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Old 11-18-2006, 03:10 AM
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Default US is top purveyor on weapons sales list - Shipments grow to unstable areas


US is top purveyor on weapons sales list - Shipments grow to unstable areas

By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff | November 13, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The United States last year provided nearly half of the weapons sold to militaries in the developing world, as major arms sales to the most unstable regions -- many already engaged in conflict -- grew to the highest level in eight years, new US government figures show.

According to the annual assessment, the United States supplied $8.1 billion worth of weapons to developing countries in 2005 -- 45.8 percent of the total and far more than second-ranked Russia with 15 percent and Britain with a little more than 13 percent.

Arms control specialists said the figures underscore how the largely unchecked arms trade to the developing world has become a major staple of the American weapons industry, even though introducing many of the weapons risks fueling conflicts rather than aiding long-term US interests.
The report was compiled by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

"We are at a point in history where many of these sales are not essential for the self-defense of these countries and the arms being sold continue to fuel conflicts and tensions in unstable areas," said Daryl G. Kimball , executive director of the nonpartisan Arms Control Association in Washington. "It doesn't make much sense over the long term."

The United States, for instance, also signed an estimated $6.2 billion worth of new deals last year to sell attack helicopters, missiles, and other armaments to developing nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, India, Israel, Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Developing nations are designated as all those except in North America, Western Europe, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand.

In addition to weapons already delivered, new contracts for future weapons deliveries topped $44 billion last year -- the highest overall since 1998, according to the report. Nearly 70 percent of them were designated for developing nations.

Many of the US sales are justified by American officials as critical to the war on terrorism or other foreign policy goals such as checking an emerging China. One such example is the recent decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

The United States has long relied on arms sales to prop up allies or enhance collective defense arrangements.

"For decades, during the height of the Cold War, providing conventional weapons to friendly states was an instrument of foreign policy utilized by the United States and its allies," according to the report, titled "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations."

"This was equally true for the Soviet Union and its allies," the report said.
Yet there is growing evidence that the sales are increasingly more about dollars and cents for the US military-industrial complex and other major military economies. The trend began after the end of the Cold War, when American, European, Russian, and other defense industries were forced to consolidate and competition for foreign sales heated up.

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http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2006/11/13/us_is_top_purveyor_on_weapons_sales_list/

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