The United States said on Friday it saw no need for new international agreements at a U.N. conference opening next week to weigh a tightening of a five-year-old crackdown on illegal trafficking in small arms.
"The purpose of this conference is simply to follow up on activities authorized by the 2001 conference, and we don't see any need for treaties or agreements coming out of this," said John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
The June 26-July 7 conference was called to review a 2001 U.N. action plan against the $1 billion-a-year trade in small arms, which as defined by the United Nations range from pistols and rifles to grenades, mortars and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.
The 2001 plan set out broad guidelines for national and international measures to better track arms sales, manage government stockpiles and destroy illicit weapons.
Anti-gun activists say they want the 2006 review conference to back a new treaty or, failing that, international guidelines governing arms transfers. Those would aim to prevent, for example, deals with criminals or terrorists, or for use in a genocide or in violation of a U.N. arms embargo.
Bolton saw "no need for that," he said.
Ahead of the U.N. meeting, the U.S. National Rifle Association, a strong supporter of the George W. Bush administration, has warned its members of a July 4 plot to finalize a U.N. treaty stripping citizens of all nations of the right to own guns -- a charge with no basis in fact.
Americans mistakenly worried about the U.S. Independence Day conspiracy have flooded the world body with more than 100,000 letters demanding the nonexistent treaty's defeat.
"Illicit trafficking of light weapons is something that can exacerbate conflict situations, but the responsible use of firearms is a legitimate part of national life" in the United States, Bolton said.
"We are not out to take guns away from Americans," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Friday.
"The intention is to ensure that guns do not get into the wrong hands and are used for the civil wars that we see around the world," Annan told reporters. "We are often concerned about weapons of mass destruction, and yet most of the killing taking place today, whether in (Sudan's) Darfur or Congo or elsewhere, is done by small arms."