The Obama administration will allow the widespread export of armed drones for the first time, signaling that the White House is preparing to provide its allied nations with highly controversial weapons as the U.S. steps up its so-called 'War on Terror,' the Washington Post reports.
The Post reports:
Under the new rules, which remain classified, foreign governments’ requests for drones will be examined on a case-by-case basis, officials said. In addition to regulations governing all military sales, the sale of armed drones would be subject to Cold War-era rules establishing a “strong presumption of denial,” meaning that foreign governments would have to make a strong case for acquiring the aircraft.
Human rights and anti-war groups are likely to oppose the policy. William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, told Common Dreams that expanding drone exportation is "one of [the Obama administration's] worst policy decisions."
—William Hartung, Center for International Policy
Among those rules, according to an unclassified summary of the policy: The drones are not to be used "to conduct unlawful surveillance or [for] unlawful force against their domestic populations."
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The Post continues:
The policy also may face some opposition in Congress. Like all major weapons sales, drone exports above a certain dollar value would be subject to congressional notification, giving lawmakers an opportunity to hold up some if they have concerns.
News of the policy comes amid increased scrutiny of drone use, both in the U.S. and abroad. In October, it was revealed that the Obama administration was loosening its standards for avoiding civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria.
"This is a disastrous decision for human rights and arms control," Hartung said.