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Swedish watchdog sees growing global weapons spending, but upbeat on arms control talks

Swedish watchdog sees growing global weapons spending, but upbeat on arms control talks

Global weapons spending continued to grow last year, but there are increased hopes for arms control talks, with much depending on the U.S., the world's largest arms spender, a Swedish think tank said Monday.
In its annual report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said arms spending grew 6 percent in 2007 from the previous year, but that it expects new arms control and disarmament talks in the next 12 months because of "a broadening consensus ... that more serious and effective arms control and disarmament measures" need to be implemented.
"Voices from across the political spectrum are coming to recognize again the value of arms control in the face of looming threats to humankind," said the research institute's director, Bates Gill. "It is clearly in the interest of citizens and governments alike to take pragmatic and positive steps in the right direction."
Gill said disarmament by the largest nuclear powers _ Russia and the U.S. _ will be particularly important in coming years and he hoped they would take decisive steps. Those would include a renewal of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the United States and Russia in 2009 and the Strategic Offensive Forces Reduction Treaty in 2012.
An international nonproliferation conference in 2010 should also pressure nuclear states to disarm, Gill said.
"The priorities of the next U.S. administration will have a critical role in shaping the progress for arms control," he said. "Both presumptive presidential candidates for the U.S. presidency have said that they intend to reduce America's nuclear arsenal and that they will consider putting forward the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty for Senate ratification," Gill said.
The report said international military spending hit US$1.34 trillion (euro860 billion) in 2007, with the United States spending 45 percent of the global total. It used more money on weapons last year than any other year since World War II _ US$547 billion (euro351 billion), up 3.4 percent from 2006.
Britain came next with US$59.7 billion (euro38.28 billion), followed by China, which pushed past France into third place with US$58.3 billion (euro37.4 billion), the institute said.
Regionally, Eastern Europe increased military spending the most, mainly because of high spending by Russia, which used US$35.4 billion (euro22.7 billion) on weaponry, up slightly from US$34.7 billion (euro22.2 billion).
In December, Moscow suspended its participation in the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which the research institute said posed the greatest challenge yet to the treaty, which limits the number of conventional weapons on the continent.
The Swedish arms watchdog said the world's eight nuclear powers together had more than 25,000 nuclear warheads at the beginning of 2008, of which more than 10,000 were available for delivery by missiles and aircraft.
It did not include North Korea on that list, saying it could not verify that North Korea has "weaponized" its nuclear capability.
Russia had 5,189 operational warheads in January 2008, while the U.S. had 4,075 and both countries were developing new weapons as they modernize their forces.
Britain, France, China, India and Pakistan were also developing new missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons, the peace institute said.
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Updated : 2021-05-17 00:32 GMT+08:00