Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Major arms imports in the Middle East rose by 86 percent between the periods of 2007-2011 and 2012-2016 and by 7.7 percent in Asia and Oceania.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, said Monday the arms import figures for the Middle East accounted for 29 percent of global imports during the 2012 to 2016 period, while Asia and Oceania accounted for 43 percent of global imports during that period.
"The ﬂow of arms increased to Asia and Oceania and the Middle East between 2007–11 and 2012–16, while there was a decrease in the ﬂow to Europe, the Americas and Africa," SIPRI said in a new report. "The five biggest exporters -- the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany -- together accounted for 74 per cent of the total volume of arms exports."
According to the SIPRI report, India was the world's largest importer of major arms during the 2012 to 2016 period, accounting for 13 percent of the global total. During that period it increased its arms imports by 43 percent.
Imports by Southeast Asian countries went up by 6.2 percent between the periods of 2007-2011 and 2012-2016, with Vietnam jumping from the 29th largest importer in 2007–2011 to the 10th largest in 2012–2016. Its arms imports increased by 202 percent.
"With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals," said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program. "While China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers including Russia, the USA, European states, Israel and South Korea."
In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia was the world's second-largest arms importer in the period 2012 to 2016, with an increase of 212 percent compared with 2007-2011. Arms imports by Qatar rose by 245 percent.
The majority of other states in the region also increased arms imports, the report said.
The world's top arms exporter was the United States, accounting for one-third of total arms exports during the 2012 to 2016 period. Russia accounted for a 23 percent share. The total volume of arms transfers during the 2012 to 2016 period was the highest of any five-year period since the end of the Cold War.