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Stockholm Peace Institute warns world is in new arms race

March 19, 2012 – WORLD – The global arms trade has grown by nearly a quarter over the last four years, with new growth mainly in poorer countries and India now officially the world’s biggest importer of arms, research has revealed. Statistics published on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute show that demand from emerging economies – in particular India – drove the volume of worldwide arms transfers between 2007 and 2011 to a level 24% higher than in the previous four years. Alongside India the five largest arms importers today are all Asian states, according to the data, prompting fears of an arms race in a region still blighted by deep poverty. “India has long been a major purchaser of weapons. Now it is the biggest in the world,” said Pieter Wezeman, a researcher at the institute. Wezeman said India’s top ranking was in part due to Delhi increasing its arms spend but also to China’s increasing ability to produce its own weapons. India is now importing twice as many arms as China, its main regional rival, the institute’s data shows. Three other large recipients of arms in 2007–2011 were South Korea, Pakistan, and Singapore. Tensions between China and India have risen in recent years and Beijing has become one of Pakistan’s biggest weapons suppliers. Joshi said the institute’s figures for India exaggerated the country’s expenditure. “Many of the headline announcements of purchases take years and years to actually be implemented or don’t happen at all. The actual sums spent are more modest,” he said. Many fear problems of graft in countries where corruption is endemic. A number of firms have been banned from selling to India by the authorities after investigations into bribery. The figures also show that leading suppliers continued to deliver weapons to Middle Eastern countries during the Arab spring. Despite a review in 2011 of its arms transfer policies towards the region, the US remains a main supplier to both Tunisia and Egypt. –Guardian

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