US Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine K. Albright provided on April 28 to the UN Secretary-General the latest US submission to the UN Register of Conventional Arms. Prepared by the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from data and information supplied by the Departments of Defense and State, the submission contains the items requested by the United Nations. These include data in the recommended UN format on the number of US international transfers (exports and imports) of seven categories of major conventional arms during 1994, as well as available background information on US military holdings and procurement through national production in 1994 and on US arms import and export policies, legislation, and administrative procedures.
The report to the United Nations indicates that in 1994 the United States exported major arms to 19 countries in the Register's seven major categories (battle tanks, attack helicopters, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, warships, missiles and launchers) and imported armaments from only one country.
The UN Register represents both an old idea, first raised in the League of Nations before World War II, and an innovative new direction for the post-Cold War international security agenda. It reflects a change in emphasis from preoccupation with the danger of nuclear war to measures that can increase confidence, reduce suspicions, and help expose and stem the proliferation of destabilizing and excessive accumulations of conventional armaments, especially in regions of tension.
The Register was established by UN Resolution 46/36L on Transparency in Armaments and adopted without dissent on December 9, 1991 by a vote of 150-0, with Iraq and Cuba abstaining and China and Syria not participating in the vote. Resolution 46/36L put in motion a multi-dimensional process which, among other things, instituted the Register of Conventional Arms and called on all member countries to report the number of arms in seven categories exported or imported from their territory during the calendar year.
This resolution, initiated by the European Community and Japan and co-sponsored by the United States, sent an important message to the international community and helped set a desirable new direction and tone to the international security agenda. The Register is intended to serve as an important global confidence-building measure and a political gesture symbolizing this new direction.
Information contributed by countries to the UN Register of Conventional Arms is available to all countries and will be compiled by the Secretary General in a report to the UN General Assembly. The United States was among the countries whose contribution was made ahead of the April 30 deadline. Some countries are still in the process of submitting their data.
The United States believes the UN Register will encourage countries to develop national procedures for reviewing the potential impact of arms transfers on regional and international security. It may also encourage countries to develop appropriate means of control over the export and import of arms. The Register does not, however, provide a means of measuring the military capabilities of countries or serve as an arms control measure as such.