STOCKHOLM (AP) — The United States remained the world's biggest military spender last year, devoting about $529 billion to arms, while China overtook Japan as Asia's top arms spender, a Swedish research institute said Monday.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said the United States spent the most on arms, ahead of Britain and France.
"The large increase in the USA's military spending is to a great extent due to the costly military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq," SIPRI said in its annual report, noting that the U.S. spent $505 billion in 2005.
China's growing military expenditures reached nearly $50 billion, making it the fourth biggest arms spender in the world, SIPRI said in its annual report. Japan was fifth with $43.7 billion.
The figures cited were in 2005 dollars.
"It is worth asking how cost-effective military expenditure is as a way of increasing the security of human lives," SIPRI researcher Elisabeth Skons said. "For example, we know that millions of lives could be saved through basic health interventions that would cost a fraction of what the world spends on military forces every year."
International arms transfers have grown continuously since 2002, with China and India being the biggest importers and the U.S. and Russia the two major exporters, the Stockholm-based institute said.
Russia, which spent $34.7 billion on arms, has used its energy wealth to revive national pride, to restore its influence" in surrounding countries and to maximize its geopolitical power," SIPRI said.
Five Middle Eastern countries were among the top 10 importers of weapons.
"While much media attention was given to arms deliveries to Iran, mainly from Russia, deliveries from the USA and European countries to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were significantly larger," the report said.
The institute said the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China together held more than 26,000 nuclear warheads at the start of 2007.
"Although the total number of warheads is gradually being cut, all five countries are undertaking or planning major programs to update their nuclear weapon arsenals," SIPRI said.
The report said that the U.S. government provided a total of $432 billion in supplemental appropriations for the war on terrorism between September 2001 and June 2006.
"This massive increase in U.S. military spending has been one of the factors contributing to the deterioration of the U.S. economy since 2001," SIPRI said.
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