The Obama administration is amending its regulations for weapons sales to allow the export of armed drones to friendly nations and allies.

The State Department said Tuesday the new policy would allow foreign governments that meet certain requirements to buy the vehicles that have played a critical but controversial role in combating terrorism and are increasingly used for other purposes. Recipient countries would be required to sign end-use statements certifying that the drones would not be used for unlawful surveillance or force against domestic populations and would only be used in internationally sanctioned military operations, such as self-defense. Each sale would be reviewed individually and the pledges would be monitored for compliance, the department said in a statement.

Previously, drone transfers had been governed by regulations that presumed that requests would be denied except in highly unusual circumstances. Certain armed drones – those with a range of 186 miles and able to carry a payload of 1,100 pounds – will still be subject to those restrictions.

The new policy is also part of a broader U.S. strategy to cooperate with other nations to formulate global standards for the sale, transfer and use of unmanned aerial systems, it said.

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