The United States has extended its lead in global arms exports over the past five years, said the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday.
According to new data on arms transfers published by the Swedish-based institute, violent conflicts in the Middle East and regional tensions in Asia drove growing arms imports in the 2013-2017 period.
U.S. LEADS ARMS EXPORTS
According to the new study, the United States has strengthened its position as the world's top arms seller over the past five years, providing 34 percent of total arms exports.
SIPRI said U.S. arms exports increased by 25 percent in the 2013-2017 period, compared with 2008-2012. U.S. exports in the period 2008-2012 accounted for 30 percent of the world total.
"Based on deals signed during the (former U.S. President Barack) Obama administration, U.S. arms deliveries in 2013-2017 reached their highest level since the late 1990s," said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program. "These deals and further major contracts signed in 2017 will ensure that the United States remains the largest arms exporter in the coming years."
According to the study, U.S. arms exports in the 2013-2017 period were 58 percent higher than those of Russia, the second largest arms exporter in that period. The United States sold arms to at least 98 countries, and a large portion of U.S. exports were comprised of combat and transport aircraft.
ARMS IMPORTS TO MIDDLE EAST DOUBLE
Arms imports to the Middle East have doubled over the past 10 years, fuelled by war and conflict in the region, said the study.
SIPRI said weapons imports by countries in the Middle East increased by 103 percent between 2008 and 2017, and accounted for one third of global arms imports in the 2013-2017 period.
"Widespread violent conflict in the Middle East and concerns about human rights have led to political debate in Western Europe and North America about restricting arms sales," said senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman.
"Yet the United States and European states remain the main arms exporters to the region and supplied over 98 percent of weapons imported by Saudi Arabia," said Wezeman.
According to the study, which monitors arms deliveries by volume every five years to iron out short-term fluctuations, Saudi Arabia is the world's second-largest importer of arms after India, and the United States accounts for 61 percent of arms imports to Saudi Arabia, and Britain for 23 percent.
GROWING DEMAND IN INDIA
India was the world's largest importer of major arms in the 2013-2017 period, accounting for 12 percent of the global total, said SIPRI, adding that India's imports increased by 24 percent between 2008 and 2017.
At the same time, arms deliveries to India from the United States increased more than six-fold in the five-year period, the institute calculated.
In addition, Asia was the biggest region for arms imports, covering 42 percent of the global total between 2013 and 2017, said the study.
Another SIPRI researcher Siemon Wezeman said that the tensions between India and Pakistan are fuelling the former's growing demand for major weapons, which it remains unable to produce itself.