The increasing global arms trade: NATO – not Russia – is the main problem

The increasing global arms trade: NATO – not Russia – is the main problem


Asia and the Middle East lead rising trend in arms imports, US exports grow significantly, says SIPRI

March 12, 2018


Continuing the upward trend that began in the early 2000s, the volume of international transfers of major weapons in 2013-17 was 10 per cent higher than in 2008-12, according to new data on arms transfers published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The flow of arms increased to Asia and Oceania and the Middle East between 2008–12 and 2013–17, while there was a decrease in the flow to Africa, the Americas and Europe. The five biggest exporters – the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China – together accounted for 74 per cent of all arms exports in 2013–17.

‘The increased flow of arms raises concerns over their impact on international peace and security’, says Ambassador Jan Eliasson, Chair of the SIPRI Governing Board. ‘It stresses the need to improve and implement international mechanisms such as the Arms Trade Treaty.’

In 2013–17 the USA accounted for 34 per cent of total arms exports. Its arms exports increased by 25 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17. US arms exports in 2013–17 were 58 per cent higher than those of Russia—the second largest arms exporter in that period. The USA supplied major arms to 98 states in 2013–17. Exports to states in the Middle East accounted for 49 per cent of total US arms exports in that period.

‘Based on deals signed during the Obama administration, US arms deliveries in 2013–17 reached their highest level since the late 1990s,’ said Dr Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘These deals and further major contracts signed in 2017 will ensure that the USA remains the largest arms exporter in the coming years.’

Arms exports by Russia decreased by 7.1 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17. France increased its arms exports by 27 per cent between the two periods and was the third largest arms exporter in 2013–17. Arms exports by Germany – the fourth largest exporter in 2013–17 – fell by 14 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17. However, German arms exports to the Middle East increased by 109 per cent.

Few countries outside North America and Europe are large exporters of arms. China was the fifth largest arms exporter in 2013–17. Its arms exports rose by 38 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17. While Pakistan was the main recipient of China’s arms exports in 2013–17, there were large increases in Chinese arms exports to Algeria and Bangladesh in that period. Israel (55 per cent), South Korea (65 per cent) and Turkey (145 per cent) substantially increased their respective arms exports between 2008–12 and 2013–17.

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Jan Oberg comments

1. Generally, the world arms trade is again increasing (see table on top). It very sad because every and each “weaponization” of a conflict makes it much more difficult to solve – and prolongs it accordingly.

2. Four of the five biggest are NATO countries. US arms trade rose by 25% in the mentioned period. That of Russia decreased in the same period by 7%. China is comparatively small for its size but increasing markedly. The Middle East which has been a major recipient region for decades seems to never get enough. However, the world arms trade is basically a problem caused by NATO-member states.

3. Jan Eliasson’s comment could hardly have been more non-committal for a chairman of a peace research institute. Why does he not say how that Treaty could be strengthened? Where is his and SIPRI’s clear condemnation of this ongoing and increasing mass murder trade? Hypothesis: He would have explicitly pointed out Russia as a danger if it, not the US/NATO, had been the largest and also most expansive arms exporter.

4. SIPRI long ago stopped being a peace research institute. One must be critical of the research policy objectives, lack of intellectual creativity and commitment to values of peace in SIPRI publications – not the least in the light of the original idea on which SIPRI was founded a good 50 years ago. Here my 2016 reflections in which I suggest SIPRI changes to SIMSI – Stockholm’s International Military Security Institute. Peace is a word we should take seriously.

5. It time to criminalize all exports of weapons and ammunition into war zones. Far too many governments and private billionaire arms dealers are still at large. Let’s begin to talk about not only war criminals (state and private) but also of war trade criminals (state and private). The latter cause the death of many more innocent people every year than individual soldiers and governments that the West condemns as war criminals.


2 Responses to "The increasing global arms trade: NATO – not Russia – is the main problem"

  1. Pingback: Western Arms Trade To The Middle East: Not for Peace and Nothing Learnt – The Transnational

  2. Lis Lendal   March 17, 2018 at 11:27 am

    NATO er 20 gange så stærk som Rusland.


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