Lawmakers Aim to Prevent Trump From Bypassing Ban on Armed Drone Sales

Senators from both parties say President Trump cannot be allowed to help drone technology proliferate, and they want it to be kept away from Saudi Arabia in particular.

WASHINGTON — A bill Democratic and Republican senators plan to introduce on Thursday would ban the sale of advanced armed drones to any nation that is not a close ally of the United States, according to lawmakers and congressional aides.

The measure is aimed at halting an effort by the Trump administration to bypass an arms control pact that the United States helped establish in 1987. The agreement, known as the Missile Technology Control Regime, is not legally binding, but its 35 signatories have generally abided by it.

The Trump administration announced in 2018 that it was expanding drone sales, but officials then debated for two years on how to circumvent the arms control pact. American officials failed to persuade counterparts from other member nations to agree to change the language in the pact that bans the sale of large armed drones.

But last month, President Trump and the State Department announced they would simply ignore the restrictions set by the agreement and begin distributing licenses.


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