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– Lord Des Browne
Vice Chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative
October 20, 2014
Russia Tops in Quantity of Arms Shipped in 2002

Russia Tops in Quantity of Arms Shipped in 2002

Due to its export of hundreds of missiles to China and Kuwait, Russia shipped more individual weapons around the globe than any other country last year, according to data volunteered by arms sellers to the UN Register of Conventional Arms.

Roughly 120 countries have submitted reports this year on their 2002 arms trade to the register, which was established in 1992 to shed light on the global arms market. All countries are called upon annually to provide information to the register on their previous year’s imports and exports of seven types of weapons: tanks, armored combat vehicles (ACVs), large-caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers. The intent underlying the register’s creation was that arms sellers might show more restraint in brokering weapons deals if they had greater awareness of the total amount of arms a potential buyer was stockpiling.

Moscow claimed that it exported 330 missiles to China and 941 missiles to Kuwait as part of 1,626 total arms deliveries last year. The Kremlin identified another 11 countries, including Algeria, Angola, Burma (Myanmar), and Sudan, as also receiving Russian arms.

Most of Russia’s declared arms exports, including those to China and Kuwait, could not be verified because many of the recipients do not participate in the register.

China stopped providing arms transfer figures in 1998 to protest U.S. reporting on its arms sales to Taiwan, which the mainland views as a renegade province. Beijing condemns Washington’s practice of publicly reporting on U.S. exports to the island as wrongly conferring legitimacy to Taiwan’s independent weapons purchases. China blasts all foreign arms shipments to Taiwan as infringing on Chinese sovereignty.

Kuwait sides with most other Arab governments in boycotting the register. The Arab governments claim they do not participate because the register does not cover weapons of mass destruction, a stance aimed at trying to compel Israel to reveal its suspected holdings of nuclear, chemical, and biological arms.
African countries have also generally shied away from the register, saying, in part, that it is not relevant to their security since the small arms and light weapons that are so abundant and lethal on the African continent are not subject to the register’s weapons categories.

A group of government experts representing two dozen countries charged with reviewing the register’s operation this year proposed in August that the large-caliber artillery category be expanded to capture smaller artillery pieces, such as 81mm and 82mm mortars, to help better address African concerns. This recommendation, along with the proposed inclusion in the missile category of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, also known as Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), is expected to win the UN General Assembly’s approval later this year.

If not for Russia’s missile exports, the United States would have easily surpassed all other arms suppliers with 1,027 total exports, including 425 missile transfers to 10 different countries. The United States also shipped 487 ACVs to eight countries and 60 attack helicopters to 10 separate buyers.

In sum, arms suppliers reported delivering more than 4,200 major weapons last year. The average amount of reported arms exports per year for the register’s 11-year history is roughly 7,000.

Counting all weapons transfers equally can distort the significance of individual arms deals because the export of one missile is treated the same as the delivery of one combat aircraft or one warship.

A country’s arms trade can also be quantified by the value of its sales. By this measure, U.S. arms exports worth $10 billion far exceeded Russia’s $3 billion mark last year, as detailed in a recent Congressional Research Service report. (See ACT, October 2003.)


UN Register of Conventional Arms

The figure preceding each recipient state indicates the number of weapons declared by the exporting country. The figure following the recipient state gives the number of weapons that the importing state claimed it had received. States in italics did not participate in the register. Australia and Singapore both reported making weapons imports, but did not always specify exact quantities. In such cases, a DNR appears for “did not report.”

Exporter Tanks ACV's Heavy Artillery Combat Aircraft Attack Helicopters Warships Missiles & Missile Launchers Total
Belarus
15 Iran
12 Cote d'Ivoire

