Arms sales booming around world, says SIPRI report

While peace campaigners are lamenting the insanity of humanity to allow themselves to be ruled by nuclear weapons, a new report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says arms sales are booming around the world.

The main beneficiaries are armaments groups in the US and Western Europe.

The global trade in arms and military services increased by 1.9% in 2016 compared with the previous year as world’s 100 biggest armaments groups sold US$374.8 billion worth of weapons and weapons systems, the report says.

Armaments groups in the US led by Lockheed Martin recorded a 4% rise in sales worth US$217.2 billion. While the United States Air Force bought bulk of the arms produced by Lockheed Martin for deployments abroad, countries like Britain, Italy or Norway also placed big orders for its new F-35, the report says.

US companies accounted for 57.9% of global arms sales. Western Europe stood second in the list of the most important suppliers of arms, followed by Russia with 7.1% of arms sales around the world. Chinese armaments groups may be among the top 20 biggest companies in the world but no reliable data is available with SIPRI on the Chinese arms trade.

A top official of SIPRI Aude Fleurant links rise in arms sales around the world to conflicts taking South Korea as an example.

The 20.6% rise in arms purchases by South Korea during last year was due to the tense situation in the peninsula, Fleurant says adding that South Korean arms manufacturers are profiting from this.

North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, US-South Korea exercises, and exchange of words between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are raising war fears in the peninsula.

Eluding to countries like North Korea, head of an anti-nuke group warned that mankind’s total destruction at the hands of nuclear weapons was just one “impulsive tantrum away”.

“Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us,” asked Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), referring to the ongoing exchange of threats between Trump and Kim.

Fihn was speaking after receiving the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Norway on Sunday.

She said nuclear powers in the world should choose freedom over fear, disarmament over destruction, human rights over terror, common sense over obliteration, and wisdom over ruin.