Treaties can be signed by an American president and his representatives, but that doesn't necessarily mean the treaty will be immediately submitted to the Senate for ratification. In the interim, a president may have the power to begin moving toward treaty compliance under his executive authority.
For a scholarly treatment of the ins-and-outs of ratification issues and options, check out Unratified Treaties, Domestic Politics, and the U.S. Constitution by Duke law professor Curtis A. Bradley.
What are the chances President Obama will sign the soon-to-be-finished UN Arms Trade Treaty and choose to move toward compliance by executive order and agency regulation?
And if Mr. Obama chooses a non-ratification route, would his administration gradually phase in new regulations and other restrictions (perhaps so they don't seem so severe initially)? Or would the O-team go for giving us the full monty from the git-go?
Stay tuned folks. This picture may become more clear in the coming weeks.