U.S. Reports 1998 Arms Transfers to UN

On May 28, the United States reported to the UN Register of Conventional Arms that it had shipped 2,700 major conventional weapons to 28 countries and Taiwan in 1998. The voluntary register, established in January 1992, calls on all countries to report annually on exports and imports of tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile systems. Information on military holdings, procurement through national production and arms trade policies can also be volunteered.

The 1998 U.S. total fell well below the 1997 mark of 4,759 weapons exports. Much of the difference can be accounted for by the 1997 delivery of 1,502 missiles to Israel in comparison with 143 in 1998. Moreover, total ACV and artillery exports dropped by more than half from 1997. Exports of combat aircraft, including 155 F-16 and 47 F-15 fighters, climbed by 27 in 1998 to 232. Missiles, mainly air-to-air, accounted for nearly two-thirds of all U.S. arms exports.

Taiwan topped U.S. arms recipients for 1998 with 355 weapons, including 52 F-16 fighters and 120 tanks. Japan (339 weapons, all but 12 of which were missiles) and Turkey (338 imports) vied for second place. Israel ranked first among Middle East recipients with 185 weapons acquisitions.

Regionally, Europe took delivery of the most U.S. weapons in 1998 with 1,067, almost three-quarters of which were missiles. With 689 imports, the Middle East and North Africa, the leading recipient in 1997 and 1996, dropped to third behind Asia, which received 876 weapons.