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Obama Administration Introduces Policy that Permits the Export of Armed Drones

On Tuesday, the White House announced that it has enacted a new export policy for military unmanned aerial systems that will allow for the sale and transfer of the drones to international countries.

statement from the White House claimed that the new export policy is “part of a broader” policy review, which will shape the standards for the sale, transfer and use American drones between the United States and international countries:

The United States is the world’s technological leader in the development and deployment of military Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). As other nations begin to employ military UAS more regularly and as the nascent commercial UAS market emerges, the United States has a responsibility to ensure that sales, transfers, and subsequent use of all U.S.-origin UAS are responsible and consistent with U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, including economic security, as well as with U.S. values and international standards.”

The statement added that the U.S. has developed the policy to ensure that the international sale of American drones is “consistent with the requirements of the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act which govern all U.S. military transfers.”

The United States has used “drone campaigns” run by the CIA and the Defense Department in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen to target suspected terrorists. The Associated Press noted that these campaigns “have been sources of controversy,” due to the number of innocent lives lost.

According to the White House, the policy will require that the sales and transfers of “sensitive systems” are made through the “government-to-government” Foreign Military Sales program, and that potential transfers are reviewed by the Department of Defense Technology Security.

The policy also requires that each recipient nation “agree to end-use assurances as a condition of sale or transfer,” along with “end-use monitoring and potential additional security conditions.”

An anonymous State Department official told the Washington Post that the “technology is here to stay,” and that it is to the Unites States’ benefit “to have certain allies and partners equipped appropriately.