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We Arm the World! US Dominates Global Arms Sales

An “extraordinary increase” over the $21.4 billion in deals for 2010

Common Dreams staff

U.S. arms exports tripled and reached a record $66.3 billion last year or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, the New York Times is reporting Sunday night. 

The US military-industial complex sold 78 per cent of the world's arms in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with just $4.8 billion in weapon sales.

In a June 2012 conference call to journalists, Andrew Shapiro, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs said: "Today, I can confirm that this is already a record-breaking year for foreign military sales. We have already surpassed $50 billion in sales in fiscal year 2012," which ends September 30. Shapiro said it was too early to predict whether 2013 would see a further increase in foreign military sales.

Despite the global domination by the United States, on Saturday the neo-con editors at the Washington Post headlined an article claiming China an Emerging World Arms Exporter.

"China... has transformed itself from the world’s largest importer of arms to a major producer, with domestic production exploding by 95 percent from 2002 to 2006 and from 2007 to 2011, making it the sixth-largest arms exporter in the world."

The New York Times reports:

The American weapons sales total was an “extraordinary increase” over the $21.4 billion in deals for 2010, the study found, and was the largest single-year sales total in the history of United States arms exports. The previous high was in fiscal year 2009, when American weapons sales overseas totaled nearly $31 billion.

The report was prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress. The annual study, written by Richard F. Grimmett and Paul K. Kerr and delivered to Congress on Friday, is considered the most detailed collection of unclassified arms sales data available to the public.

The agreements with Saudi Arabia included the purchase of 84 advanced F-15 fighters, a variety of ammunition, missiles and logistics support, and upgrades of 70 of the F-15 fighters in the current fleet.

Sales to Saudi Arabia last year also included dozens of Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, all contributing to a total Saudi weapons deal from the United States of $33.4 billion, according to the study.

The United Arab Emirates purchased a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, an advanced antimissile shield that includes radars and is valued at $3.49 billion, as well as 16 Chinook helicopters for $939 million.

Oman bought 18 F-16 fighters for $1.4 billion.

In keeping with recent trends, most of the weapons purchases, worth about $71.5 billion, were made by developing nations, with about $56.3 billion of that from the United States.

To compare weapons sales over various years, the study used figures in 2011 dollars, with amounts for previous years adjusted for inflation to provide a consistent measurement.

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