| Bofors guns in action during the Kargil war. The 155-mm shells for the Bofors guns were among the consignments that topped the Indian Army’s shopping list last year. (AFP)
Stockholm, June 17 (Reuters): World military spending rose by 6 per cent last year, growing twice as fast as in 2001 to reach $794 billion, largely as a result of the US-led war on terrorism, a respected think-tank said today.
Washington accounted for three-quarters of the increase, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in its Yearbook, a defence and security policy publication widely recognised for the reliability of its data.
Russia overtook the US as the world’s largest arms exporter while China was the largest importer followed by India.
But with outlays up 10 per cent year-on-year at $336 billion, the US accounted for 43 per cent of global military expenditure in 2002, up from 36 per cent in 2001.
“The rest of the world is not prepared to, or cannot, follow the USA’s example in increasing military expenditure,” the institute said, noting that combined arms expenditure of the West European members of the Nato defence alliance fell by 3 per cent in real terms between 2000 and 2002.
“While in the USA, the war on terrorism was a major factor in the huge growth in military expenditure in 2002, this was not the case in Europe.”
US defence budget estimates for fiscal 2003 showed a planned increase in arms procurement of 32 per cent over the 2002-2007 period to $78 billion this year. Total US defence spending was set to rise by just over 6 per cent in 2003.
Russia’s defence budget was flat in 2002 but looked set to increase by 7-8 per cent in real terms this year, the institute said.
The value of Russian arms exports, on the rise since 1999, increased by more than $1 billion to $4.8 billion last year. With 36 per cent of global deliveries, Russia overtook the US as the world’s largest supplier of arms to other countries, primarily China and India.
China’s military spending was estimated by the institute to have risen by 18 per cent in 2002 and would grow 9.6 per cent in 2003.
China was the number one arms importer last year with 14 per cent of the world’s total.
India’s arms imports increased 72 per cent in 2002, making it the second largest buyer of arms from abroad. Arms imports by Pakistan also grew considerably last year, the institute said.
Both countries continued to produce fissile materials and develop missiles, the think-tank said, noting that the size of the two countries’ arsenal was not known, but might include 100 to more than 400 nuclear weapons.
Pakistan, the poorer of the two, was the underdog measured by both conventional and nuclear arms, the institute said.
“The situation is likely to become worse with the future nuclear deployments by both India and Pakistan,” the institute said, noting that both were preparing doctrines for nuclear weapons use.