Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1999-2006

Article excerpt

[The following are excerpts of the Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1999-2006, the complete report including all supporting charts and graphics are available at the following web site:]

Introduction and Overview

This report provides 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 1999 through 2006. It also includes some data on worldwide supplier transactions. It updates and revises the Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report RL33696, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1998-2005.

For most of recent American history, maintaining regional stability, and ensuring the security of U.S. allies and friendly nations throughout the world, 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 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 U.S. 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, 1999-2006, conventional arms transfer agreements (which represent orders for future delivery) to developing nations comprised 66.4 percent of the value of all international arms transfer agreements. The portion of agreements with developing countries constituted 65.7 percent of all agreements globally from 2003-2006. In 2006, arms transfer agreements with developing countries accounted for 71.5 percent of the value of all such agreements globally. Deliveries of conventional arms to developing nations, from 2003-2006, constituted 73.3 percent of all international arms deliveries. In 2006, arms deliveries to developing nations constituted 73.6 percent of the value of all such arms deliveries worldwide. The data in this new report supersede all data published in previous editions. Since these new data for 1999-2006 reflect potentially significant updates to and revisions in the underlying databases utilized for this report, only the data in this most recent edition should be used. The data are expressed in U.S. dollars for the calendar years indicated, and adjusted for inflation. …