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The forthcoming UN Arms Trade Treaty, likely to be ratified in spring next year, could harm museums' ability to acquire or borrow items, as it seeks to regulate the transfer of title or control over such equipment and the physical movement in or out of a national territory.

MA director Mark Taylor said: "The next five years will see a huge number of military anniversaries for which museums worldwide are negotiating exchanges and loans."

He added that the International Committee of Museums of Arms and Military History is lobbying the UN to ensure an exemption for antique and museum arms and weapons, and he has also written to the International Council for Museums to ask for their support.