The Trump administration recently announced that it is unilaterally reinterpreting the Missile Technology Control Regime, a multilateral agreement among 35 countries that limits the proliferation of ballistic missiles and drones. Even though the agreement is not a treaty and is not legally binding, the member countries have followed the control guidelines, including those that restrict exporting drones with high payload and speed capabilities to other countries. The reinterpretation significantly loosens previously existing limits on exporting drones.
The change signals a victory for arms manufacturers and foreign governments that seek to export and obtain, respectively, advanced U.S.-manufactured drones. It also serves as yet another example of the undue influence that arms manufacturers have on executive policymaking.
A review by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) of lobbying records found a concerted campaign by arms manufacturers, foreign governments, and think tanks to pressure the U.S. government to lift export controls restricting drone sales abroad. For example, POGO found that governments retained lobbyists who also represented the interests of domestic arms manufacturers, and that think tanks often wrote reports with talking points that directly benefited arms manufacturers and at least one foreign government.
We’re not the only organization to have found this. The Center for Responsive Politics also notes that General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the drone division of General Atomics, spent at least $270,000 between April and June 2020 lobbying on drone guidelines in the multilateral agreement. This accounted for roughly 20% of all General Atomics’ lobbying efforts. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the POGO website.