US notches up record arms sales, Mid-East leads in buying


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Mar 24, 2009
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NEW DELHI: Agreements for sale of weapons by the US government zoomed up by over three times in just one year - from $21.4 billion in 2010 to $66.3 billion in 2011, the largest for a single year in the history of the US arms export program, according to a report by the US Congress Research Service. Global weapons sales agreements were pegged at $85.3 billion, a substantial increase of nearly 92 percent from $45.2 billion in 2010.

In terms of actual deliveries in 2011, the United States ranked first in the value of all arms deliveries worldwide, making nearly $16.2 billion in such deliveries. This is the eighth year in a row that the United States has led in global arms deliveries, the CRS report said.

Russia ranked a distant second to US in worldwide arms deliveries in 2011, making $8.7 billion in such deliveries. The United Kingdom ranked third in 2011, making $3 billion in such deliveries. These top three suppliers of arms in 2011 collectively delivered nearly $27.9 billion, 62.9% of all arms delivered worldwide by all suppliers in that year, the report said.

The CRS brings out an annual report on worldwide arms sales agreements and deliveries for briefing members of the US Congress. It is considered the most authentic report on government to government arms transfers.

Arms sales by private companies and traders are not covered by the report. The US is the only country in the world which licenses commercial entities to sell weapons abroad. The data of such sales, collected by US Customs is classified.

So, who is receiving all these arms? And why this jaw-dropping jump last year? Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the US has purchased an enormous arsenal leading to this increase in 2011, the report says. Overall, the global economic crisis appears to have slowed down arms trade, leading to increased competition among the arms vendors. Many traditional arms exporters like Russia have fallen behind. But the US has managed to not only stay ahead, it has increased its sales.

Developing countries are the main buyers of arms and weapon systems, according to the break-up of recipients provided in the CRS report. They entered into agreements to buy weapons worth $71.5 billion in 2011, a huge hike over the $32.7 billion total in 2010. In 2011, the value of all arms deliveries to developing nations ($28 billion) was an increase over the value of 2010 deliveries ($26.1 billion), and the highest delivery total since 2004, the report said.

Saudi Arabia was the leading recipient of arms deliveries in 2011, receiving $2.8 billion worth of arms, followed by India with $2.7 billion and Pakistan with $1.8 billion.

In fact, Saudi Arabia was the leading developing world arms purchaser from 2004 to 2011, making arms transfer agreements totaling $75.7 billion during these years. India followed at a distant second, entering into agreements worth $46.6 billion, followed by UAE with $20.3 billion, Egypt ($14.3 billion) and Pakistan ($13.2 billion).

In the 2004-2007, India ranked first in arms transfer agreements at $25.3 billion. In 2008-2011 Saudi Arabia ranked first in arms transfer agreements, with a substantial increase to $52.1 billion from $23.6 billion in the earlier 2004-2007 period.

"These increases reflect the military modernization efforts by both Saudi Arabia and India, underway since the 1990s," said the CRS report.

The arms build up in the Gulf region has been sparked off by the Arab Spring and the continued Western tension over Iran's alleged nuclear program. From 2008 to 2011, the US entered into $92 billion worth of arms agreements in the Mid-East region, that is, about 78.9% of all arms sales in the region. Russia accounted for 5.2% of the region's agreements ($6 billion).

In the period 2008-2011, Saudi Arabia made arms transfer agreements $52.1 billion. This total constituted 25.1% of all arms transfer agreements with developing nations during these four years ($207.3 billion). India ranked second in arms transfer agreements during this period with $21.3 billion, or 10.3% of the value of all developing-world arms-transfer agreements, according to the report.

US notches up record arms sales, Mid-East leads in buying - TOI Mobile | The Times of India Mobile Site

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