10 Cote d'Ivoire

14 Sudan

2 Algeria
2 Cote d'Ivoire
55
Brazil

12 Malaysia 0

12
Bulgaria

36 Azerbaijan 36

10 Cote d'Ivoire

6 Uganda

2 Slovakia 0

9 USA 0

3 USA 0
0 Ukraine 20
66
Canada

0 Australia 20

2 Chile 0

2
Chile
82 Israel 0
24 Israel 0
106
China

Bangladesh 1

Pakistan 24

Bangladesh 2
Czech Republic

2 Slovakia 0

35 Yemen

1 USA 0

0 Slovakia 11

3 Netherlands 0

13 Slovakia 4

30 Yemen

9 Algeria

1 France 0

1 Slovakia 1

1 USA 0

96
Denmark
72 Lithuania 72
72
Finland
France 1
France

31 United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)

12 Botswana

70 Greece 0

14 Oman

36 Italy 24
3 Pakistan 3

0 Brazil 3

3 Morocco

10 U.A.E.

0 Malaysia 2

1 Saudia Arabia

3 Turkey 2

1 Brazil 0

8 Greece 0

0 Malaysia 30

1 Saudi Arabia

193
Georgia
0 Azerbaijan 6
0
Germany

0 Chile 7

22 Greece 22

41 Poland 30

36 Lithuania 36
0 Slovakia 2

1 Egypt

1 Uruguay 1

101
Greece
19 USA 0

2 France 0

3 USA 0

24
Israel

18 Uganda

4 USA 0

30 Turkey 46
52
Italy
0 Spain 5

12 Thailand 12

1 Netherlands 0

7 Malaysia 0
20
Netherlands
47 Norway 47
1 Greece 1
48
Norway

1 Latvia 0

3 Poland 0

0 Australia DNR
4
Poland
16 Mauritania
67 Nigeria
1 Yemen
84
Russia
84 India 84

78 Bangladesh 39

8 Djibouti

3 Greece 0

12 Indonesia 0

8 Sudan

2 Algeria

29 China

10 India 10

10 Myanmar

2 Uzbekistan

14 Yemen

2 Angola

4 Sudan

330 China

89 India 125

0 Jordan 110

941 Kuwait

0 Malaysia 422

0 Mexico 40

1,626
Slovakia
1 Azerbaijan 1
2 Sri Lanka

8 Sri Lanka

15 Uganda

6 Angola

2 USA 0

34
South Africa

1 Angola

1 Austria 0

1 Belgium 0

2 Eritrea

2 France 0

2 Georgia 0

5 Mali

6 Mozambique

15 Uganda

3 UK 3

22 Malaysia 6
1 Cameroon
0 Uruguay 124
61
Sweden

2 Finland

14 Switzerland 9

6 Estonia 0

6 Latvia 6

6 Lithuania 6

0 Mexico 4

1 Singapore 1
35
Switzerland
15 Ireland
15
Turkey
80 Malaysia 0
80
Ukraine

14 Myanmar

1 UK 0

20 Zambia 0
72 Azerbaijan 72

1 Eritrea

2 Estonia 0

1 Lithuania 0

1 Russia 0

4 Vietnam 0

10 USA 0

4 Algeria

1 Burundi

2 Bangladesh 0

100 China

10 Eritrea

4 Russia 0

2 USA 0

249
United Kingdom (UK)

0 Czech Rep. 1

88 Jordan 88

6 France 0

4 Ghana 0

74 Oman

1 USA 1

0 Bangladesh 2

0 Canada 1

0 Australia DNR

0 Malaysia 81

173
United States (USA)

0 Chile 158

81 Canada 0

28 Greece 0

54 Israel 54

4 Italy 0

80 Malaysia 0

28 Saudi Arabia

0 Slovenia 18

13 South Korea 0

199 Turkey 0

44 Saudi Arabia

3 Brazil 0

5 Egypt

0 Greece 1

2 Italy 0

0 Peru 2

0 Thailand 9

4 Australia 3

9 Austria

4 Colombia

7 Netherlands 7

1 New Zealand 1

2 Poland 0

7 Singapore 8

6 Spain 5

8 Turkey 7

12 UK 12

1 Mexico 2

0 Poland 1

0 Turkey 1

0 Argentina 24

0 Australia DNR

26 Bahrain

20 Czech Rep. 0

12 Finland

58 Italy 0

75 Japan 0

98 Saudi Arabia

0 Singapore DNR

2 South Korea 272

3 Sweden 0

57 Turkey 0

74 Taiwan

0 Uruguay 10

1,027