The global transfer of major arms has risen in recent years, with the United States increasing its dominance of the trade while the flow of weaponry to Africa, Asia and the Middle East has increased, a new study published Monday showed.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report, the volume of international transfers of major weapons — including sales and donations — was 14 percent higher in 2011–2015 than over the five previous years, with the US and Russia doing most of the exporting.
The biggest importers were India, Saudi Arabia, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The authors of the report singled out the conflict in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is backing the government against Iran-supported Shiite Huthi rebels.
“A coalition of Arab states is putting mainly US- and European-sourced advanced arms into use in Yemen,” senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman said in the report.
‘US arms went to 96 states’
The United States has sold or donated major arms to a diverse range of recipients across the globe, the report said.
“As regional conflicts and tensions continue to mount, the USA remains the leading global arms supplier by a significant margin,” said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.
“The USA has sold or donated major arms to at least 96 states in the past five years, and the US arms industry has large outstanding export orders,” including for over 600 F-35 combat aircraft, said Fleurant.
The biggest chunk of US major arms, 41 percent, went into Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East.
“Despite low oil prices, large deliveries of arms to the Middle East are scheduled to continue as part of contracts signed in the past five years,” Wezeman added.
Russia remains in second place on the SIPRI exporters list, with its share of the total up three points to 25 percent, though the levels dropped in 2014 and 2015 — coinciding with Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine conflict.
India took the largest chunk of Russian weaponry and SIPRI also listed pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine among the recipients.
While the flows of weapons to Africa, Asia and Oceania and the Middle East all increased between 2006–10 and 2011–15, there had been a sharp fall in the flow to Europe and a minor decrease in the volume heading to the Americas, according to SIPRI.
The overall transfer of arms has been upwards this century after a relative drop in the previous 20 years.
China leapfrogged both France and Germany over the past five years to become the third-largest source of major arms globally, with an 88-percent rise in exports.
Most of the Chinese weapons went to other Asian countries, with Pakistan the main recipient.
India remains by far the biggest importer of major arms, accounting for 14 percent of the total; twice as much as second-placed Saudi Arabia and three times as much as China.