Published on Monday, June 8, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
Global Weapons Spending Hits Record Levels
by Richard Norton-Taylor
Worldwide spending on weapons has reached record levels amounting to well over $1tn last year, a leading research organisation reported today.
Global military expenditure has risen by 45% over the past decade to $1.46tn, according to the latest annual Yearbook on Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
"China had both the largest absolute and the largest relative increase," says the Sipri report. The increase "has roughly paralleled its economic growth and is also linked to its major power aspirations," it adds.
Other regional powers, including
Despite increasing its military expenditure by 3% in real terms in 2008 and by 21% since 1999,
"The idea of the 'war on terror' has encouraged many countries to see their problems through a highly militarised lens, using this to justify high military spending," said Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of Sipri's military expenditure project. "Meanwhile, the wars in
Sipri's yearbook also lists the top 100 arms producing companies, excluding Chinese ones, for which figures were unavailable. Boeing remained the top arms producer in 2007 - the most recent year for which reliable data is available - with arms sales worth $30.5bn. All the top 20 companies are American or European.
Their aggregate arms sales amounted to $347bn in 2007, an increase of 5% in real terms over 2006.
Sipri estimates that in total there are about 8,400 operational nuclear warheads in the world, of which almost 2,000 are kept on high alert and capable of being launched in minutes. Counting spare warheads, those in storage and those due to be dismantled, there are 23,300 nuclear weapons in the arsenals of eight states - the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, India, Pakistan and Israel, according to the yearbook.
The number of people forcibly displaced by conflict has also increased in recent years, with internally displaced persons (IDPs) reaching 26 million, more than twice the number of refugees, says the Sipri report. "For a large share of these people, no sustainable solution is in sight. Mass population displacement is often a result - and even a goal - of violence against civilians."
Top 10 military spenders in 2008 ($bn)
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2009
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs