US Allows Sale of Armed Drones to Other Nations

State Department promises to vet sales carefully to prevent abuses
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2015 5:02 PM CST
Technicians from General Atomics move the Predator B, an unmanned surveillance aircraft, out from under an air hangar at Fort Drum. Today, the US allowed the sale of armed drones to allied nations.   (AP/ HEATHER AINSWORTH)

(Newser) – If you were still skeptical about the future of drones, this should take care of that: Arms manufacturers can now get in on the action. The White House said today that it will allow the export of armed drones to other nations, reports the Washington Post. The newspaper calls the move "a significant step for US arms policy as allied nations from Italy to Turkey to the Persian Gulf region clamor for the aircraft." To ease concerns about abuses, the State Department says it will make any nations that buy the drones pledge not to use them against their civilian populations, but instead only in "internationally sanctioned military operations," reports the AP.

The US currently sells armed drones only to Britain, and the previous restrictions had allowed nations such as Israel to gain an early advantage in the international market, reports the Wall Street Journal. The State Department says that by allowing the exports, it can now play a bigger role in helping shape international standards on the use of military drones. (The White House also recently laid out new rules governing the use of domestic drones.)

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