Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1998-2005

Article excerpt

[The following are excerpts from the Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1998-2005. Note: Not all sections, tables, and figures are included. Those that are included will keep their original section, footnote, table, chart, and figure number. The report in its entirety can be viewed at the following web site: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/RL33696.pdf.]

Introduction and Overview

This report provides the Congress with official, unclassified background data from U.S. government sources on transfers of conventional arms to developing nations by major suppliers for the period 1998 through 2005. It also includes some data on worldwide supplier transactions. It updates and revises the report entitled Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1997-2004, published by the Congressional Research Service on August 29, 2005.

The data in this report provide a means for Congress to identify existing supplier purchaser relationships in conventional weapons acquisitions. Use of these data can assist Congress in its oversight role of assessing whether the current nature of the international weapons trade affects U.S. national interests. Maintaining regional stability, and ensuring the security of U.S. allies and friendly nations throughout the world, for most of recent American history have been important elements of U.S. foreign policy. Knowing the degree to which individual arms suppliers are making arms transfers to individual nations or regions provides Congress with a context for evaluating policy questions it may confront. Such policy questions may include, for example, whether or not to support specific U.S. arms sales to given countries or regions or to support or oppose such arms transfers by other nations. The data in this report may also assist Congress in evaluating whether multilateral arms control arrangements or other U.S. foreign policy initiatives are being supported or undermined by the actions of foreign arms suppliers.

The principal focus of this report is the level of arms transfers by major weapons suppliers to nations in the developing world where most of the potential for the outbreak of regional military conflicts currently exists. For decades, during the height of the Cold War, providing conventional weapons to friendly states was an instrument of foreign policy utilized by the United States and its allies. This was equally true for the Soviet Union and its allies. The underlying rationale for U.S. arms transfer policy then was to help ensure that friendly states were not placed at risk through a military disadvantage created by arms transfers by the Soviet Union or its allies.

The data in this report illustrate how global patterns of conventional arms transfers have changed in the post-Cold War and post-Persian Gulf War years. Relationships between arms suppliers and recipients continue to evolve in response to changing political, military, and economic circumstances. Where before the principal motivation for arms sales by foreign suppliers might have been to support a foreign policy objective, today that motivation may be based as much on economic considerations as those of foreign or national security policy.

In this context, the developing world continues to be the primary focus of foreign arms sales activity by conventional weapons suppliers. During the period of this report, 1998-2005, conventional arms transfer agreements (which represent orders for future delivery) to developing nations have comprised 66.8 percent of the value of all international arms transfer agreements. The portion of agreements with developing countries constituted 64.3 percent of all agreements globally from 2001-2005. In 2005, arms transfer agreements with developing countries accounted for 68.4 percent of the value of all such agreements globally. Deliveries of conventional arms to developing nations, from 2002-2005, constituted 67.8 percent of all international arms deliveries. …