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World military spending reaches record US$1,464b

GLOBAL military spending reached a record US$1,464 billion last year with the United States taking up by far the biggest share of the total, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said yesterday.

Arms shipments were up 4 percent worldwide from 2007 and were 45 percent higher than in 1999, the think tank said in its annual study of the global arms trade.

"The idea of the 'war on terror' has encouraged many countries to see their problems through a highly militarized lens, using this to justify high military spending," Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of the Military Expenditure Project at the think tank said in a statement.

"Meanwhile, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost US$903 billion in additional military spending by the US alone."

The US accounted for 58 percent of the worldwide increase between 1999 and 2008.

The institute, which conducts independent research on international security, armaments and disarmament, said last year's military spending was about 2.4 percent of global gross domestic product, corresponding to US$217 per capita.

Last year there were around 8,400 operational nuclear warheads in the world, according to SIPRI estimates.

Of them, almost 2,000 were kept on high alert and capable of being launched within minutes.

US Boeing remained the top arms producer in 2007 - the most recent year for which reliable data is available - with arms sales worth US$30.5 billion.

All the top 20 companies among the 100 top producers in 2007 were either US or European firms, the think tank said.

The total staff involved in peacekeeping operations also reached a record high of 187,586, an increase of 11 percent from a year earlier.

"Despite this, some of the ambitious missions being deployed in trouble spots like Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo remain far short of their envisioned strengths," SIPRI said.


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