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Report: White House Eyes Expanded Drone Sales Via Arms Pact Reinterpretation

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MQ-9 Reaper
MQ-9 Reaper

The White House plans to reinterpret a 1987 arms agreement to allow U.S. defense companies to increase sales of drones to allies, Reuters reported Friday.

Sources said the departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), Energy (DoE) and Commerce and other federal agencies agreed in May 2020 to the proposed change to the Missile Technology Control Regime. They noted that the Trump administration has informed drone manufacturers General Atomics and Northrop Grumman of its plans.

The State Department is expected to clear the first drone sales deals by summer under its MTCR reinterpretation, which is set to be reviewed by the National Security Council at its meeting Tuesday, June 16, according to people familiar with the matter.

Heidi Grant, director of defense technology security administration at DoD, said expanding drone sales would support border control efforts and help allied militaries counter terrorism and protect U.S. interests.

MTCR is a pact signed by 35 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan, Italy, Germany and France, three decades ago to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Under the proposed MTCR amendment, drones operating less than 800 kilometers per hour would be reclassified to a lower category to facilitate exports of such platforms.