, including the United States, have signed it, but not yet formally joined.

Trump was joined on his trip to Indianapolis by White House national security adviser John Bolton, an advocate of withdrawing the United States from international treaties out of concern they might undermine U.S. authority.

With Friday's announcement, Trump continued his drive to roll back Obama-era initiatives.

Nearly two years ago, Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to reduce global carbon emissions that scientists link to harmful climate change. Republicans argue the U.S. economy would suffer if it met the deal's carbon-reduction goals.

In May, 2018, Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 international deal that eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict limits being placed on Iran's nuclear activities. The United States has since reimposed some sanctions that had been suspended under the deal. (Reporting By Roberta Rampton in Indianapolis, Steve Holland in Washington and Michelle Nichols in New York; Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Mary Milliken, Bill Trott and David Gregorio)

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