A third of all weapons exported are American, and nearly half of the US weapons end up in the Middle East, according to a new report by the Swedish peace research institute SIPRI.
- The US has a stated ambition to increase its exports, said Aude Fleurant at the Peace Research Institute in connection with the release of the SIPRI report Monday.
While regional tension and conflicts has increased in several parts of the world, the US is exporting weapons to 96 countries.
Saudi Arabia is the country that buys most of the American weapons, a country that for years has been criticized by human rights groups and other organizations.
But it is considerations other than human rights that form the US arms exports, Fleurant points out.
- I'm not saying that the United States doesn't not care about human rights, but the export is determined by entirely different reasons. The goal is rather building alliances, regional balance of power and military presence. I know that the US has approached the East Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea, and countries in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, says Fleurant, director of SIPRI's research program for weapons and military spending.
Arab weapons factories
In Yemen, a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia uses advanced weapons from the United States and Europe in their warfare, according to Pieter Wezeman of SIPRI.
The war has cost thousands of civilians lives since Saudi Arabia on behalf of the government began a massive air campaign against local Houthi rebels last spring.
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates now want to build their own weapons factories and enter into licensing agreements to start their own production of weapons, said Fleurant.
While US exports of major weapons increased by 27 percent in the period 2011-2015 compared to 2006-2010, Russia's increase over the same period was 28 percent.
Russia supplies weapons to 50 countries and rebels in Ukraine, it is pointed out in the report, India is the largest recipient of Russian weapons. China receives 11 percent of the Russian arms exports.
Meanwhile, China from the period 2006-2010 to 2011-2015 increased its arms exports by 88 percent. China's share of global arms exports has increased from 3.6 percent to 5.9 percent.
China supplies weapons to 37 countries, mainly in Asia and Oceania.
- China is still not ready to sell advanced weapons such as the US offers on an international level, says Fleurant.
She adds that it is very difficult for SIPRI to gain an understanding of how much China earns on arms. Researchers have not been able to find out the costs to produce weapons in China.
- China has the same strategy as the US, to use military exports to develop ties to countries where they have interests, she explains.
In Europe, France, Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy constitute the largest supply of arms to the world market. In total, these five countries stood for 21 percent of the global arms exports in the period 2011-2015.
The SIPRI report, which was presented Monday, does not disclose the value of arms exports for the period 2011-2015, but in late December, SIPRI reported that for 2015 alone, weapons and military equipment was sold for $395 billion.
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