[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 June, 2005, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Weapons spending tops $1 trillion
US marines returning from Iraq
The US "war on terror" is the main driver behind the spending boost
Spending on weapons around the world topped $1 trillion (560bn) for the first time in 2004, a new report says.

A study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) found that countries around the world spent $162 on weapons for each person alive.

The US alone accounted for 47% of the global total, mainly because of soaring spending on its "global war on terror".

Arms companies were benefiting from the demand, with sales at the top 100 firms up 25% in 2003 on the year before.

The pace of mega-mergers in the arms trade in recent years had slackened, Sipri said, but had left major military suppliers comparable in size and influence to top multinational corporations.

Driven by the US

According to the 2005 yearbook published by Sipri, a well-respected think-tank on war and peace studies, the total spending on weapons in 2004 grew 8% to $1.035 trillion - the highest dollar value yet.

The main explanation for the current level of... world military spending is the spending on military operations abroad by the US
Sipri 2005 yearbook

Adjusted for inflation, the figure falls just 6% below the all-time peak of spending in 1987-88, the last gasp of the Cold War.

The US was the primary driver behind the 2004 growth as the massive budget allocations on fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and rearmament elsewhere were spent.

In all, its extra spending on the "war on terror" between 2002 and 2004 - some $238bn - exceeded the combined military spending of the developing world including China.

"The main explanation for the current level of, and trend in, world military spending is the spending on military operations abroad by the US and to a lesser extent its coalition partners," the report said.

But other countries too were rearming rapidly, notably in the Middle East.

China and India were key recipients of conventional weapons in 2004, Sipri found. Both relied extensively on Russia as a supplier, but were now keen to diversify their spending.

Long-running wars

The report went beyond military spending to look at trends in military activity and warfare.

Chinese submarine
China is keen to look further afield to boost its forces

It identified 19 conflicts which had cost more than 1,000 lives in 2004. All but three - against Al-Qaeda, in Darfur and in Iraq - were more than a decade old, Sipri said.

The institute also noted the perception that unilateral action was overtaking multi-nation measures to deal with global security issues.

"Many actions of the USA and other 'northern' powers since 2001 seem rather to have polarised attitudes further" in the face of transnational threats," the report said.

But it also noted that many other states were seeking to pool sovereignty or work through systems of international regulation - and the limitations the US experienced in working in Iraq without institutional backing.

"It would be hasty to assume that the unilateral rather than the multilateral approach to wielding power will shape the globe's future," the report said.

Q&A: China arms embargo row
18 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific
US to sell fighters to Pakistan
26 Mar 05 |  South Asia
German arms firms muscle in
18 Nov 04 |  Europe
Weapons sales boost Boeing profit
27 Oct 04 |  Business
Russia tops US arms exports
13 Jun 02 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific