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Sun 26 Dec 2010 12:11 PM

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US is Gulf region's top weapons supplier – SIPRI

US supplies 54% of major conventional weapons to Gulf countries between 2005 and 2009 - research

US is Gulf region's top weapons supplier – SIPRI
US WEAPONS: US has emerged as the biggest supplier of major conventional weapons to the Gulf countries between 2005 and 2009 (Bloomberg Images)
US is Gulf region's top weapons supplier – SIPRI

US has emerged as the biggest supplier of major conventional weapons to the Gulf countries between 2005 and 2009, according to recent research published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

As a supplier, US accounted for 54 percent of the Gulf region’s total volume of imports, followed by France, which accounted for 21 percent.

Though the UAE accounted for 57 percent of the volume of imports of major conventional weapons over the period 2005–2009 and Saudi Arabia for only 10 percent, over the longer period 1990–2009 Saudi Arabia was the largest importer in the Gulf region.

“The volume of arms imported by the UAE has increased significantly in the past decade and the country is likely to remain a major arms importer in the coming years,” researchers Carina Solmirano and Pieter Wezeman said in their paper titled ‘Military spending and arms procurement in the Gulf states’.

The weapons to the region were supplied by at least 30 countries; the largest suppliers being US, France, Russia, the UK and China.

US companies bagged 60 percent of contracts by value from the UAE, while France won 35 percent; and other countries making up the rest of the suppliers of weapons to the Arab federation.

Russian and Chinese exports went mainly to Iran, which received no major arms from the US or from most European states, the research said.

“The Gulf states accounted for 10 percent of imports of major conventional weapons in the period 2005–2009. Since arms production capabilities in the region are limited, almost all procurements of major weapons were imports,” it added.

The research pointed out that Saudi Arabia is the biggest military spender in the Gulf, followed by the UAE and Iran, adding that in the period 1990–2009, Saudi Arabia was the largest arms importer in the Gulf.

“Signed contracts and known procurement plans indicate that Saudi Arabian arms imports are set to increase significantly,” SIPRI said.

However, the SIPRI report warned that assessments of military developments in the Gulf states are complicated by very low levels of public transparency.

Conventional weapons/ arms refer to weapons that are in relatively wide use and that are not weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. These include small arms and light weapons, sea and land mines, non-nuclear bombs, shells, rockets, missiles and cluster munitions.

For a detailed, country-wise analysis and break-up of military spending and arms procurement in the Gulf, click here