Swedish think tank: South Korea's arms sales record high

Swedish think tank: South Korea's arms sales record high

Sales by the world's 100 biggest arms producers increased 1.9% from the previous year to reach $374.8 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

SIPRI's annual report said that American and Western European companies accounted for 82.4 percent of total arms sales for 2016.

South Korea's arms sales hit record levels past year, pushed by the continuous military threat from North Korea, complicated relations with China and a government decision to increase domestic arms production, a Swedish think tank said Monday.

According to the report, sales from U.S. firms rose four percent in 2016 to $217.2bn, accounting for 57.9% of the overall total. Russian companies accounted for 7.1 per cent of the overall total.

According to the report, geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea, West Asia, and the Indian sub-continent has fuelled a rise in arms imports in West Asia and the Asia-Oceania, with the two regions contributing to 72 percent of all arms imports during 2012-2016 as compared to 2007-2011. Although sales also rose among Russian companies, the rate of increase fell for the second year in a row, which researchers said was due to "major economic difficulties experienced by Russia in 2016".

While consumer purchases are included in the sales figures, national governments are by far the largest purchasers of arms and weapons systems.

Russian firms rose by 3.8 per cent with United States dollars 26.6 billion arms sale in 2016.

American defense firm Lockheed Martin - the world's largest producer - saw sales surge 11% in 2016, thanks to increased deliveries of its F-35 fighter and its acquisition of helicopter producer Sikorsky.

"The increasing nuclear weapons capability in North Korea has led to major investments in South Korea", SIPRI Senior Researcher Pieter Wezeman told AFP.

Aude Fleurant, director of the Arms and Military Expenditure Program at SIPRI, said that US growth was likely to continue. Sales by South Korean firms increased by over 20% in 2016, to $8.4 billion.

Brazil, India, South Korea and Turkey are categorized as "emerging producers" of weapons as they increase their output and share of the worldwide weapons dealing industry.

President Moon Jae-in has stressed the urgency in improving South Korea's ability to defend against the North, which has test-fired three intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test this year. 'At the same time, South Korea is aiming to realize its goal of becoming a major arms exporter'.

On the other hand, Japan reported negative increase of -6.4 per cent. Japan is clubbed with Australia, Israel, Poland, Singapore and Ukraine under other established producers' category by the SIPRI.

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