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Symbolbild Munitionen Waffenlieferung
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Global arms exports on rise: SIPRI

Gabriel Borrud
March 16, 2015

The United States has widened its lead as the world's major arms exporter, says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which has just published new data on international arms transfers.


Overall, the volume of international weapons transfers between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014 went up by 16 percent, according to an annual update of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, published on Monday.

The reports claims that US exports of major weapons increased by 23 percent between the periods of 2005-2009 and 2010-2014. The share of exports from the US was 31 percent in 2010-2014, SIPRI said, compared with 27 percent for the next largest exporter, Russia. Exports of major weapons from the Kremlin increased by 37 percent during the same period.

The findings were confirmed by Amnesty International. "As the main arms supplier to Egypt, the US authorized the sale of small arms, millions of rounds of ammunition and chemical agents for riot control, despite the security forces' violent crackdown on protesters," a spokesperson for the international human rights organization told DW in a statement.

"The US has long seen arms exports as a major foreign policy and security tool, but in recent years exports are increasingly needed to help the US arms industry maintain production levels at a time of decreasing US military expenditure," said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.

The US and Russia, though the world's largest exporters by volume, were surpassed by China with regard to weapons export growth. According to SIPRI, Chinese exports of major arms increased by 143 percent, making it the third largest supplier in 2010-2014.

Gulf imports up, Chinese imports down

Arms imports to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states increased by 71 percent from 2005-2009 to 2010-2014, accounting for 54 percent of imports to the Middle East in the latter period. Since 2010, Saudi Arabia has become the second largest importer of major weapons worldwide, increasing the volume of its arms imports four times compared to 2005-2009.

"Mainly with arms from the US and Europe, the GCC states have rapidly expanded and modernized their militaries," said Pieter Wezeman, senior SIPRI researcher.

"The GCC states, along with Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Turkey in the wider Middle East, are scheduled to receive further large orders of major arms in the coming years."

Pieter Wezeman
Low oil prices have boosted arms exports worldwide: WezemanImage: privat

Five of the top 10 global importers of major weapons in 2010-2014 are in Asia: India (15 percent of global arms imports), China (5 percent), Pakistan (4 percent), South Korea (3 percent) and Singapore (3 percent).

These five nations accounted for around 30 percent of the total volume of weapons imports worldwide. India accounted for 34 percent of the volume of arms imports to Asia, well over three times as much as China. Beijing's arms imports decreased by 42 percent between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, according to SIPRI.

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