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Asian nations lead surge in weapons imports

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Asian states lead a global increase in weapons imports, according to a study released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Globally the volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons was 24 per cent higher in the period 2007-11 compared to the 2002-06 period, the report said.

Over the past five years, Asia and Oceania accounted for 44 per cent in volume of conventional arms imports, according to the institute which specialises in arms control and disarmament matters.

That compared with 19 per cent for Europe, 17 per cent for the Middle East, 11 per cent for North and South America, and nine per cent for Africa, said the report.

“India was the world’s largest recipient of arms, accounting for 10 per cent of global arms imports,” the report said.

The next four largest importers were South Korea at six per cent, Pakistan at five per cent, China at five per cent, and Singapore at four per cent.

Those five countries accounted for 30 per cent of the volume of international arms imports, said SIPRI.

"India's imports of major weapons increased by 38 per cent between 2002-06 and 2007-11," SIPRI said.

Arab states

The study found that major suppliers, such as the US and Russia, had continued selling weapons to Arab countries where popular uprisings and subsequent state crackdowns have happened since late 2010.

"During 2011, the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria used imported weapons in the suppression of peaceful demonstrations among other alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” the report said.

The US continues weapons sales to both Tunisia and Egypt, the report said. In 2011, the US delivered 45 M-1A1 tanks to Egypt and planned to sell an additional 125.

Russia delivered 78 per cent of Syria’s weapons imports in the last five-year period, the report said. This amounted to a 580 per cent increase from 2002-2006.

Saudi Arabia’s request for 154 F-15 fighter jets from the US, the report said, was the most “significant” order of any country in 2011 and the Gulf kingdom’s biggest arms deal in at least 20 years.

Throughout the Middle East as a whole, weapons imports decreased by eight per cent over the period of the survey. However, SIPRI warned "this trend will soon be reversed."

"The transfer of arms to states affected by the Arab Spring has provoked public and parliamentary debate in a number of supplier states," said Mark Bromley, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.

“However, the impact of these debates on states' arms export policies has, up to now, been limited.”


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