Global arms spending continues to rise

June 10th, 2008 - 9:45 am ICT by IANS  

Stockholm, June 10 (DPA) The United States accounted for almost half the world’s military expenditures in 2007, a year when global arms sales also climbed, says a Sweden-based peace institute. Last year, global military expenditures totalled $1,339 billion (current rates) or $202 per capita, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said, adding that the global increase was six percent in real terms over that of 2006.

The US had a 45-percent share of world military spending or $547 billion in 2007, the highest in the US since World War II.

The other top four military spenders - Britain, China, France and Japan - each accounted for four percent to five percent, the SIPRI Yearbook said.

Russia, benefiting from its exports of oil and gas and other natural resources, was estimated to be in seventh place, spending $35.4 billion in 2007, up 13 percent on 2006, SIPRI said.

Eastern Europe was the region where military spending increased most in real terms during the 10-year period 1998-2007 - up 162 percent compared to the global average of 45 percent, SIPRI said.

In the Middle East, South Asia, Africa and East Asia, military spending also increased more than 50 percent since 1998 while only Western Europe and Central America bucked the trend.

Combined arms sales from the world’s top 100 companies, not including China, increased five percent in real terms to $315 billion for 2006, the latest year covered by SIPRI.

Of the 100 companies, 41 were US-based and accounted for 63 percent of arms sales, SIPRI said.

Thirty-four European companies had a 29-percent share while eight companies in Russia accounting for two percent of sales.

Companies in Japan, Israel, India and South Korea had most of the remainder.

The US and Russia were the world’s largest arms exporters during 2003-2007, accounting for 31 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

China and India were the world’s largest importers although deliveries and orders to China dropped. Other large importers included the United Arab Emirates, Greece and South Korea.

In its annual outlook, the institute said there were 14 major armed conflicts in 2007. Four conflicts that increased in intensity in 2007 were Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Turkey.

The institute concluded that armed conflicts were becoming “more complex,” citing Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, Iraq and Pakistan as examples of increasing “fragmentation of armed violence” partly due to “state weakness.”

In 2007, SIPRI registered 61 peacekeeping operations, the highest tally since 1999. Twenty were in Europe and 18 in Africa. The United Nations was in charge of 10 operations in Africa.

According to the yearbook, eight states have almost 10,200 operational nuclear weapons, but it noted that little headway was made in talks to reduce nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.

SIPRI director Bates Gill, however, said the coming two-year period offered “a window of opportunity” on arms control, citing the emergence of new leaders in the United Nations as well as powers like France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Britain, and the US as of January.

The Swedish parliament created SIPRI as an independent foundation in 1966.

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